Hemp is a hot topic right now. Minneapolis’ first CBD store, Stigma Hemp, opened this spring in North Loop (with public support from Mayor Jacob Frey, no less); Cosmic Bean Dispensary in Dinkytown has been serving CBD oil-infused energy and coffee drinks since last fall; and now Finnegans Brew Co. has joined in on the trend with its hemp oil pale ale, Kicked to the Herb, available to the public this weekend.
Finnegans—a specific benefit corporation, founded locally by Jacquie Berglund, that donates 100% of profits to charity—has grown significantly in the past year. It opened its beautiful four-story taproom, production facility, brewer’s den, and Finnovation Lab in downtown Minneapolis, and grew from brewing two different beers to more than a dozen. For head brewer Ryan Mihm, the recent growth of Finnegans is part of the reason he was so excited to produce Minnesota’s first CBD-infused beer—it’s fun to be the pioneer of something so new.
And before you go looking up the effects of hemp beer—no, it’s not going to get you high. CBD (or cannabidiol) is not a hallucinogen and is actually known for its potential healing properties that include reducing pain, relieving anxiety, and even helping avoid insomnia. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive agent found in cannabis, and due to legality, it has no place in the U.S. beer scene as of yet. In general, hops and hemp are considered “cousins,” and using hemp in the brewing process opens up a whole new world of flavors and combinations for brewers to explore.
Kicked to the Herb (5.5% ABV, IBU 50) is brewed in partnership with NJ Farms, a Midwest hemp farm located in Wisconsin, and each pint contains 13 mg of CBD. It’s brewed with Citra and Chinook hops, which brings out more of the hemp oil character in the beer. At first taste, you’ll get high-citrus, tropical notes; the piney, earthy undertones linger a bit longer. And considering how dank and hoppy the ale could have been, its drinkability is a pleasant surprise.
If nothing else, the beer has served as a great talking point for influential figures as Minnesota’s laws, rules, and regulations for CBD continue to develop. In fact, Finnegans tapped the first keg of Kicked to the Herb this week for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Program, which hosted a conference with regulators from all 50 states.
As for availability, there’s strict legal proceedings and application processes in the U.S. if a brewery wants its hemp-infused beverages to cross state lines, so Finnegans won’t be filling growlers of Kicked to the Herb or putting it into liquor stores just yet. In general, Finnegans is treating this like a trial run to see how people react and what kind of demand there is. And when it comes down to it, Mihm has a happy-go-lucky approach to it. “People like hanging out and drinking beer,” he says—whether it’s CBD-infused or not.
Summer Solstice Party @ Finnegans Brew Co., 817 S. Fifth Ave., Minneapolis, on Friday, June 21 from 3 to 8 p.m. with Kicked to the Herb release, food trucks, live music, and more.