Why IPAs Smell Like Weed

Have you ever popped open a particularly hoppy brew and smelled something herbal and comfortingly familiar? Did that pungent, greenish aroma bring you back to the days of Pink Floyd and crying while listening to Pink Floyd because you were so wonderfully overwhelmed with what you perceived to be its intellectual and sonic depth? Chances are that you have, and it did.

These days, super hoppy beers are more popular than Kimye and whatever their kids are named. IPAs and Double IPAs (DIPAs, baby!) have taken the market by storm, for better or worse. As more and more drinkers come down with hopmania, more and more drinkers are starting to notice something: IPAs kind of smell like weed.

So your beer smells like pot, the sticky icky, the devil’s lettuce, the goody good, dat bubonic chronic. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? What does it all mean?

If you like the smell of marijuana, it’s a good thing. If you don’t, you’ve got a bummer on your hands. Super hoppy beers and that cannabis aroma are pretty much inseparable past a certain point. That’s because strong IPAs are necessarily hoppy, and hops are the key to understanding why certain beers smell so… weedy.

So what the hell are hops? Humulus lupus is an insanely hearty plant (often called “the wolf of the willows”) that grows in long cascading vines all across the globe. On these vines are flowers, blossoms or better yet, buds. Inside of these buds are oils and resins that, when boiled into beer, provide bitterness, astringency and aroma. “Hoppiness” (now a synonym for bitter and dry) is what makes an IPA an IPA. Hoppiness is also what makes that beer smell like the tye-dye shirt your hippie uncle tried to bury in the hamper.

That’s because hops and marijuana are genetically related. Yes that’s right, plants can have cousins too. Be it by divine intervention or just dumb luck, weed’s close relative just happens to be one of the four glorious ingredients to beer. In fact, hop buds look so much like weed that you could totally sell them to a teenager of average or even exceptional intelligence.

In summation, the hoppier the beer, the more likely you are to pick up on that cannabis scent. Family ties, everybody.

So…can you smoke hops too? You’ll have to find that one out on your own. (Don’t do it.)




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