The spring season brings new brews from across the state. One special holiday that brewers from all over seem to celebrate is 4/20, a day when the special aroma and flavor from dank beers reflect the unique characteristics of marijuana, cannabis, the devils lettuce or the more common term, weed.
So just what constitutes a dank beer? According to Seth Rivard, co-owner of Rockford Brewing, “I like to think of dank as extra pungent, extra stanky, extra resinous, extra smells and flavors from the oils in the hop, going above and beyond your typical hop flavor.”
We compiled a list of some of the dankest beers in Michigan, as well as a few brews who’s names were inspired by something to do with the 4/20 holiday.
So what is it about beer that aligns so closely with cannabis?
“If you’re a hop fan, you already know that Humulus Lupulus (hops) and Cannabis Sativa (cannabis) are close cousins that reside in the Cannabaceae family,” said Brian Tennis, owner of Michigan Hop Alliance. “They share aromatic compounds called terpenes, which is why a lot of a resinous IPAs smell like good herb.”
To be clear, none of these beers contain any THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBD (cannabidiol). They just derive these cannabis characteristics from the natural flavors of hops.
“Hops are generally considered non psychoactive, but during hop harvest, it is not uncommon to feel slightly baked working that closely with so much plant material,” Tennis said.
Tennis, who owns Michigan Hop Alliance, which not only grows and harvests Michigan hops, but also distributes hops from all over the U.S. and the world, explained which varietals are the most similar to cannabis in aroma and flavor. “Some of the hops that we grow in Michigan that closely resemble the aromatics of good old chronic include Columbus, Comet, Zeus, and an exclusive proprietary hop called Summit™,” he said. “Other hops that are not grown in Michigan, but that we carry and deserve honorable mention include Apollo™, Simcoe™, and Strata™.”
For many breweries, and especially now that marijuana is legal in Michigan, 4/20 is another reason to celebrate great Michigan beer.
“The 420 number is beyond just a modern day meme, it’s practically a culture of its own,” said Seth Rockwell, co-owner of Rockford Brewing Company. “I remember it in the mid 90′s as being synonymous with ‘getting away with fun’ and two decades later it still seems to be holding its own, even after weed has become mostly legal and less controversial.”
RELATED: Sip these spring beers from all over Michigan
RELATED: Marijuana is legal in Michigan, here are 25 of Michigan’s Best munchies
Rockford Brewing Company-Fuzzy Nuggs, One Hitter Wonder
Our friends at Rockford Brewing will have two different beers to enjoy on 4/20.
Fuzzy Nuggs is a pale ale brewed with 100% Michigan grown Nugget hops, with notes of resin, grass, and herbs. It is on tap at the brewery now.
A secret, special release will happen on April 20. According to RBC co-owner Jeff Sheehan, they’ll have “One Hitter Wonder” on tap. “It will get kegged the morning of 4/20. It’s a 6% ABV IPA brewed with Simcoe and Strata hops.” Sheehan described the beer as “many layers of different fruit flavor, dried and fresh, anchored with a dried chili-cannabis-funk.”
The brewery, which is located just off the White Pine Trail north of Grand Rapids, is well known for their from scratch kitchen. For 4/20 they’ll also be offering some “dank food specials” all week long.
Rockford Brewing Company
12 E Bridge St NE
Rockford, MI 49341
RELATED: March’s Beer of the Month is a Michigan stout
Loaded Dice Brewery-Dank Vegas
Loaded Dice will be releasing their New England style IPA Dank Vegas on Tuesday April 20, at both their taproom in Troy, and during a special tap takeover at Steampunk Taproom the same day. According to owner Jef Smith, the beer is a New England Style IPA with Comet, Strata and Mosaic hops. Strata is the star with this beer. The flavor and aroma has been described as ‘passion fruit meets pot’ and will hit you with melon, mango and citrus along with dank herbal notes of cannabis.”
Loaded Dice Brewery
1725 Rochester Rd
Troy, MI 48083
7722 Auburn Rd
Utica, MI 48317
RELATED: It’s all aces at Loaded Dice, a new Michigan brewery
Short’s Brewing Company- Treefer Madness and Psychedelic Cat Grass
Short’s describes this American IPA as a “liquid light up”, and you’ll find it in bottles out in distribution. According to the brewery, “Treefer Madness is legal in all 50 states but you might not believe it upon first smell. Columbus, Amarillo, Mosaic, Calypso, and Idaho 7 hops give your nose all kinds of green wonder like pine, grapefruit, guava, and fresh cut flowers. This beer pours a touch hazy and orange with a big beautiful white head. Everything your nose experienced will find its way to your mouth, like liquid bud for your taste buds, no need for eye drops.”
According to Short’s, Psychedelic Cat Grass “is a triple dry-hopped American India Pale Ale originally brewed for our favorite beer bar. Aromas of pineapple, mango, and grapefruit accompany the brews slightly hazy, pale orange color and lasting white head. A dry finish is preceded by balanced flavors of tropical fruit and bitter hops. Most notably associated with our #WithoutDelayIPA project, where the beer is packaged, delivered, and served within 24 hours. Due to the awesomeness of this product—Psychedelic Cat Grass has been promoted to seasonal release where it will be available in bottles, cans, and on draft throughout the spring.”
Short’s Brewing Company
121 N Bridge St
Bellaire, MI 49615
211 Industrial Park Drive
Elk Rapids, MI 49629
RELATED: Beer of the Week comes in a variety pack from Short’s
Stormcloud Brewing-31 Planes
Named after a Buddhist idea that there are thirty one planes or realms that one can reborn to, 31 Planes is a seasonal favorite at Stormcloud. This imperial IPA is big, bold, and delicious. Stormcloud Brewing was our pick for Michigan’s Best New Brewery back in 2016. You can read more about Stormcloud Brewing here.
303 Main St
Frankfort, MI 49635
RELATED: Michigan’s Best Beer of the Week: It’s a Rainmaker
Presidential Brewing Company-I Did Not Inhale
According to Presidential Brewing: Sitting at 7.4% ABV, I Did Not Inhale is a double IPA that boasts a pile of hops including a custom blend called Sticky Fingers, Galaxy, Cascade, and MI Chinook. The combination results in an apricot-forward bouquet of stone fruit, with just a hint of dank to remind you that presidents also know how to party.
Presidential Brewing Company
8302 Portage Rd
Portage, MI 49002
Right Brain Brewing-Concrete Dinosaur
Check out Right Brain owner Russell Springsteen in the video above discussing his beer Concrete Dinosaur. The beer is a brown rye IPA, and Springsteen says he isn’t quite sure why it’s got such a dank profile, but in his words, “for some reason, this is a fun beer. It smells like weed, and tastes like fresh green bud.”
Concrete Dinosaur won a Silver Medal for Best Rye Beer at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.
Right Brain Brewing
225 E Sixteenth St
Traverse City, MI 49684
RELATED: Beer of the week is a sessionable IPA that can hang with the big guys
Batch Brewing Company-Asleep in the Trees
Asleep in the Trees is an IPA from Batch Brewing that will be released on April 20. This one is truly a dank little monster, with four different hop varietals showcased, including Amarillo, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Ecuanot. The beer is also brewed with hop hash, and hemp protein, for flavor and aroma, but no THC.
We’ve been fans of Batch for a while now, ever since we named them one of Michigan’s Best New Breweries back in 2016. The brewery, located in the Corktown neighborhood in Detroit, won the Hatch Detroit contest in 2013, receiving a $50,000 grant to open a brick and mortar business in the city of Detroit, which they did in 2015. They now have a full kitchen that serves scratch made food, a large outdoor pavilion known as Fauci Field, and beers available on draft and in cans.
Batch Brewing Company
1400 Porter St
Detroit, MI 48216
More info: https://www.batchbrewingcompany.com/ or Facebook
RELATED: This Detroit brewery asks you to pay what you can, as they pay it forward
Rare Bird- Kushy Punch
Rare Bird, a fun little pub located in Traverse City, offers both their own brews and beers from lots of other places as well. They typically have about six of their own brews, and over 30 taps featuring beers from Michigan, and elsewhere.
Their signature brew is Kushy Punch, which according to the brewery “is a delicious brew with a huge hop finish that will punch your taste buds. Equinox, Citra, Galaxy and Mosaic hops give it some dank flavors.”
Rare Bird Brewpub
229 Lake Ave
Traverse City, MI 49684
Latitude 42-Party at the Moon Tower
Inspired by a quote from the stoner friendly movie “Dazed and Confused”, Party at the Moon Tower comes in big and bold. A double IPA, with a warming 8.4% ABV.
We’ll leave you with the best thing to say about this beer: alright, alright, alright.
7842 Portage Rd
Portage, MI 49002
6101 W Main St
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Grand Armory Brewing Company-Session 4.20
This lighter session IPA is brewed with Mosaic, Citra, Cascade and Centennial hops, and comes in at a nicely balanced 42 IBU’s, and just 4.2% ABV. Grand Armory encourages you to “drink it with a bud”. The beer is a yearly spring release from Grand Armory, and you’ll find it in distribution around the state.
Grand Armory Brewing Company
17 S 2nd St
Grand Haven, MI 49417
Odd Side Ales-the Dank series
Odd Side Ales brews up a whole series of dank beer, including Dank Juice, their original brew in this lineup. They have a several Dank Juices that come with fruit, like Passion Fruit, Tangerine, and Pink Guava, and several single hopped versions, like Simcoe Dank. There’s a Dank Junior, which is a lighter session IPA.
The brewery recently rereleased their Mango Peach Dank Juice, which according to Odd Side’s Head of Sales Wes Oleary “is a New England Style IPA that is double dry hopped and hits you with an extra juicy profile with the addition of the fruit. It is the best selling variant of the ever popular Dank Juice series.”
Another popular brew is the El Dankerino, who’s name reflects a Big Lebowski reference like Duderino. Oleary said it is a “super popular DIPA we make every year. It packs a hoppy punch up front with a smooth citrus finish weighing in at 10% ABV as a West Coast DIPA.”
Odd Side Ales
41 Washington Ave STE 160
Grand Haven, MI 49417
More Michigan’s Best:
Taste the Dragon’s Share with these hard seltzers from New Holland
Michigan’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery to open this summer
One of the top rated breweries in Indianapolis comes from Michigan
How to get a Dragon’s Milk Boot from Wolverine
Short’s Brewing brings its annual Anni party to you
New Michigan cider, ‘Those women from Michigan’ to be released
Third Nature Brewing built for outdoor dining, and a pandemic
Michigan’s largest winery celebrates a century of winemaking
Amy’s Top Ten beers of 2020
Gonzo’s Top Ten beers of 2020
A beer trifecta for Grand Rapids
Got a tip about a great Michigan beer? We’d love to hear about it.
@mlivemibest on Twitter
@mlivemibest on Instagram
Facebook at MLiveMIBest.
Join in by using the hashtag #mibest. Our most recent search was for Michigan’s Best Fish Fry.