Fact Checked

What Is Hemp Beer?

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins

Hemp beer is not psychoactive, as if it had been made with another byproduct of Cannibis sativa cultivation &emdash; the bud known popularly as marijuana. Hemp's usefulness is well-known worldwide, as it is used for clothing, fuel, ropes, plastic, paper and in many health remedies. After being crushed, hemp seeds can be added during the beer distillation process to provide a cocktail of nutritional benefits. As a maker of hemp beer told Time magazine in 2003, it will not get a person high, but it can get him or her drunk.

This kind of hemp-infused alcohol is made by more than a dozen manufacturers worldwide, many centered around Europe. Hemp seeds are often toasted and then added during fermentation for beers, wine and other types of alcohol like rum, brandy or vodka. One brand, Cannabis Vodka, is sold with the toasted cannabis seeds floating around on the bottom of the bottle &emdash; one-third nutrition, one-third flavoring and one-third marketing. Other companies merely use hemp as a natural filtration membrane.

Hops, which are used to make hemp beer.
Hops, which are used to make hemp beer.

In the process of making hemp beer, a subtle flavoring can be added by the crushed hemp seeds, especially if the seeds are first toasted. In other beers, especially those that merely employ a hemp filtration system, it may be difficult to even distinguish the ingredient. According to one recipe available from the O'Shea Brewing Company for 420 Hemp Ale, the 1 ounce (30 grams) of crushed seeds is dwarfed by several pounds of typical beer-making ingredients: 6 ounces (170 grams) of malt extract, a pound (453.592 grams) of salt as well as the hops, Irish moss and various ale yeasts that combine to make the liquid a beer.

Hemp plants.
Hemp plants.

What makes hemp beer nutritious is its punch of protein and essential Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Many hemp beer makers insist that the blending of these seeds, from the Cannabis sativa plant, with hops, from the species Humulus lupulus, works well because they are closely related. Both belong to the Cannabinaceae family of plants.

The marketing for hemp beer usually leans suggestively toward the hemp connection, even though the ingredient is often just complimentary. Many companies sport names such as Hemp Brou from the Czech Republic, Hemp Ale from California's Humboldt Brewing Company and Millennium Buzz from Alberta, British Columbia. For companies that do not suggest the hemp connection in their name &emdash; like the Turn brand from Germany that uses hemp blossoms for flavoring &emdash; the packaging is generally clear, with the iconic fan of a marijuana leaf displayed prominently on the label.

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Discussion Comments


What's the best grain for hemp beer, wheat?

Can I make a gluten free beer with it like sorghum beer? Or would the flavors of the sorghum and hemp be weird together?

Please share your favorite hemp beer recipes!


@SarahGen-- I guarantee you, you will not get high on hemp beer. It does contain alcohol obviously, so you can experience a hangover, but you will not experience a high from the hemp.

Hemp seeds and hemp flour are also added to breads and cereals, if it made people high, it would not be allowed.

I think hemp beer is delicious. It's slightly creamy because of the hemp seeds and I like that. It's also very nutritious, so why would you not try it?

My friend brews his own beer and he offered me some of his hemp beer a couple of times. But I couldn't be convinced to drink it because I'm afraid it'll get me high. There are so many different types of beer out there, why should I drink something made from cannabis? No thanks, I'll skip.
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    • Hops, which are used to make hemp beer.
      Hops, which are used to make hemp beer.
    • Hemp plants.
      By: Boyan Dimitrov
      Hemp plants.
    • Malt extract is known for its use in brewing beer.
      By: Greg Peverill-Conti
      Malt extract is known for its use in brewing beer.
    • Hemp seeds are added to beer during distillation to make hemp beer.
      By: jurgajurga
      Hemp seeds are added to beer during distillation to make hemp beer.