While many cannabis consumers have been consuming their cannabis alongside beer for many years, a Portland based microbrewery, Coalition Brewing, has brought the potential for hops and cannabis to a whole new level. While Coalition has been brewing high quality, craft beer since 2010, they have most recently ventured in to the cannabis territory, sourcing CBD from industrial hemp to create an amazing CBD beer they have named Two Flowers. This beer has had several launch parties and the tap has run dry at almost every single one. I was lucky enough to be part of 2 of those launch parties, and it was thrilling not only to taste the beer, but to see all the other customers at the events enjoying themselves, and their liberty, in doing so. Both cannabis and beer aficionados appreciate this new beer with high regards!
Coalition Brewing is a 10 barrel craft brewery that was founded by Kiley Hoyt and Elan Walsky, two brewers who met by chance at a local brewers supply store. Their mission is to bring the American craft beer experience directly to the local community while consistently innovating with new and exciting styles to stimulate their customers palates. Their beers are defined by balance and brewed in the Northwest style that put American craft beer on the map. Though each style is unique, they all showcase a distinct harmony of flavor and aromatics. They use only the freshest ingredients found here in the Pacific Northwest, including hops that come directly from the Willamette and Yakima Valley. They also support local businesses and farms by sourcing specialty ingredients from local manufacturers and donating their grains for use in regional agriculture to create a positive impact within the community.
When asked about why this already successful company wanted to breach the cannabis space, Co-Founder/Owner Elan Walsky replied, "There is a natural synergy between hemp and hops, and between the craft beer and cannabis industries. Biologically speaking, hops and hemp are very closely related. Taxonomically, they are both in species Cannabecae, with separate genus Humulus (hops), and Cannabis (hemp). They share many genetic similarities, which in practical terms mean that both plants produce many of the same terpenes, or flavor and aromatic compounds. A common tasting note for IPAs is to describe them as smelling and tasting like cannabis, which is no surprise given their shared terpene profiles. In addition, alpha-acid, the bittering component of hops, is actually a cannabinoid...though it is not psychoactive, it is closely similar in structure to both CBD and THC, all of which are derived from a precursor molecule called isoprene."
Phil Boyle, who is the Regional Beer Ambassador for Coalition Brewing explained, "Coalition has been interested in creating a CBD beer for quite some time now. After recently hearing the TTB had granted both formula and label approval to a brewery in Colorado for a CBD beer (theoretically allowing it to be distributed nationwide), we knew we had to get it rolling. As chance would have it, Coalition Brewing was invited to an incredible CannaSociety Soiree hosted by Cascade High and Prism House PDX. While attending this very special industry event featuring an infused gourmet dinner with several courses, we found ourselves being introduced to some of the top industry leaders in the local Cannabis world. This opportunity and connection allowed us to begin the creation of a true "Canna" beer," and added, "Coalition is excited that beer once again is giving us the opportunity and the platform to break down barriers and create new and exciting products for people to enjoy."
Bill Stewart is a chemical engineer and owner of Half Baked Labs. Bill was a connection that Coalition Brewing made at the Soiree. Walsky explained that Bill was vital in educating their brewing team in the various forms and usage of hemp products. In addition to helping illuminate some of the biological similarities between hops and cannabis, such as their shared terpene profiles, Bill assisted them in the early flavor development of Two Flowers. They used Cascade and Centennial hops, both renowned for their citrus qualities, in an attempt to mirror the terpene profile common in many strains of hemp.
The overall reception of Two Flowers has been amazing, and everyone who I know personally who has tried it (self included) loves it! Boyle told me that Two Flowers started moving quite quickly since its first day on tap in December of 2016, and the brewery has been alive with phone calls from folks wanting to know where they can find the beer.
"It seems we have even piqued the interest of those that are not usually beer drinkers and many that are trying CBD beer for their first time. They express their love for this new and unique beer and their excitement to learn more about the close relationship between “Two Flowers” hops and the Cannabis plant. Coalition has been holding several events around town to educate all those interested in the various aspects of Two Flowers and just CBD in general. Education is key to dispel misinformation and overall make people more comfortable and informed about CBD and Beer, " Boyle said.
When asked about the future for Two Flowers or about other CBD beer projects, Co-Founder/Owner Kiley Hoyt replied, "Ultimately, we'd like to make this project a series of beers, encompassing different styles and recipes such as sours, saisons, porters, etc. There are so many unique flavor profiles to play with in this space, so the possibilities are endless. We are working experts in the industry to source unique products and terpene profiles. At some point, we'd do some very direct strain and terpene matching of specific hops and varieties and of hemp."
She added, "Coalition Brewing is always seeking to innovate with new and unique beers for our customers. In addition to developing new ways to tie together hemp and beer, this summer we'll be releasing some tasty new sour beers, along with a sea salt and lime kolsch that you can find at this year's Oregon Brewer's Festival. You can also look forward to several exciting collaboration projects with other local breweries and businesses. We look forward to breaking down some of the barriers and elevating both the craft beer and cannabis industries."