From the HBD Archive
From: hplabs!utah-cs!cs.utexas.edu!raven!rcd (Dick Dunn)
Subject: herbs in beer
Date: 1989-06-09 13:51:24 GMT

Erik Henchal wrote:
> Excuss me a minute, while I flame. 1) Hops and that other herb
> to which you are referring, besides being plants, are not
> related...

Look, we're all mature adults, right? Let's go ahead and use the M-word
if that's what we mean...although that first posting speaking of a
"narcotic plant" without identifying it did leave me with the same bizarre
vision as someone else, namely grafting poppies onto hops! I think of the
plants in my back yard and imagine a 20-foot vine with buds the size of
kiwi fruit hanging off it, blossoming into saucer-sized flowers...quite a
vision! But I digress...

How did the rumor get started that you could graft marijuana onto hops,
anyway? Just looking at a hop vine, it seems like a very unusual candi-
date--a perennial vine which insists on vine-like curling and climbing,
leaves coming off in pairs, etc. My field (sic) is far from biology, so
things like plant classifications occasionally surprise me (e.g., that
cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower are all the same
species) but I've never been able to buy the grafting idea. Has anyone
actually *seen* one? (I don't mean "talked to someone who's seen one.")
I know there are variations of the rumor...I remember college roommates
trying to smoke hops! (Bleagh.) Anyone have real biological info? I have
no interest in marijuana vines or THC in beer, but I am interested in beer-
related folklore and this bit has been around a long time.

The term "hophead" used to mean "drug addict". I don't know how/where that
started either (it's decades old at least), but it could have generated
the grafting legend.

>...2) Why would you put anything in beer or encourage
> others to use ingredients which contribute negatively to the
> flavor and natural aroma of beer?...

A fair question, but irrelevant...the original posting addressed the idea
of modifying the overall experience. It's not as if it's inherently un-
reasonable; other herbs are added to beer, such as woodruff (at serving) in
a weisse, or cardamom in Hoegaarden White. I do think it would be perverse
to persevere if you found it adding off flavors to the beer. (Sort of like
trying to make a pizza-flavored beer...eventually you figure out that you
can just have a pizza alongside the beer instead of in it.)

>...3)If you want to use drugs, go
> ahead. But if you want to brew REAL beer, use only hops, malt,
> water and yeast.

Now hold on here...

Objection #1: Beer IS a drug, and don't ever go believing it isn't! This
is not the place to discuss pro- or anti-drug stances. Let's just note
that alcohol is legal; marijuana is not (in the US), and therefore we
should steer clear of advocating its use to avoid any hint of possible
problems for the mailing list.

Objection #2: I'm not having any of this "REAL beer" purist nonsense.
I've added honey, cinnamon, ginger, cherries, and raspberries to my beers
(not all the same batch!:-) to make particular specialties, and they were
no less beer for the substances added. I don't have to pass Reinheits-
gebot to have a good beer. One of the reasons a lot of us brew is just to
be able to make unusual beers we can't buy...and that may mean unusual
ingredients other than the Holy Three.
---
Dick Dunn {ncar;ico;stcvax}!raven!rcd (303)494-0965
or rcd@raven.uucp

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