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High-neken Brew: We Taste-Tested Lagunitas' Hi-Fi Hops - August 1, 2018 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

High-neken Brew: We Taste-Tested Lagunitas’ Hi-Fi Hops

Beer and weed don’t go together — not legally, at least. California cannabis laws are extremely strict on two points: Marijuana cannot be infused into an alcoholic beverage, and booze can never be served at “smoke lounges” that permit marijuana consumption.

But Lagunitas Brewing Company has been pushing the legal limit for more than 25 years. Its THC-infused beverage Hi-Fi Hops just debuted as an alcohol-free faux beer that gets you high — no smoking required.

Heineken bought the Sonoma craft brewery in 2017, but it’s always maintained a stoner profile. Police famously raided Lagunitas over its weekly 4:20 parties back in 2005, and its alcohol license was suspended for onsite marijuana smoking.

There’s nothing illegal about Hi-Fi Hops, but it can only be sold in single cans and at licensed dispensaries. This “hoppy sparking water” comes in two different versions, a 10-milligram THC brew and a CBD hybrid version that contains 5 milligrams of both active ingredients.

SF Weekly tried the hybrid with both THC and CBD. We found the relaxing CBD effects hit more quickly than the alcohol buzz of a normal beer, and a loopy THC head buzz kicked in separately some 30 minutes later. The marijuana in this mix is from AbsoluteXtracts, a Sonoma craft cannabis manufacturer with a well-respected line of vape pens.

This hops drink is indeed intoxicating, but it’s a non-alcoholic non-beer dressed in beer’s clothing. Hi-Fi Hops has more of a club soda or tonic water flavor that does not even attempt to mimic beer. Craft beer enthusiasts can argue points on the hop flavoring, but to a microbrew muggle, this drink just tastes like a carbonated cocktail mixer.

Hi-Fi Hops is more of a canned cocktail than a cold beer. Pouring it does not generate much head, its bubbles and fizz disappear quickly, and it has few technical qualities that will impress beer snobs.

But yeah, one can gets you noticeably (though not significantly) high.

Despite its faint resemblance to an actual beer, Hi-Fi Hops will still generate curiosity and demand simply because it bears the Lagunitas name. It’s only sold in single cans, but you may want to cobble a six-pack together to impress certain craft beer or cannabis-loving guests.

Potency: 10 milligrams may sound like microdose territory, but AbsoluteXtracts produces oils that routinely outperform their milligram count. One can is a very good, although not epic, high.

Smell: A lemony scent more characteristic of a fruit soda, but without the artificial sweeteners.

Taste: Imagine an even more bitter version of tonic water, but with much more powerful intoxicating effects.

Appearance: Opaque and off-green, like old-school mixers Squirt and 50/50.

Medical Application: Capturing the interest of friends and guests who dig cannabis or craft beer.

Effect: People will be curious to try it because of the Lagunitas name, and its modest 10 mg kick makes for a controlled buzz. There are stronger infused beverages out there, but none has the name or appeal of Lagunitas.

Check lagunitas.com/hifihops for availability