Fellow brewmasters! I have a curious question for you. A friend of mine tried to convince me that the beer high is not entirely caused by alcohol. In particular, his theory is that since hops and cannabis share the same family, they contain a small amount of cannabinols. Does this sound familiar to you?

The Humulus lupulus page on Wikipedia doesn't mention this fact, so I am trying to find out if this is true.

Thank you,

  • Why is the burden of proof on us for these types of questions? – brewchez Aug 30 '11 at 12:37
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    The nature of this questiuon makes me think it belongs on skeptics.stackexchange.com -- now onto the real question: what happens if I shoot-up LME? A buddy swears it actually black-tar heroin ;-) – STW Aug 30 '11 at 14:07
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    "Burden of proof?" he asked a question... – Dustin Rasener Aug 30 '11 at 18:33
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    @brewchez: I am sorry man, I didn't intend to put a burden on you, just asking. That's the point of a Q&A site, isn't it? – tunnuz Aug 31 '11 at 8:09
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    No, I don't think it does. I boiled a quart of beer down to a sticky syrup and applied between some rolled sheets of paper. It didn't want to light, so I made some cookies from it. 2 hours later - nothing. Never mind, I can go back to snorting nutmeg. – mdma Aug 31 '11 at 22:12

While they do contain some of the same aroma chemicals (Myrcene, Humulene, etc.), I believe* that they diverged long enough ago to be completely different plants with completely different chemical profiles. Hops pretty obviously doesn't contain anything that breaks down to what drug tests check for, just based on the lack of people losing jobs and "breaking" parole for drinking some beer.

Your friend may be thinking of the effects of 2-Methyl-2-butanol, which is what gives Hops their sedative properties.

*I am not a biologitician.

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    Great use of "biologist" and "politician" in the same word! :) – Max Aug 29 '11 at 13:24
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    actually, it's a paraphrase/reference to a simpsons episode that mentions a "scientician". – baka Aug 29 '11 at 22:02

I once had a glass of 300 IBU IPA a friend made. (The beer looked green coming through the tap lines, and he lost 2 gallons of wort to the hop sludge before fermentation)

After my face returned to normal upon consuming about 6oz of this beer, I in fact, did NOT have a craving for Cheetos or Funions. Also, I did NOT start excessively using the word "Dude!" or demand that everyone hold hands for world peace. I observed a few people who drank several glasses of this hop juice, and NONE of them exhibited the above behavior as well.

Based on this incredibly scientific experiment, I am going to have to reject your friends hypothesis.

And as a skeptic, let me just say that barring my own experiences consuming lots of hoppy beer, that the theory is "too good to be true" anyway. Hops at the retail level are around $1-3 per ounce. If there was ANY high to be had from consuming them, then the home brew shops in this county would have lines of Dead Heads out their doors every day. Your friend needs to use some critical thinking.


"In the same family" is a LONG way from "have the same effect". Your friend must have been smoking something other than hops.

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