Thorn Street Brewery, who earlier this month were awarded the silver medal in the Imperial Red category at the World Beer Cup, released the first batch of Session IPA infused with cannabis derived terpenes provided by Jetty last week. The terpenes profiles being added are strain specific, the 4.20 ABV beer is aptly named OG HighPA.
Jetty’s need to isolate terpenes prior to producing high end cannabis oil provided the opportunity for the collaboration.
“It has been a race to get the closest to pure THC for years, once we start getting close in these 80 to 90 percent ranges you’ve long burned off all your terpenes, you’re closer to pure THC than anything. The problem with that is that it tastes like garbage. You’re getting good and high, but it’s not pleasant because you’ve ripped all the pleasantries out of it. You’ve isolated it,” said Matthew Lee of Jetty. “So what we did was figure out a way to take the terpenes out of the fresh plant material first set those aside do our extractions and get out distillate, our high THC oil, then put the terpenes back in to return all the smells and flavors. So that’s why we originally started doing it.”
Lee realized many of the terpenes he was recovering were the same ones found in hops, with a vastly increased number of varieties.
“It’s the same thing as hops which also gets it flavor from certain terpenes, cannabis just happens to have significantly more terpenes and combination possibilities,” he said. “So we were just kind of curious to what it would taste like with certain beer and so far, so good.”
The actual creation of the final product was left to Thorn Street’s Head Brewer Eric O’Connor. O’Connor said much of the credit goes to Lee from Jetty, who is a friend of one of the brewers. He let them know he was getting essential oils out of cannabis plants that smell fantastic, but wasn’t sure what to do with them. He had a sample and O’Connor had never smelt anything like it before, it blew him away. He found the smallest measuring pipette he could and decided on 1 microliter. He felt that was a realistic amount for the sample as the terpenes would have to stretch far over larger batches and didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.
“We stirred it in the first sample and the nose on it was amazing, the flavor ended up having a minty crispness to it that just blended perfectly with the hops,” said O’Connor.
With the first test showing solid results, everyone was now running around the tasting room putting microliters into assorted beers. For fun on 420, they put just enough in a keg to basically have one whole keg of it.
The experienced brewers at Thorn Street Brewery were a big part of the equation when it came to experimenting on the strain specific terpene profiles.
“We did a Pineapple Kush with Thorn Street Brewery and it’s super high in limonene and a few other citrusy terpenes,” Lee said.
When asked if these were strain specific beers without the THC he noted, “Exactly, but who knows what flavors you’re going to get. Brewers have been doing it forever. They’ll use Cascade hops, they’ll use noble hops, and then they’ll blend the two and get different flavors. Why can’t we do that with cannabis? That was kind of our thinking. If I have some OG Kush at the time, I’ll distill all the terpenes off of that. I’ll either add it back into my oil or give it to a local brewer that we like and throw it into some beer. You take it for a lab test it comes back zero percent on the cannabinoid profile, but the terpenes are off the charts. It’s so neat!”
Unknown to Jetty and Thorn Street, their collaboration had actually been years in the making.
“It’s kind of funny, Thorn Street Brewery originated from a homebrew and Hydroponic store at the same location that I owned before the brewery, it’s a match made in heaven,” said Dennis O’Connor owner of Thorn Street Brewery. Lee from Jetty was a patron of the Hydroponics store back in the day and when he realized their affiliation with Thorn Street he approached them about the HighPA collaboration.
“I think this is a great product, it’s novel but at the same time it fit’s being hops and cannabis are pretty much cousins,” Dennis O’Connor said.
Thorn Street Brewery and Jetty plan a major production run. Thorn Street distributes to 100 accounts across Southern California and beyond, right now they are in the process of selling what is expected to be 200-300 kegs. Currently the terpenes are being submitted to The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau who regulates the beer industry in regards to what ingredients are acceptable to infuse into beers and what’s not. With that final approval from feds on their terps, Jetty and Thorn Street Brewery could take the terpene infused beer line national. They also plan to release HighPA in cans in the next three months, pending approval on their labeling.
When Lee was asked what it meant for Jetty to work with a respected brewery and fellow San Diego business on the project he responded, “That’s huge for us, we’re a local San Diego company and we just happen to be in the beer capital of the world. So it just goes hand in hand. To be able to approach people like Thorn Street and Stone, who are also in our backyard, is just invaluable. They’re the best of the best, I think we have a 150 different microbreweries and craft breweries here in San Diego so it’s cool man. The fishing grounds are rich down here.”
What do you think? Would you try this terp-tastic brew?