All hail The Hemperor: New Belgium Brewery launches hemp beer

New Belgium brewmasters knew they were onto something when their Fort Collins brewery smelled like somebody had a “loud bag of weed” in their pocket.

After three years of development, they’re debuting that dank brew, dubbed The Hemperor HPA, on April 2.

The “hemp pale ale” blends hemp and hops for an earthy take on the traditional India Pale Ale with a resinous nose unmistakable to anyone who has found themselves downwind of Denver’s Civic Center Park on 4/20.

For the nation’s fourth-largest craft brewery, that’s an “herbal olfactory” win.

New Belgium The Hemperor HPA hemp beer
New Belgium announces The Hemperor HPA hemp beer. (photo provided by New Belgium Brewery)

Experimental suds are commonplace in the craft beer industry (bull testicle stout, anyone?), and other hemp beers are on tap across the country.

But with the coronation of The Hemperor, New Belgium is launching a movement, not a novelty beer, brewery spokesman Bryan Simpson said.

“We actually don’t want it to be a fad or kitschy.” he said.

Hemp as a beer ingredient remains largely taboo, as federal guidelines restrict certain parts of the cannabis plant from being used as an ingredient in beer.

But New Belgium found a work-around: hemp hearts, part of the plant legalized by the 2014 Farm Bill, and a proprietary process to utilize compounds from other materials that emulate the aromatic terpenes found in hemp.

The company is also staking out an advocacy position on hemp, partnering with Willie Nelson’s company GCH Inc to support Hemp 4 Victory, an organization lobbying for federal hemp legislation.

New Belgium announces The Hemperor HPA hemp beer. (photo provided by New Belgium Brewery)
New Belgium announces The Hemperor HPA hemp beer. (photo provided by New Belgium Brewery)

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