8

In my experience, some beers smell like cannabis. Stella Artios is a distinctive example.

What causes this? - Is it due to a type of hop, or a style?

11

The fact that both Humulus lupulus (hops) and Cannabis sativa (marijuana) have similar organoleptic properties (taste and smell) could indicate a common ancestry--but it isn't proof. Lots of plants make similar aroma molecules, known as terpenes and terpenoid compounds, including lemons (which make limonene), lavender (linalool) and conifers (pinene) -- but none of them are closely related to cannabis or hops.

Full article here

  • In which case - why don't more beers smell like cannabis? – dwjohnston Jan 22 '14 at 4:44
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    Because most of the aroma is stripped out in the brewing process, unless it's actively pushed back in through dry hopping. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 22 '14 at 4:51
  • They do in fact have a common ancestry. Both are, they are both member of the Cannabaceae family. – Brian Nickel Jan 22 '14 at 20:06
  • I think it is kind of like Humans and Apes are both primates. I agree they have that ancestry; but that small percent variability makes a world of difference. – BryceH Jan 22 '14 at 20:17
  • @Grohlier much closer than that even. Think dogs and wolves, not humans and apes. – LessPop_MoreFizz Feb 1 '14 at 15:01
7

The 'dank' scent you're experiencing is the smell of Hops - among the closest botanical neighbors to the Marijuana plant and a key ingredient of beer. The two plants both look and smell nearly identical. Specifically, the dank, resiny scent you pick up from a very hoppy brew is the smell of so-called "Alpha Acids" - which are chemically a part of the same family as THC, the active ingredient in Marijuana.

As to why some beers are, well, dank, and others aren't? It's a factor of the highly variable alpha acid content in different hop varietals, as well as a question of process. Most of the aromatic alpha acids in hops boil off or dissolve as part of the normal fermentation process, however, some brewers 'dry hop' their beer - adding additional hops at the end of the process, with the explicit purpose of enhancing the aromatic qualities of the beer.

  • 1
    actually the plants are close enough that one can be grafted onto the other. – Chris Travers Jan 22 '14 at 5:45

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