Suds ’n’ Buds: Lagunitas Brings Hoppy Cannabis Drinks to Colorado

If the White Claw memes and CBD sections at liquor stores haven’t tipped you off, let us be the ones to tell you that the beer business is struggling. Non-alcoholic drinks and less caloric options have made the once-thriving craft-beer industry look for new ways to satisfy your thirst.

Lagunitas Brewing Company, already known for its love for cannabis, took a natural route toward the pot-infused side of things. The brewery’s Hi-Fi Hops drink, a hoppy seltzer infused with CBD, THC or both, hit Colorado dispensaries this fall, giving users a terpene-filled splash of cannabinoids. To learn more about how the drink is made and the loving history that Lagunitas has with the plant, we chatted with Hi-Fi head brewer Jeremy Marshall.

Westword: Do you come from a background of brewing beer? How does one end up making this beverage?

Jeremy Marshall: I’m a brewer by trade. I’ve worked in all functions and operations at the brewery, from cellar work to filtration to brewing, so I know beer. Since the dawn of time, there’ve been sodas or drinks that aren’t beer but still have hops in them. They’re typically made by the Germans.

So we noticed how terrible most non-alcoholic beers are, and we wanted something that was NA but still tasted like beer. We landed on this idea of a hoppy refresher, which is basically what would happen if you left the grain out of brewing beer and kept all of the other steps, especially the hopping. It’s got yeast and hops in it, and some beer PH to bring the water’s PH level down.

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We were hanging out with the people at CannaCraft in California, drinking some of those, and someone asked why we didn’t just infuse those drinks [with cannabis]. It was a few of us just chillin’ at the time, and that idea went on to become Hi-Fi.

How does the brewing process work?

It’s like making beer, but skipping the malt. Malt is what gives you ferment-able sugars, like booze. Malt is also what gives you calories, gluten and mouthfeel. When you think of beer as liquid bread, it’s the malt that makes that comment ring true. But when you take the malt out, it makes the drink sort of a hop tonic or hoppy water. We didn’t invent this category — Germans have been doing it for a while — but we’d seen a few come out to the market, and we wanted to make one with our hops and our ways, with that big punch of myrcene that hops can give.

We didn’t want any bitterness, because there’s no malt in it. Brewers typically add hops to provide bitterness that counteracts the malt. In this case, since there’s no malt, we did all dry-hopping instead of kettle-hopping, so you get the flavor without the bitterness you’d get from kettle-hopping.

Since terpenes are also in cannabis, could you brew or dry-hop beer with cannabis?

Absolutely. However, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau needs a much-needed update in its hemp policy. It basically says we can only use seeds and stems in brewing, and those don’t have any terpenes. I see no reason why brewers can’t use hemp, because it only has 0.3 percent THC, and it won’t put any THC in the beer. I’d like to do that, but I can’t legally.

Alcohol and cannabis share a lot of similarities: they’ve both been subject to prohibition, and people could get them during Prohibition with a prescription. Hops and cannabis are almost the same plant, and some people think they were the same plant around 27 million years ago. When you look at their genetic records, you could trace the markers to the point where hops diverged to chase water and cannabis stayed to grow in dry climates.

Have you or any of your brewer friends tried making cannabis beers at home?

Oh, yeah. There are loads of tales from growers in the Emerald Triangle, in the ’80s and ’90s, brewing some stuff in Humboldt [County, California]. There’s a story about a brewer out there who got fired for taking a bunch of nugs and soaking them in a keg of beer.

If you can brew it with hemp and don’t have THC, it could be done at breweries. I don’t see a future where the government allows mixing alcohol and THC together. But if you just want to capture that bouquet of terpenes and the smell, maybe we can get a policy change to allow brewers to brew beer with hemp. I’ve been working on that concept. [The New Belgium Hemperor is brewed with hemp seeds.]

Most brewing companies that have gotten into THC and even CBD-infused drinks haven’t used their own names. Why do you think Lagunitas does?

Well, we wanted people to know where it came from! Some of the guys who are spinning off to make CBD drinks are technically breaking the law, because the FDA has said they’re not legal, so that could be why they’re using different names.

I think the tie-in here is the hops. Most of those drinks you’re talking about don’t have hops in them, but this does, because we want it to be like a beer.

And the brewery has never really shied away from its love for cannabis, has it?

Nope. Remember, we’re the only brewery that’s been raided and shut down for weed consumption. Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale comes out every spring [to commemorate that]. I was there in 2005 when we got raided, and there were these commando guys in all-black with machine guns. And ultimately, they found one joint.

They thought Lagunitas wasn’t even a legitimate brewery. They thought we were a front for selling weed, so they were trying to send in agents to make purchases from people working on the bottom, guys making $ 12 an hour. What was funny is that when the agents tried making purchases, no one would sell them anything; they’d just break off a piece of a nug and give it to them for free.

They couldn’t arrest them for trafficking, because they just gave it to the agents. They also tried to get us busted for allowing underage drinkers, and we didn’t. They thought we were some elaborate operation, and at the end of the day, they charged us with a disorderly house, which is used for brothels and places like that. The other charge was moral turpitude, which is some Bible term. They’re really old, arcane laws.

Funny how you ended up here, then.

With time, it appears, we were on the right side of history after 2005. Our founder, Tony Magee, said, “Do the crime, do the time, and get the bragging rights.”

Toke of the Town

‘Secret Life of Pets 2’ Comes Home to Sit ‘n’ Stay

Heartwarming, gut-busting animated family blockbuster The Secret Life of Pets 2 is ready to be adopted on disc and digital this summer, through Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Illumination Entertainment’s warm and fuzzy sequel arrives on Digital August 13, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on August 27. DVD and Digital versions are packed with well over an hour of bonus content, including two brand-new mini-movies. Meanwhile, 4K and Blu-ray versions include an exclusive Captain Snowball Motion Comic.

In The Secret Life of Pets 2, terrier Max (Patton Oswalt) is coping with major life changes after Katie’s marriage and the arrival of a toddler, Liam. Meanwhile, Gidget (Jenny Slate) tries to rescue Max’s favorite toy from a cat-packed apartment with a little help from her feline friend, Chloe (Lake Bell), who has discovered the joys of catnip. And Snowball (Kevin Hart) believes, despite the other pets’ teasing, that he’s a superhero after his owner starts dressing him in superhero pajamas. But when Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), a fearless Shih Tzu, shows up to ask for Snowball’s help on a dangerous mission, he’ll have to summon the courage to become the hero he’s been pretending to be.

The voice cast also features Eric Stonestreet, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Harrison Ford in his first-ever animation role: a farm dog named Rooster.

Bonus Features (4K, Blu-ray, DVD & Digital):

  • Mini Movie: Minion Scouts – When Margo, Agnes and Edith return from Badger Scout camp, three of the Minions are entranced by the girls’ merit badges. Their own attempt at scout camp results in attracting a bear, eating poison berries and eventually blowing up a dam, creating a massive flood. But, when they arrive back home, the girls share their badges, encouraging the rest of the Minions to try their hand at scouting.
  • Mini Movie: Super Gidget – When Max is kidnapped by an army of squirrels, Super Gidget is the only one who can save him. It turns out that Max’s captor is a flea with the power of mind control. Gidget must use her pluckiness, strength and smarts to save her one true love…until it turns out it was all just a dream.
  • The Making of the Mini Movies – Every Illumination film is accompanied by mini movies that are a production all their own. Each film’s directing partners will explore how the mini movies were made.
  • Deleted Scenes: “Wake Up” – Max and Duke have a new morning routine with Liam. “Duke Explores the Farm” – Duke has a funny interaction with a goat. “Snowball Karate” – Snowball does his superhero warm up. “Secret Confessions” – Dogs gather to talk about their deepest secrets.
  • A Tapestry of a Tail: The Making Of – The plot of The Secret Life of Pets 2 involves multiple storylines ultimately coming together to create a larger than life tale. We talk with the filmmakers, editor and cast about the delicate dance of juggling multiple narratives in one movie.
  • How to Draw – Hosted by Head of Story, Eric Favela, follow the step-by-step tutorial to learn to draw Max, Snowball and Chloe.
  • Frame by Frame: How to Make a Flip Book – In this DIY-style vignette, Head of Story Eric Favela will teach viewers about the essence of animation and how they can create their very own flip book animations at home.
  • Character Pods – Get a closer look at your favorite characters of The Secret Life of Pets 2 with these delightful character pods that might just give away a few more pet secrets. Patton Oswalt – Max; Kevin Hart – Snowbal;l Eric Stonestreet – Duke; Jenny Slate – Gidget; Tiffany Haddish – Daisy; Lake Bell – Chloe; Nick Kroll – Sergei; Dana Carvey – Pops; Bobby Moynihan – Mel; Harrison Ford – Rooster
  • A Party Fit for a Pet – Using stop-motion animation, this step-by-step guide teaches you everything you need to know to throw the very best party for your pet!
  • Pops’ Puppy Training School with Kevin Hart – Join Kevin Hart as he shows off his dog training skills.
  • Pets Yule Log – Sit back and relax in front of this exclusive The Secret Life of Pets 2 themed animated ‘Yule Log.’
  • ‘Panda’ Lyric Video
  • ‘It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day (The Secret Life of Pets 2)’ Lyric Video

4K & Blu-ray Exclusive:

  • The Further Adventures of Captain Snowball (Interactive) – This animated ‘Motion Comic’ expands the world of our furry hero, Captain Snowball. Using a ‘superhero’ comic book style and custom animation, we discover more about the secret world of our caped crusader with a little help from our viewers. At key moments in the story, the viewer is presented with a choice: left, or right? Fight or flight? Their choice determines our hero’s next move!

4K, Blu-ray & Digital Exclusives:

  • My Buddy and Me – We interview the Illumination cast and crew talking about The Secret Life of Pets 2 while holding (or trying to hold) their pets.
  • Pets with Jobs: A Documentary – We find and profile animals with special jobs – a service dog that detects when its epileptic owner is about to have a seizure; ponies that provide comfort to children with cancer; police dogs that go the extra mile to catch the bad guys. Meet some of the many animals who make the world a better place every day!
  • Relax the Cat: The Secret Life of Pets Massage – A professional pet masseuse shows the cast how to read signs of tension in their pet and use massage techniques to keep their furry babies relaxed and happy!
  • Production Pets – It takes hundreds of people to make an animated movie and a lot of those people have pets that can’t wait for them to come home. This piece is dedicated to all those faithful companions.

Animation Magazine

Saturday at the Movies: “Tie-Died: Rock ‘n Roll’s Most Deadicated Fans”

tie diedFor this installment of Saturday at the Movies, we’re checking out the documentary film “Tie-Died”, which was recorded back in the summer of ’94, one year before the passing of Grateful Dead guitarist/vocalist Jerry Garcia.

This unique film gives viewers an opportunity to explore the religiously committed fan base known as Dead Heads, fans that relentlessly followed the legendary band from town to town, without having to endure the putrid aroma of sweaty sandals and a serious lack of personal hygiene.

So, lather on the Patchouli oil, strap on those old nasty Birkenstock’s that should have been thrown out in the ’80s, dig that tie-dye t-shirt out of the back of the closet, roll up a few doobies and let’s toke along with the most committed music fans (some of them probably should have been committed) on the face of the planet: the Dead Heads!

Thanks for flying with The 420 Times! We hope you dig the flick! Absorb the “X Factor”!

The 420 Times