Artistic picture of a man smoking weed.

The Hoppy High: Beer That Smells Like Weed

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Have you ever opened a cold one and thought your beer smells like weed? Well, you’re not alone. Some brews give off a funky smell that reminds us of the green stuff. But don’t worry, it’s not like someone spiked your drink with anything shady. Beer that smells like weed is due to the hops used to make the beer. Hops and cannabis are related, so that’s why some beers have that dank scent. Let’s explore why some beers smell like weed, discussing the hops and brewing techniques that make it happen.

The Science Behind the Scent

Some beers smell like weed due to terpenes, those little compounds that give plants their smell and flavour. Both hops, the essence of your beer’s bitterness and aroma, and cannabis share a surprising amount of these terpenes, with myrcene being the main player in the “beer smells like weed” game. Myrcene is known for its earthy, musky notes, quite similar to what you’d find in certain weed strains.

Many believe the smell is due to the beer’s reaction to sunlight. While sunlight can affect beer, the primary impact is on the beer’s taste rather than its smell, leading to what’s known as “skunked” beer. This happens when UV light breaks down the alpha acids in hops, producing a chemical compound similar to that found in a skunk’s spray. After all, you shouldn’t get your science from LadBible. 

So, when you’re sipping on a pint and catch a whiff of something that reminds you of weed, it’s likely thanks to myrcene. This terpene doesn’t just randomly show up. Brewers love it for the unique character it adds to their brews. They select hop varieties rich in myrcene, crafting beers that stand out with their fragrant profile, ranging from citrusy and piney to downright dank.

But here’s where it gets fascinating. The brewing process itself can amplify these weed-like aromas. Factors like the timing of hop additions and the fermentation temperature can pull more or less of that weedy scent into the final product. Brewers tinkering with these variables are like weed wizards, conjuring up potions that hit your nose with a familiar, yet entirely legal, fragrance.

Now, don’t go thinking there’s actual weed in your beer – you’re not that lucky. The similarities end with the smell. But as we hop (pun intended) into the next section, we’ll spotlight some beers that have leaned into this aromatic curiosity, creating sips that’ll have you doing a double-take. 

Spotlight on “Weedy” Beers

Beer and weed on an outside table.
Beer and Weed

Now that we’ve sussed out the science let’s shine a light on some standout beers that have cheekily embraced their inner weed. 

These aren’t your average brews; they’re shrewd concoctions that have beer lovers sniffing their glasses in disbelief, wondering, “Is this beer, or have I accidentally stumbled into a college dorm?”

Take SweetWater’s 420 Strain Series, for instance. It’s a bold lineup that doesn’t shy away from its cannabis connotations. The brewers there have gone all out, selecting hops that pack a myrcene punch, resulting in a beer that could easily pass for a pot session on the nose. 

Then there’s Elysian’s Contact Haze, another blinder with hazy, herbal notes that’ll have you doing a double sniff. These beers are about as close as you can get to lighting up without actually sparking anything.

But how do they do it? It’s all about the brewers picking just the right hop varieties and brewing techniques to maximise those weedy aromas without crossing into the realm of the illegal. It’s a fine line, and they walk it with the balance of a tightrope artist.

Before you start thinking every beer with a hint of herb is going for that weed-like whiff, remember that not all hoppy beers will remind you of your last reggae concert. Many factors come into play, from the type of hops to the brewing process. But for those beers that lean into the weedy vibe, it’s a deliberate nod to the shared botanical lineage of hops and cannabis.

As we roll into the next section, keep in mind that it’s all about the aroma. There’s no THC here, just a crafty use of hops and some brewing magic to create that unmistakable beer that smells like weed. 

FAQs About Beer and Weed Aromas

Let’s tackle some burning questions you might have about this whole “beer that smells like weed” phenomenon. It’s only natural to be curious, so here are a few FAQs that should clear the haze.

1. Is there actual weed in my beer?

Nope, not at all. The weedy aroma comes from the hops and their shared terpenes with cannabis, particularly myrcene. No THC (the psychoactive component of weed) or CBD is involved in most of these beers, so the similarity stops at the scent.

2. Why does Heineken smell like weed?

Heineken’s mention comes down to its specific hop profile, which includes a noticeable level of myrcene. This isn’t designed to mimic weed but rather a characteristic of the hops used. It’s a classic example of how traditional brewing ingredients can sometimes cross paths with cannabis aromas.

3. What is Skunked Beer

Skunked beer, or “lightstruck” beer, refers to a change in the beer’s smell (and taste) due to exposure to UV light, leading to a chemical reaction that produces a skunk-like odour. This phenomenon is unrelated to the beer inherently smelling like weed due to its hop content. It is a condition that can affect any beer if it’s not properly shielded from light, which is why most brewers use green or brown bottles.

4. Can all beers smell like weed?

Not all, but certainly those with high myrcene hops have the potential. It depends on the hop varieties used and how the brewing process emphasises certain aromas. Craft brewers experimenting with aromatic hops are more likely to produce these “weedy” brews.

5. Is this a new trend?

While the interest in terpene-rich, cannabis-like aromas might seem recent, brewers have been using aromatic hops for centuries. However, the craft beer movement has definitely pushed the envelope, making it more noticeable and a talking point among beer enthusiasts.

The intrigue around beer that smells like weed shows beer drinkers’ evolving tastes and curiosity worldwide. 


So, what have we learned about the intriguing world of beer that smells like weed? Simply put, it’s all about the hops and their terpene buddies, particularly myrcene, which brings that unmistakable weedy aroma to your pint. No, there’s no actual cannabis in these beers, and yes, any beer using high-myrcene hops could potentially have that dank scent. This aromatic exploration isn’t new but has gained traction with craft beer enthusiasts. Whether it’s a Heineken or a crafty concoction from SweetWater, these brews showcase the art and science of brewing, proving that sometimes, a beer is more than just a beer—it’s an aromatic adventure.

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