Leave it to a beer company from the District of Columbia to deftly intertwine politics and culture in a beverage. Last week, in commemoration of the nation’s capital legalizing pot, DC Brau Brewing Company unveiled a unique IPA consciously crafted to deliver a weed-based aroma and flavor.
With the aptly named “Smells Like Freedom,” DC Brau sought to acknowledge the District’s struggle to legalize recreational pot while under the thumb of a petty and petulant Congress bent on blocking the legal weed initiative that D.C. voters approved last November.
The months-in-the-making India pale ale is a one-time-only brew boasting a 7.0% ABV (alcohol by volume). However, it’s the rarefied flavoring characteristics devised utilizing Columbus and Equinox hops along with two different types of experimental hops that make this beer noteworthy.
Jeff Hancock, president and co-founder of DC Brau, elaborated: “The one variety [of experimental hop] we used that we got most excited about was NJ007, because those hops had more uniquely sticky and heavy cannabis notes.
“Then we did three dry-hop editions (adding hops post-fermentation) of this beer to really drive home the nice, heavy cannabis aroma.”
DC Brau teamed up with Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery to create Smells Like Freedom. “Since both breweries are big fans of the green, we figured it was a natural collaboration. We hammered out a recipe, and relied on Oskar Blues’ knowledge of experimental hops – and then determined where we wanted to add those hops at a certain point during the brewing process,” Hancock explained.
And while there is no actual cannabis or concentrates in Smells Like Freedom, it has been intentionally crafted to evoke a sense of consuming ganja in liquid brew form.
According to Hancock, “Hops are close kissing cousins to cannabis, they only differ by a couple of molecular structures … and like the higher the THC percentage in pot, the higher percentage of alpha acid means a more potent and pungent hop.”
The 21st century has seen the rise of both superior tasting cannabis and previously unimagined flavors of high octane microbrews, so it only seems natural that adventurous brewers – either appealing to a certain demographic or just to appease their own curious taste buds – would actively seek to recreate the bountiful flavor of marijuana flower tops in a hop-heavy beer.
A reminder: Smells Like Freedom is only available for a limited time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. So if you’re a dedicated craft beer geek and a marijuana aficionado you’ll want to add this bud-inspired brew to your palate’s memory. Freedom will be available in draft form in D.C., Philadelphia, Virginia and Maryland, and in cans only in D.C., and the Denver-area through Oskar Blues Brewery.