Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Suds and Buds


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A little tiff is sprouting between the folks at Humboldt Made and the Humboldt Brewing Co. (see Thadeus Greenson's blog post here). Seems the local group dedicated to branding Humboldt's wholesome (read: junk food) exports doesn't like the fact that a corporate mega-brewer from South Carolina is shilling its recently purchased Humboldt Brewing Co. Hemp Ale with a crafty and energetic marketing scheme that resembles what would happen if you layered the phrase "duuuuude" with several Instagram filters.

With slogans like "The gateway craft beer" and pot leaves everywhere, it's pretty clear Humboldt Brewing Co. is not trying to evoke feelings of Humboldt County, Nev. The label's geology, though, is dubious, featuring a snow-capped peak and verdant meadow scene that looks more like the Sierra Nevada than anywhere on the North Coast.

Weed is clearly part of Humboldt Brewing's polished and virulent marketing strategy — weed emblems and innuendo galore adorn the company's social media profiles, along with links about snacks, football, cute animals and other things stoners adore. Humboldt Brewing's marketing gurus even translated the company's informative website into stoner-friendly weedspeak. From the FAQs about Hemp Ale (which is brewed with toasted hemp seeds and contains no THC):

Q. So it won't get me stoned?

A. No way, brah — you'll only get high on flavah. And maybe a little buzzed, but that's just from the alcohol.

Humboldt Brewing may be trying to cash in on weed cachet, but it's being careful to leave ganja leaves off the packaging. (The pint glasses featured in their Instagram marketing account? Not so much.) Local beer buyers have likely seen Lagunitas' Censored Copper Ale, which got its name after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms took umbrage with the brew's original label: Kronik.

"They claimed the word had some sort of marijuana reference," reads the Lagunitas website. "We slapped a 'Censored' sticker on it as a joke and they accepted it. Whatever."

Nonetheless, plenty of breweries get away with weedy references, including Humboldt's own Indica IPA, brewed by Lost Coast Brewery. Others beer names include 420 Extra Pale Ale, Fresh Sticky Nugs and Wake 'N' Bake, so yeah, the ATF is clearly up on its weed references. But until the agency turns around its stance on marijuana, don't count on tasting anything more than hemp seeds in your brews.


Neuroscientists identified one possible explanation for pot-induced munchies in a study published last weekend: THC triggers the brain's "olfactory bulb," (new band name?) essentially making food more appealing. A report in the Smithsonian detailed the study, saying "a big part of the reason why you might eat more food after using marijuana ... is simply that you can smell and taste it more acutely."

Can you smell the irony through the haze? A Houston man who dressed up as drug educatin', trenchcoat wearin' McGruff the Crime Dog for the Harris County Sheriff's Association in the '90s was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison after being found with a 1,000-plant marijuana garden and a small arsenal that included grenade launchers.


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