Best Buds: How the Brewing Industry is Tapping into the Cannabis Market

Best Buds: How the Brewing Industry is Tapping into the Cannabis Market
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BUY THE BOOK HERE. Ross Koenigs’s journey into cannabis happened somewhat by chance. Hemp researchers connected to Colorado State University visited the New Belgium taproom on an unremarkable afternoon in April 2015 and asked to speak to Koenigs’s boss, Peter Bouckaert. The U.S. Congress had just legalized hemp cultivation for research purposes under the 2014 Agricultural Act, and many in Colorado jumped at the opportunity to study this newly legalized plant. The researchers wanted to show Peter some of their plants, saying that they had many distinct aromas that might be of interest to brewers. Bouckaert, famous for his curiosity and penchant for novel brewing ingredients, got excited. He grabbed a few staff members, piled them into his car, and drove to the south end of Fort Collins to visit the greenhouses of a company now known as New West Genetics. When Koenigs first smelled the different plants, he didn’t really get it. He didn’t really understand much about hemp at the time, but he did know one critical thing: It’s related to marijuana but doesn’t get you high. The plants looked similar to marijuana and most of them had nice aromas, though some smelled quite awful. It wasn’t until Koenigs dug a bit deeper that the light really clicked on for him. Koenigs had too many preconceived thoughts about cannabis. He figured it would be a cold day in hell before the government allowed brewers to put THC in beer, so exploring options in hemp would be a wasted effort—there was nothing interesting in cannabis if it didn’t have THC. Koenigs fell prey to what a lot of people think about cannabis: It’s a plant that can get you high and nothing more. He’s pretty sure he remembers saying something to the effect of, “Why would he put fake…

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