What Are Cannabis Terpenes And Why Are Brewers Adding them To Beer?


If you’re the kind of person who enjoys smoking weed and drinking beer, today is your lucky day. That’s because you can now buy beer infused with cannabis. That’s right, your two favorite vices are together at last. Okay, that’s all well and good. But, you’re probably wondering “will it get me high?” The short answer is: No. At this point, mass-marketed Cannabis-infused beers don’t actually contain any THC. But, they do taste like marijuana, which is an interesting start.

At present, cannabis-infused beer is made with terpenes, these are the compounds that give marijuana its stinky, pungent smell. Surprisingly, the actual THC (the part that gets you high) doesn’t have a smell at all. To make their current line of weed-beers, brewers take selected terpenes and add them into the hopping process to give the beer a subtle, dank weed-like flavor. Just this week, California-based brewery Lagunitas announced that it was releasing one of these beers in its home state.

Only available on tap at various locations in the Golden State, SuperCritical is a collaboration between Lagunitas and CannaCraft’s AbsoluteXtracts. Brewed with Yakima hops and cannabis terpenes from northern California, this beer is 6.6% sticky icky goodness and is the newest addition to Lagunitas’ “One-Hitter” series.


The Lagunitas collaboration wasn’t just limited to beer. Since the extract company was nice enough to give the brewery some cannabis terpenes to use in its beer, the brewery decided to return the favor. You can now purchase vape cartridges with hop terpenes too, utilizing hop recipes from Lagunitas. In a full role reversal, those cartridges actually do contain THC but they don’t contain any alcohol. Pair them with some SuperCritical, turn on Caddy Shack and you have the makings of a pretty good night.

This isn’t the first weed-infused beer to enter the market. Back in the fall of 2015, Dad and Dudes Breweria in Aurora, Colorado, released a beer called General Washington’s Secret Stash IPA that is infused with cannabinoids (but also no THC). In 2016, San Diego’s Thorn Street Brewery collaborated with Jetty Extracts to create OG HighPA Session IPA. This 4.2% IPA was infused with cannabis terpenes to add to the overall flavor of the hops.

This trend isn’t limited to beer, either. Earth Momma — a super-premium vodka that’s infused with the taste and aroma of marijuana — has carved out a small market niche. Just like the beers, it doesn’t contain any THC. This month, Prank Bar in LA is launching a complete terpenes drink menu.

Will that weed fans actually buy these products? That depends on the aims of each connoisseur, but truthfully this feels like it’s all just ornately setting the table for beers that have terpenes and CBD or THC properties.