If you’ve ever popped opened a beer and smelled hints of marijuana, there’s a horticultural reason for that. Just ask Dale Katechis (he of Dale’s Pale Ale fame), who founded Colorado favorite Oskar Blues Brewery in 1997.
“Like a lot of our beers, the hop character and the aroma has always reminded people of cannabis,” Katechis told The Cannabist. “The cannabis plant and flower and the hop flower, they’re both in the family of cannabaceae, and the aromas are very similar.”
Oskar Blues’ latest brew is a shout-out to hops’ not-so-distant cousin. The new year-round brew, Pinner, is a session beer — a 4.9 percent ABV, dry-hopped IPA. For those of you who haven’t read our New Cannabis Lexicon — which gathers 420-friendly terms new and old for the modern cannabis connoisseur — a pinner is a “tiny, thin joint low on marijuana content.”
Get the joke? A low-alcohol session beer named after a low-marijuana joint? Oskar Blues isn’t much for subtlety; Above the can’s Pinner logo is the question: “Can I be blunt?”
“Most of our beer-naming sessions have become these creative sessions after work with a beer,” said Katechis. “When we were growing up, pinners were small joints. So as a smaller ABV beer came into play, and as we associated the aroma and hop characters of cannabis, the name made sense.”
As with another Oskar Blues dry-hopped beer, imperial porter G’Knight — which is quite a bit stronger than Pinner at 8.7 percent ABV — Katechis wanted something specific out of his new brew.
“It should hit you right in the face, as soon as you smell the beer,” Katechis said. “It was almost unanimous when you gave G’Night to someone and they said, ‘Wow, that smells like marijuana.’ We’ve enjoyed that because we like the smell of marijuana. Having a beer with that very orange-y, citrus aroma that has been called ‘kind bud,’ we enjoy it — and it resonates with our customers, who enjoy it as well.”
The idea behind the beer was simple: “We wanted to create a beer, an IPA that had a great deal of aroma, that’s reminiscent of a lot of our other hoppy beers and aromas but that’s also sessionable, with the lower alcohol so you could have more than one or two.
“Craft beer historically has been heavier bodied beer, and heavier body means more malt, and more malt means more sugar, and more sugar means more alcohol. The idea for folks like myself who don’t necessarily drink to get drunk, you like to enjoy a couple beers and enjoy all of the things that surround sharing a beer with someone, and I feel like it’s an important part of society and it’s a big part of business and it’s a relaxant — and, in moderation, it has a very strong place in society.”
While Pinner is already on sale in liquor stores in Colorado and North Carolina, where Oskar Blues has breweries, it will be available in the 41 states in which the brewery sells beer on March 1. While recreational marijuana sales are currently legal only in Colorado and Washington, Katechis is sure beer drinkers in other states will be in on the joke.
“Whether you perceive (legalization) to be fortunate or unfortunate, it’s a part of Colorado culture for sure,” said Katechis, “and being a Colorado company, it’s alive and well here. As with alcohol, when taken in moderation there’s a reason that (pot is) legal.”