While the ranks of potheads and hopheads don't always overlap, one place where they do is the realm of "dank" IPAs.
Craft brewers have flooded the market with an array of brews with hop bouquets resembling the dense, sometimes piney, scents of high-grade weed. Which makes sense given that cannabis and humulus lupulus, or the common hop, are related.
Yes, the heady flavors present in hop-heavy malted beers and the finest ganja come from plants in the same family.
Since 2017, when the flavor profile became popular in IPAs, specific hop varietals such as Ekuanot, Idaho 7 and Nelson Sauvin have been used to create that wet-blanket, musty flavor — and lovers of anything dank have flocked to this sub-style of IPAs, which includes both traditional clear IPAs and the hazy kind.
To get a get a wider perspective on just what's pouring dank in the Alamo City, we made the rounds of local breweries to get the blunt details on these distinctive ales.
The first local iterations of dank IPAs were Freetail Brewing Co.'s (4035 N. Loop 1604., freetailbrewing.com) Buffalo Hump 1840 — brewed with Nelson Sauvin and Rakau hops — and Velocihoptor, which employs the Falconer's Flight hop blend. An exclusive blend from grower Hopunion LLC, the Falconer's Flight blend features Pacific Northwest hops meant to honor the legacy of late brewing legend Glen Hay Falconer. Each hop in the blend features resounding aromatic qualities of tropical fruits, citrus, floral, lemon and grapefruit.
Though Buffalo Hump and Velocihoptor are legendary — at least among stank-seeking locals — Freetail also produces less-intense IPAs, including the more approachable fan favorite Soul Doubt. Buffalo Hump isn't on tap at the moment, but Velocihoptor can be found at the Loopland brewpub. Six-packs of Soul Doubt cans are available at retail and convenience outlets across San Antonio.
Tucked away on the city's Northwest side, Mad Pecker Brewing (6025 Tezel Road, madpeckerbrewing.com) has become known San Antonio's primary haze dealer, thanks to periods when that variety of IPAs dominated its offerings.
Some of Mad Pecker's hop-heavy IPAs include 2020's AKA Johnny Haze, whose name leaves little doubt as to what the brewer was going for. It's a reference to Wu-Tang Clan member and reefer aficionado Method Man's oft-used nickname "Johnny Blaze."
The brewer's current dank offering, Dank SimHoptra, is brewed annually for 4/20 and features Apollo, Simcoe and Citra Cryo hops. Dank SimHoptra is also double dry-hopped, meaning the flowers are added late in the brewing process — either during fermentation or conditioning — for a stronger flavor. That accentuates the ale's resinous grapefruit character and tropical fruit notes. It's available only at the brewpub.
Black Laboratory Brewing (1602 E. Houston St., blacklaboratorybrewing.com) has earned a rep for experimentation thanks to its pickle Margarita sours and honey- and juniper-packed amber ales. However, the brewery also blasts its love for musty IPAs from the rooftops, offering its Mox's IPA year-round. An American IPA brewed with Mosaic, Azacca and Citra hops, Mox's offers a definite dank character, a result of copious amounts of dry hopping. And it's named for the brewer's canine mascot.
The brewery's Space Force IPA series, which graces its taps on a seasonal basis, uses a different hop for each batch. The most recent version, released just in time for 4/20, is brewed with Ekuanot and concentrated Citra hops, which lend a noticeable musty and damp character with tropical fruit notes. Both are only available at the brewery taproom.
A trek along SA's Dank Trail wouldn't be complete without a stop by Weathered Souls Brewing Co. (606 Embassy Oaks, weatheredsouls.beer). Though increasingly known for pastry-style stouts, Weathered Souls loves the dank and juicy too. Past favorites such as Who's Got the Juice Now?, brewed with Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic hops, have flown off the shelves. The mega-sticky SpottieOttieHopalicious IPA, brewed with Galaxy, Citra and Mosaic hops, is currently flowing from Weathered Souls' taps. The name, inspired by legendary hip-hop duo's Outkast's song "SpottieOttieDopaliscious," says it all.
Second Pitch Beer Co. (11935 Starcrest Dr., secondpitchbeer.com), located just a couple of miles up the road from Weathered Souls, is best known for its takes on classic styles with no deviations. However, if called upon, the crew can turn out the dank and musty. Not My First Rodeo, brewed with Sabro, Idaho 7 and Mosaic hops, checks all the boxes when it comes to the dank side of IPAs. This is a taproom-only offering — for now, at least.
Last December, Second Pitch's Hometown Lager, Summer Lightning Ale and Meet in the Middle IPA won space on H-E-B shelves, so NMFR may be getting some retail love soon enough.
These examples should give any dank-curious beer fan an opportunity to explore some of the city's stankiest beers. But by no means is it a comprehensive list. Other area breweries — Southerleigh Brewing at Pearl, Adkins-based Cactus Land Brewing and Alamo Beer Co. — also offer hop-heavy IPAs worth checking out.
Grab a buddy, load up on munchies and lose yourself in the dankness.
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