Hemp in beer: autumn trend or crazy idea?

wild mix
Hemp and beer, you all right? What the special brew is all about

Beer mixed with hemp flowers could become the next beer trend in Germany.

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Hardly anything is as sacred to the Germans as their beer. With a rebellious idea, some breweries are now causing an uproar. They mix a handful of hemp blossoms with the barley juice and call it hemp beer. Trend or crazy idea?

Quiz question: what do hops and cannabis have in common?

They are actually related to each other. Botanically, both belong to the hemp family. Basically, beer in this country has always been brewed (i.e. since 1516) with parts of a hemp plant. The female blossoms of real hops are processed very specifically. Add malt, some yeast and hand-snuggled spring water – and the classic Pils is ready.

In recent years, the beer landscape has not only become more diverse, but also quite confusing. The traditional Pilsner, which is particularly popular in the north, and the more drinkable Helle, which is preferred south of the Elbe, have a hard time. In a sea of ​​IPA, craft creations, cherry porter, mulled beer and other barley juices, the classics have to assert themselves. And now this: In a laboratory at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, a researcher is experimenting with hemp and beer. Their goal: to replace hops with hemp without eliminating the usual, slightly bitter taste of hops in beer. Wait a minute, one or the other may think: Beer with hemp has been around for a long time. That’s correct. In this case, however, the manufacturers mixed the hemp flowers with the hops before or during the ripening phase. Which means that the hemp beer leaves a typical hemp note on the tongue or on the palate. That’s exactly what the Swiss scientist doesn’t want.

The Swiss are experimenting with hemp flowers and beer for two reasons. On the one hand, they import almost all of the country’s hop requirements from abroad. But the more exciting reason is another: The hemp plant is more heat-resistant than hops and thus apparently also more resistant to some effects of climate change. Unfortunately, not every type of hemp is suitable for brewing beer. At least not one that tastes like a classic beer. Like the online portal “laborpraxis.de” reports, the laboratory in Zurich analyzed various hemp varieties for three years and has now identified two suitable varieties. The test beers brewed in the laboratory are said to have already been tasted. However, it will probably take a while before it is ready for the market. Until then, they want to continue working on the brewing recipe and look for a brewery that will get into the hemp beer business.

Until then, everyone who wants to consume hemp flavors in beer instead of in the bag will have the so-called hemp-beer mix drinks. These are said beers mixed with hemp blossoms, which are not allowed to be labeled and sold as hemp beer in Germany. Overall, however, the legal framework for beverages containing hemp in this country is very vague. There is no uniform regulation for production, distribution and compliance with the holy purity law. In other words: anything that pleases and sells is allowed. The traditional Sternburg brewery from Leipzig has recently added a hemp shandy to its range. Aldi-Nord also has a beer-hemp mix on offer. The well-known Schultenbräu is now also available as a beer mix with hemp extract. Hemp beer, which can also be called that, i.e. barley juice refined with hemp blossoms, is currently mainly found in Austria, where several breweries are trying this experiment. Here, organic hemp blossoms are added to the actual beer while it is maturing. They should give the beer a mild and slightly sweet note. With rather grassy notes, with an alcohol content of 5.6% vol. quite strong country beers from the Gruthaus brewery in Münster attract beer drinkers who are keen to experiment. That “Münsterland hemp” is unfiltered and has been mixed with hemp flowers from the region.

Back to Switzerland for a moment: The seven test persons who had already tasted the hop-enriched hemp beer in the service of science made a loud noise laborpraxis.de no difference to a lager, which was tasted as a comparison drink. Flavor and bitterness were rated equally. And the test drinkers didn’t taste hemp in the blind tasting either.

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