Pairing beer and weed: a match made in heaven

Published on November 24, 2020
weed and beer

Cannabis and the hops in beer are cousins, both members of the Cannabaceae family of plants. These two plants have a lot of similarities in both physical and chemical characteristics, so it makes sense that they naturally compliment each other. Both also have resinous green flowers that produce terpenes responsible for pungent aromas and a delicious taste.

Terpenes play a big role in the flavor profile of a beer, however, in cannabis, not only do they affect the overall taste and aroma, they also influence the high. Cannabis and hops actually share a lot of the same terpenes, like myrcene, pinene, and humulene. There’s a reason people use the same descriptors to talk about weed and beer: earthy, floral, skunky, citrus, spice, etc. 

Here’s a list of types of beers and the perfect weed strains to compliment them. Enjoy!

IPAs and Skunks

super skunk
Skunk. (Leafly)

Currently the most popular beer in the world, India Pale Ales are taking over the beer aisle at your local grocery store. Hops and yeast are responsible for its unique flavor profile. During fermentation, the yeast in ales gathers toward the top of the tank, producing an aromatic flavor profile in the finished product. 

Skunk weed strains are the perfect compliment to an IPA, as they can stand up to the bold aromatics of the beer. Skunk #1 is a fantastic heirloom strain created in the 1970s, and crosses of Skunk #1 are easy to find—they usually have “skunk” in their name. 

Skunk strains have a reputation for being uplifting and euphoric—a great daytime high. If you can’t find the classic Skunk #1, Lemon Skunk, Pineapple Skunk, and Skunk 47 are popular crosses that live up to the original. 

If you are looking for a tasty IPA, Dankful by Sierra Nevada, Zombie Dust by 3 Floyds, and Voodoo Ranger by New Belgium are great places to start.  

Stouts and XJ-13

Jack Herer

Stouts get their unique chocolate and coffee flavor profile from roasted barley. You probably don’t want to drink a stout while out in the hot sun, but these beautiful dark beers are perfect for winter, when you want to cozy up indoors. 

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Stouts are often aged in bourbon barrels to impart a deeper, more complex flavor. They are also perfect for adding nitro carbonation, which helps cut the richness of the beer by creating a more vibrant mouth feel. 

Fruity flavors compliment the chocolate in stouts. Chocolate notes offer a deep, earthy sweetness, and citrus notes are more vibrant and sharp. 

What better strain to pair with a stout than XJ-13. Its citrusy sweetness blends with the chocolate notes of a stout, and the pine from the XJ-13 intermingles with the coffee and earthy flavors of the stout. 

XJ-13 is also a great compliment because it will keep your mind happy and active: It’s thought of as a great social strain. You may want to stay cozy inside while it’s snowing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to fall asleep on the couch. 

Sour beers and Sour OG

sour diesel

Sour beers are the result of adding a lactobacillus culture to an ale as it’s brewing, producing a beer that is—you guessed it—sour and tart. Some sours also incorporate fruit to balance out that sour flavor. Sour beers are definitely an acquired taste, but they have a very loyal following.

Like sour beers, sour strains are often an acquired taste. But once you get that loud aroma and sharp flavor profile, there is nothing like it. Sour Diesel is legendary in the cannabis world, and its offspring are starting to make a name for themselves as well.

Sour OG is a cross of Sour Diesel and OG Kush—two powerhouse weed strains that incorporate the best of both parents. Not only does Sour OG offer the classic sour diesel flavor profile, the OG Kush imparts a little earthiness that smoothes it all out. Very potent, this strain will get both your head and body buzzing. It generally comes on fast, with a long and relaxing tail. 

For sour ales, be sure to check out La Folie by New Belgium, Miami Madness by J Wakefield Brewing or Veruca Snozzberry Gose by Funky Buddha Brewery. 

Wheat ales and Lavender

Lavender. (Leafly)

Wheat ales get their unique characteristics from grain added during the brewing process, which impacts the flavor and body of the beer. Wheat beers tend to be smoother and creamier than other lightly colored beers and offer an almost banana flavor with a hint of spice. If you want a light beer with the feel of a stout, wheat ales are nothing short of delicious. 

A smooth beer calls for a smooth strain. Lavender is a wonderful strain that makes its name with a unique terpene profile. The terpene linalool usually doesn’t show up in large quantities in cannabis, but when it does, a little goes a long way. This terpene is responsible for the floral aroma of cannabis, the perfect pairing for the earthy sweetness of a wheat beer. The effects of Lavender are known to relax and give you the giggles, a great strain for when you want to unwind after a long day.

Wheat beers are relatively common and you can find quality local beers from brewers like Blue Moon and Shock Top at your local grocery store. But Belgian and German wheat beers set the standard in this market: Be sure to check the Weissbier from Spaten Franziskaner, or for a darker wheat, try Weihenstephaner’s Hefeweissbier Dunkel

Lagers and Pineapple Chunk

pineapple chunk
Pineapple Chunk. (Leafly)

More lagers are produced than any other beer in the world. Unlike ales, yeast gathers at the bottom of the tank during fermentation with lagers, creating a beer that is crisp and refreshing, adjectives that many of the big lager producers, such as Budweiser and Miller, use to describe their beers. 

Lager is the everyman beer, so it’s best to pick a strain that offers a little bit of everything, something like Pineapple Chunk. You’ll pick up notes of skunk and cheese and also get a lot of sweetness from the pineapple in its genetics. A lot of times this strain will even have a little CBD to help mellow out the experience. As well as making your body feel great, this strain delivers an intense cerebral high. It’s an all-around solid strain.

If you are looking for a more robust lager, try an Oktoberfest from Great Lakes Brewing Co., Solid Gold from Founders Brewing Co., or a Prima Pils from Victory Brewing. 

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Adam Pallay
Adam Pallay
Adam is Leafly’s Education Editor, specializing in helping people build expertise within the cannabis industry. He has spent the last five years working every job imaginable in retail cannabis and looks forward to continuing to help customers through writing.
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