During a Lagunitas tasting at the Supecompressor HQ, I couldn't help but notice a couple of bearded and substantially chill dudes toting around a vaporizer. When I inquired about the piece of machinery, they dispelled any notions of a mid-evening toke and turned me on to the idea of vaping hops. By following the Meet The Parents mandate of "you can milk just about anything with nipples," we found out that you really can smoke just about anything with a vaporizer.
Wait, you don't know what hops are?!
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First and foremost a) shame on you and b) hops are a flower that act as a flavoring and stability agent in beer. How can you tell if your beer is filled to the brim with hops? Easy—if it's bitter, citrusy, and has a clever name, you've got yourself a hoppy beer.
Smoking hops is easy to do because the plant itself is actually in the Cannabaceae family, which also produces, yep, cannabis. So, when you look at the hop buds, they look very similar to weed and almost appear as if someone decided to make marijuana into rabbit food.
Preparation is easy: grind your hops into a fine power, load the powder into a vaporizer (we used a Volcano) and reap the benefits.
If you set your vaporizer too high, you can potentially burn the hops; if you vape too low, you won't taste anything. My dudes set their Volcano at approximately 240 degrees fahrenheit—which trial and error deduced was the perfect temperature.
Unlike weed, you can't become intoxicated from smoking hops. All you get is a very distinct flavor, or "mouthfeel" as weirdos say, that tastes—for lack of a better phrase—incredibly bizarre.
There's absolutely zero harshness on the lungs when you inhale and, honestly, I only knew I was doing it right by judging the deflation of the balloon. After keeping the vapor in my lungs for a few seconds, I exhaled. Alongside the lack of lung-harshness, you can't see physical evidence of the vaporized hops when you breath out. No steam, no smoke, just a first-class ticket to flavor country.
How does it taste? Think of it as if you had complete control over the burp you expel from chugging a bottle of beer. When you breath out, you're exhaling a pure hoppy flavor with hints of juniper berry and pine. It's thick, citrusy, and full. However it's a quick taste that leaves you wanting more; akin to having a dream where you're eating a huge breakfast and then wake up with the taste of bacon in your mouth.
Jeremy Glass is the Vice editor for Supercompressor and, before he goes to bed, he will lay six strips of bacon out on his George Foreman grill.