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The hiss of a beer bottle opening is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. When it comes to downing a cold one, you’re bound to relish in the refreshing taste of whatever brew is your favorite. In a way, it’s comparable to lighting up a joint of your preferred flower and settling in to enjoy the experience.
That’s right, the hops used in a foaming pint and the cannabis in a gummy edible actually both contribute to adding flavor and depth – and the ever-growing terpene industry is making way for introducing new flavors and fragrances in liquid bread.
So what exactly are terpenes? The term is thrown around a lot, but often the scientific mumbo-jumbo makes understanding what they are and where they come from a task. Let’s not complicate things: terpenes are aromatic compounds that are found in many plants, not just cannabis.
They characterize the scent and flavor of other plants like pine, rosemary, and lavender, adding depth to whatever they’re used in, from perfumes and body products to food and beer.
Basically, terpenes help you identify what you’re consuming by the smell, like recognizing the tropical and fruity scent of Maui Wowie and appreciating the coffee undertones of an ice-cold Guinness.
Some of the most common that are found both in hops and cannabis are myrcene, beta-pinene, and alpha-humulene (you don’t have to remember the names, just enjoy their effects).
When found in nature, terpenes do a heck of a good job of protecting plants from the outside world, from harsh weather to predators. When it comes to their effects on the human body, the jury is still out but research is on its way to discovering all the benefits terpenes bring to the table.
One thing we do know: they let us classify and predict the effects of the products they’re found in.
It might explain why different strains with the same THC level can produce such different effects, not to mention flavor and scent. Terpenes don’t really get you high, but they’re certainly a player in the game when it comes to the effects that you’ll feel.
Think of them like adding a spicy salsa to your taco – the salsa doesn’t make the taco, but the taco would definitely not be the same without the spiciness that the salsa provides.
Terpenes are also showing signs of being great for our bodies: they hold potential benefits for anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Different terpenes hold different advantages: limonene (it smells citrusy, duh) holds anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.
Linalool, which abounds in the lavender plant, is found in many aromatherapy products and has neuroprotective, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety properties.
We could go on and on about the benefits that each terpene brings about, but there are just too many to get into. We are yet to see the full spectrum of benefits that terpenes hold, but there’s a lot to unpack that will help us understand their full potential.
There’s no question that terpenes hold a lot of the flavor and outcome in cannabis, but what about beer? Breweries tend to infuse them into their beers to give a complex flavor profile. They’re typically added before the beer carbonation process in isolates to ensure maximum usage, as they can be reduced during the yeast’s oxidation.
We’ve got to talk about the most terpene-dense plant found in beer: hops. It’s to blame for a lot of properties found in beer, even contributing to the bitter flavor. Each variety of hops has its own unique characteristics that add to the flavor and aroma, but the grand majority contains the three most dominant terpenes: myrcene, alpha-caryophyllene, and beta-pinene.
The classic terpenes found in beer are great, leaving no question as to why they’re so popular, but as we live in an era where traditional production is left behind, we’re able to embrace the innovation that comes with experimenting.
Many breweries are getting ahead of the curve by mixing and matching terpenes found in CBD and THC to create new and improved flavor profiles that make even the beer connoisseurs do a double-take.
Cannabis brews are here to stay as legalization spreads across the world, and we’re not mad about it. On the contrary, what an exciting time to be alive! Even Corona has gotten in on it. What once was a niche product is becoming a favorite for weed- and beer-lovers alike, whether they want to get high or just enjoy the flavor.
The search for new flavors in beer is ongoing, as the industry seeks to expand the experience. CBD- and THC-infused brews are nothing new, but new flavors are popping up all the time. Craft beers have specially made their way into the terpene world, offering new ways to experience the age-old love of the brew.
If you haven’t tried terpene-infused beer yet, now is as good of a time as ever. Life’s too short to miss out on the world of brew, right? Whether you’re a beer newbie or a pro, there’s no doubt that you’ll find new experiences that bring your night of rounds up a notch.
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