Hopped Up: Hemperor HPA By New Belgium Brewing


As we reported last month, the Everett-based Down The Road Beer Co. ran into trouble in its attempt to produce CBD-infused hemp beer. But while the state put a temporary stop to DTR’s hopes on the CBD front, those who look hard enough can at least find CBD-free hemp suds, starting with the new Hemperor HPA by New Belgium, makers of eternal fave Fat Tire ale.


Promising a “mystical marriage of hops and hemp,” Ross Koenigs, New Belgium’s head of research and development, told reporters, “Brewers have been trying to get cannabis-like aromas from hops for years, but it’s always missing a certain something,” boldly claiming, “the Hemperor HPA is possibly the first beer to deliver meaningful hemp flavors and aromas.”


For the beer (and cannabis) geeks, Koenigs got into the weeds about the process:


The Hemperor HPA showcases the game-changing union of hops and hemp, plants genetically related that produce similar organic aromatic compounds known as terpenes. This ale is brewed with hemp hearts (the meat of the seed, minus the shell) and dry-hopped with Simcoe and experimental HBC 522 hops to create a dank, pungent hop aroma balanced by a sweet, mildly bitter finish.


As for the legality of their project, Koenigs continued: “Federal law prohibits brewers from using hemp leaf and flower, so New Belgium brewers found a creative solution using other natural plant materials that perfectly emulate those hemp terpenes. The Hemperor HPA contains no THC or CBD.


“This beer has been over two years in the making, most of the time spent learning and reacting to laws that really suppress this crop’s usage.


“Flavor-wise, this is the beer we wanted to make, but due to misinformed laws governing the use of industrial hemp, we had to take a creative and long-winding road to get to this point.”


Hopefully some Massachusetts brewers follow suit.


The Hemperor HPA is available on draft starting this month, with 12 oz. bottles arriving in stores on May 21. There will be a release party at Cagney’s in Quincy on April 27, the Independent in Somerville on April 18, and Christopher’s in Cambridge on May 23.