Contrary to its name, Hempin’ Ain’t Easy is One World Brewing’s easiest entry point for craft beer virgins. “We have a lot of hoppy beers and a lot of really flavorful craft beers,” says co-owner Lisa Schutz. “Hempin’ is our go-to for people who come in and say, ‘I don’t have a lot of experience with craft beer.’ Hempin’ is kind of pilsneresque, a really light beer.”
Less filling, but how does it taste? “It has more of a nutty taste because of the hemp,” Schutz explains. “A lot of the other hemp beers put terpenes in that make it really taste and smell like marijuana. We don’t do that, so it’s really clean. It has become a staple as our lighter, easier, day-drinking beer.”
On the other hand, New Belgium Brewing Co.’s hemp beer, The Hemperor, has an aroma that would be right at home on Willie Nelson’s tour bus, which is a significant part of its appeal and New Belgium’s intent. When research and development brewer Ross Koenigs walked into his first hemp greenhouse, he knew the company would make a beer that highlighted the plant’s distinct qualities.
“Most of the commercial hemp beers [already] out there tasted like regular beers,” Koenigs says. “I’m fairly confident we were the first brewery to explore hemp flavor in beer that gave the drinking public an accurate representation.”
Wedge Brewing Co. was the first local brewery on the hemp wagon, releasing batches of Derailed Hemp Ale annually since 2009, usually on April 20. The hemp-happy date was also perfect timing for last month’s debut at Bhramari Brewing Co. of Asheville’s latest hemp entry, Franny’s Farmhouse Ale, brewed in collaboration with Franny’s Farmacy, Listermann Brewing Co. and White Labs Asheville.
And it came in just under the wire of the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s decision to put a hold on approving new hemp or CBD beers. “I think it’s because they don’t want it to get out of control,” says Schutz. “It’s easier to just say no.”