4.6.7 CANNA-BEER, by D. Gold

Hi Everybody,

I’m about to brew some cannabis beer.  A friend offered me a bunch of 9 year old pulverized bubba kush flowers that were sealed up in mylar bags in 2011.  They sat in the sun sometimes and weren’t at all temperature controlled.  They were sealed in untreated air (as opposed to nitrogen or CO2).

I figure there oughta be a pretty high CBN content by this time as the THC content was way up there when they were stored away a decade or so ago. CBN is being described as having a lot of sedative qualities lately.   A few years back, one researcher said that preliminary studies showed that 5 mg. Of CBN was like 10 mg. of Valium. 

I immediately called “bullshit’ on that, having experienced various dosages of Valium back in the 1970s, when “vitamin V” was a running gag on Saturday Night Live.  Further research has shown that CBN does indeed have sedative effects, just not the mg. for mg. ratio first described.  A few hundred mg. of CBN is going to be far easier on the organism than twice that amount of diazepam.

I’m hoping that a real good dose of this particular cannabis, in a medium-strong, very lightly hopped English Pale Ale, just might be the perfect late-in-the-day, all work done, time to kick back brewski.

I have a lot of experience brewing, but never made a canna-beer.  I’m thinking putting the pulverized flowers in a mesh bag and soaking in the beer during fermentation, and maybe a week or two additional soak after all the goodies have turned to alcohol before legging or bottling.

Any ideas on how efficient this method would be in extracting the cannabinoids + other goodies would be appreciated.  And any insight from those who may have actually brewed cannabis beer would also be very much appreciated.

I would guess that the stronger the beer, the better the extraction ... meaning that there probably won’t be much extraction happening during the first days of the ferment, but as the alcohol levels rise, so will the amount of cannabis goodies dissolved there in.

Tips on maintaining the beer taste while loading up the brew with a mighty dose of cannabis? I want it to taste good, as well as being medicinally ass-kicking!  

To get the substantial cannabis dosage I want, and preserve the taste I want, I might have to go with tincture. 

I know I could just extract the cannabis and add it to the beer, but I think that using pulverized flowers could produce a fine-tasting brew, once the recipe is worked out and refined a bit. Using the flowers as if they were hops is more in line with the brewing arts than just adding some powder or oil ... although I will soon try that, too.

Back in the early 1990s I brewed and sold a beer called Olde 420 Deadhead Draft. I went thru the whole process with the ATF and the California ABC to sell it. Creston Brewing Co. was the smallest legal microbrewery in the country at the time. 

It was a fine beer.  SF Weekly magazine awarded it “best beer” in 1995 or so. It was packaged in signed and numbered champagne bottles for $10 retail per bottle.

Had it in most all of the liquor stores in the Bay Area, and some stores in New York City and upper New Jersey.

I never bothered to get permission, as I knew the Dead wouldn’t endorse a beer. I thought that I had skirted the trademark stuff pretty skillfully, and, after having it in most of the liquor stores in Marin County for a while, I figured that I was home free. Time to start marketing across the country.

I got to know the guy who ran the liquor store in Tiburon, and he let me know how the band felt about the beer.  Jerry loved it.  Bob thought it was cool, but wasn’t drinking alcohol at the time. Jerry’s fondness for the beer is what enabled me to keep it alive, without any formal OK from Dead Merchandising, who were none too happy with me at the time.

Then Jerry died.

Of course, I did a “remembering Jerry” bottling, and sold it across California for a year. It was in every BevMo across the state for a while and a few pallets made it to New York.

At exactly a year after Jerry’s death. I get a letter from Dead Merchandising informing me that I had stepped on their intellectual property in about a dozen places, as they put it, and it would be best for me to stop marketing Deadhead Draft.  They were nice about it, but pretty damn firm.  Time to do something new.

This was the latter part of 1995.  California had just voted to legalize medical cannabis.  What I would do next was pretty much pre-ordained. In June 1996, I opened the first new cannabis dispensary in San Francisco after medical legalization, joining those brave pioneers like Dennis Peron who had been serving SF patients for a few years under city law, but in opposition to state and federal laws ... and getting regularly busted by both the state and the feds.

The brewery was located on a ranch I had about 150 miles south of San Francisco.  When Prop. 215 passed, I didn’t have a choice.  I had to go to SF and participate. I likened my need to go north and participate in the new legalization to the old Star Trek wherein  Spock had to return to Vulcan every 7 years and procreate ... or die.   Something like a salmon returning to its spawning grounds.  I just flat out knew that if legal ... or even quasi-legal ... cannabis was happening in San Francisco, there was no way that I could not go be a part of it. I was in line at Dennis’ Cannabis Buyers Club on Jan. 2, medical rec in hand.

Being able to grow and sell cannabis in San Francisco was extremely exciting, and the brewery went into storage.  Only brewed a couple of times since then.  But I have still never tasted a beer as good as the Deadhead Draft we used to make, either homemade or commercial, and I am really looking forward to making it again.  And if a hefty dose of CBN does to the brew what I think it might, that will be a nice bonus.

(Lots of cool photos of Olde 420 Deadhead Draft on the web. Bottles now highly collectible.)


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