Tribute to Plants: My Favorite Drug

It’s 4/20, and you all know what that means; it’s the annual holiday for marijuana lovers everywhere. While potheads throughout country indulge in their favorite drug, I am doing the same with my favorite – lupulin, the powder separated from the Humulus lupulus (hops) plant.

It’s not a total change of subject. After all, hops are a close cousin of the Cannabis plant. Hops don’t contain THC (but Lupulin is chemically related to THC).

So, as you enjoy your (legal) drug of choice, find out a little bit more about hops and beer (aka the two loves of my life).

BEER IS GREAT. HOPS ARE GREATER.

Beer is composed of four main ingredients: water, yeast, grain (e.g. malted barley), and hops. Hops come from the female plant (way to go ladies!) and are the flowers (aka seed cones or just cones) of the hop bine (not vine! Bines use shoots to climb, while vines use tendrils.).

While most people associate hops with beer’s bitterness, they also add aroma to your beer. There are roughly 170 varieties of hops and counting, each with different qualities that help contribute to different styles of beer. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but the three most common hops are cascade, centennial, and chinook (read about the Three C’s here).

Hops contain alpha acids (among other less important ingredients). IBU’s (International Bitterness Units), are a measurement of the alpha acid isohumulone. Lupulin glands on the hop cones hold these compounds and others that eventually contribute flavor and bitterness to beers.

I can go on and on talking about growing and harvesting hops for beer (feel freer than free to ask me more), but there’s also a healing (medicinal?) power of hops that y’all should know about.

MY DEFINITION OF PARADISE

What’s better than sipping a bottle of beer after a long, hard day’s work? How about sipping that beer while sitting in a tub full of that brew?

Hop in the Spa, the first beer spa in America, takes advantage of the medicinal properties of hops. Located in Sisters, Oregon, co-founder Mike Boyle partnered with Deschutes Brewing to develop a brew bath using beer, fresh hops, essential oils, and some minerals based off of similar beer baths in Europe. Boyle works along with Deschutes Brewery in Oregon, arguably one of the founders of the craft beer movement

Using a 55-gallon barrel, Hop in the Spa brews together mainly Cascade hops, barely, and minerals. Once finished, the minerals are steeped out and pumped into a cedar-lined tub, where they add whole hops, essential oils, more trace minerals, and two liters of the brew to the beer. Apparently, you can soak in the beer of your choice- Deschutes Mirror Pond ale, Black Butte porter, Red Chair northwest pale ale, or Deschutes seasonal beer.

By now, you should have finished your substance of choice. Thanks for playing. Feel free to comment and let us know your favorite substance. Chances are it comes from a plant.

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