The Transbay Challenge: Growers Battle for San Francisco Bragging Rights

Over the past weekend, Cannabis Now was the exclusive media partner for Jimi Devine’s Transbay Challenge. Here is the full rundown of the growers who participated and the amazing strains they entered.

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The winning Ziablo strain from IC Collective.Photo Chewberto420 for IC Collective

Last month, I was propositioned by a San Francisco pop-up art space to host an event during its two-month run in the city.

At first, I was a little squeamish. I hadn’t taken part in the production side of any major cannabis events in some time. Back in the day, I helped get the ball rolling on the original New West Summit cannabis conference in the Bay Area before part of the ownership changed hands. Since I’d exited the cannabis event space on such a high note, I didn’t want to come back and do anything that wouldn’t be up to past standards.

But the allure of putting something together in the art space just before harvest season kicked into full gear would prove too tempting. In recent years, I must humbly admit that I’ve been pretty ahead of the curve when it came to cannabis genetics journalism and I’m lucky to have made some great working relationships. With so many Bay Area names from both sides of every bridge on the list, I figured The Transbay Challenge was a perfect moniker and I sent out the invites.

Unfortunately, about a week later, the art pop-up got shutdown. Thankfully the folks at Gold Seal offered to host and we were on once again. In the end, we’d have multiple time Cannabis Cup and Emerald Cup winners in the mix, and one smoky barbeque.

Transbay Challenge judges from left: Elise McDonough, Jimi Devine, Ngaio Bealum and Ellen Holland. (Photo courtesy Jimi Devine)

I knew I had to get some great judges onboard quick. Despite calling podium spots at The Emerald Cup the last two years, a few more pros would be critical to keep the process as legit as possible. The diverse group included Cannabis Now Senior Editor Ellen Holland and longtime comedian, weed critic on Netflix’s “Cooking on High” and Emerald Cup Judge Ngaio Bealum, who provided his years of experience combing through the world’s best outdoor pot every November. While the competition was flower only, leading edible journalist Elise McDonough joined to remind all that she puffs tough.

The flowers were the star of the show. Each jar presented something different than its peers on the table. In the end, only one would be selected unanimously by all four of the judges: the Ziablo from IC Collective.

We’ve mentioned the Ziablo a couple of times already lately. It was one of our Strains of Summer and without a doubt one of the best things in the room at Hall of Flowers last week, where growers showed their wares direct to buyers. This batch was a pinch sweeter than some of the other batches we’d seen on opening the jar, but a little crunch and that sugar-laced gasoline aroma jumped right out.

“Puffing on the Ziablo cut through the effects of the previous two joints and got me incredibly high!” said McDonough.

The runner-up was Red Congolese from hosts Gold Seal. Three of the four judges had it on their list. Third place saw a tie between Commune’s fantastic Durban Poison x Gushers F1 and Triples SF’s exceptionally authentic Triple Scoop Gelato.

“I’m a sucker for landrace genetics so the Red Congolese from Gold Seal and F1 Durban x Gushers cross from Commune bubbled to the top,” said Holland. “Both had very impressive bud structures. The Red Congo buds were absolutely massive and the Durban x Gushers buds were such a deep beautiful purple hue. While the Durban x Gushers cure was a bit fresh, the stone was an undeniable upper that had me feeling chatty. The Red Congo has this lovely herbal spice, I pulled a taste of lemongrass from the dry hit.” 

McDonough agreed with Holland’s take on the Red Congolese, saying it’s one of her go-to stains for creativity and energy. She then gave her thoughts on the Triple Scoop Gelato. “The Gelato was the best smoking experience of the bunch, it was expertly cured, smooth and creamy on the palate,” said McDonough.

The third-place Durban x Gushers cross from Commune. Photo Jimi Devine.

Bealum was a big fan of the whole lineup.

“Weed needs more tasting parties,” he said. “I had a great time. We definitely need to make space for craft growers and the Transbay C does a great job highlighting cannabis made with love.”

And just because it didn’t win doesn’t mean it wasn’t awesome pot. Compound Genetics was kind enough to bring by his amazing Marshmellow OG, which smelled like someone pressed peppermint patties against a pine tree. Another one the judges liked was the Old Mother Gorilla from Foxworthy Farms.

“The Foxworthy Farms’ Old Mother Gorilla, with that Old Mother from the hills of Laytonville crossed with Gorilla Glue #4, was a sleeper hit that brought on an immediate potent stone,” said Holland.

Sponsors for the event included The Cannabis Buyers Club of Berkeley and Casa Sanchez San Francisco.

TELL US, have you ever had cannabis from the Bay Area?

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