Finnegans Brew Co. just made history by making the first Minnesota beer brewed with hemp oil.
The downtown Minneapolis brewery, which had previously distinguished itself from the crowd by donating 100% of its profits to charities fighting hunger, has now chosen to make its mark by throwing itself under the slow-rolling hemp legalization bus—starting with one very tasty, small-batch beer.
Finnegans' pale ale, called Kicked to the Herb, weighs in at 5.5% ABV and contains 13mg of CBD. It's unique among other other Minnesota beers incorporating hemp products in that it’s brewed with full spectrum hemp oil, not hemp seeds. (If making beer out of oil and water sounds tricky, you’re not wrong; the precise science of how the hemp oil was clarified into just a handful of mason jars resembling young coconut water, ready for brewing, went over my head.)
Though at first it may seem Finnegans is hopping on the CBD-is-hot-let’s-put-it-in-everything train, it quickly became apparent they were opening themselves up to be the sacrificial lamb in the quiet battle raging to legalize hemp, in all its myriad uses.
The release of Kicked to the Herb “coincided” with a conference Minneapolis hosted from June 18-20, wherein regulators from all 50 states’ Departments of Agriculture would be present. At this preview event, we were cheek-to-jowl with those folks charged with deciding how, on a state-by-state level, hemp would or would not be embraced for gastronomic, brewing, and cultivating purposes.
“Was that intentional?” we asked head brewer Ryan Mihm.
“Kinda. I had a three-day window to make it work, and [Finnegans founder] Jacquie Berglund got on the phone to NJ Farms.” When the day in question rolled around, Mihm had what he needed to make the proto-beer happen in time to coincide with the regulators’ arrival. The rest, as the say, is Minnesota brewing history.
Mihm made no attempt to sidestep my assertion he’d made a placebo beer, and quickly acknowledged Kicked to the Herb’s limits, “It’s not about health. It’s about flavor,” he said, splitting that hair between hemp and it’s only sorta-bad brother medicinal marijuana.
With only 13 mg of CBD per pint, in comparison to significantly higher doses in the average products available to consumers on the market, basically you’d end up drunk long before you felt any bodily effects from the CBD.
In short: It’s no more of a “nap juice” than any other craft beer. Few beers, however, have its pedigree of proving a point to The Man in such style.
Pairing recommendations include Pecker, Spaceballs, and Role Models.
The general public can enjoy the dregs left by state regulators starting at 3 p.m. this afternoon. Head to Finnegans’ patio for their Summer Solstice party. Live music by The Mediocritones will accompany from 4-7 p.m.