PORTLAND, Maine — Two of Maine’s most prolific breweries, Shipyard and Sea Dog, have launched their first forays into the new THC-infused beer market, and the initial impressions are curious and unexpected. For this particular writer, the fact does not elude me that not even that many years ago I was arrested for possession of marijuana, several times in fact, and subsequently processed by several state legal systems, and let’s just say it is more than a little surreal to be even writing this review. But the fact that I am is testament to the sea change in attitudes across the country and internationally, towards the use of cannabis. It is a brave new world indeed, and with Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead THC-infused and Sea Dogs’ Blue Paw Blueberry THC-infused elixirs, the arrival of a new dawn of weed consumption is upon us, a new buzz per se, the “weed” beer!
Before I launch into the reviews, it’s best to address any expectations, preconceived notions and illusions that may exist, and especially any ensuing questions. “God, craft beer drinkers hate those flavors, don’t we!?!” First and foremost, both the Blue Paw THC-infused and Pumpkinhead THC-infused brews are more akin to ginger beers, or perhaps a light kombucha, not so much a bitter lager or frothy pint. Secondly, it must be stated there is no alcohol in either of these beverages; this is buds only! So you can go ahead and get any ideas about the existence of a multi-buzz libation out of your head now, at least any legal potation, for that matter.
What we do have with both of these brews are refreshing drinks with a little added extra, and it’s the extra that warrants the steep price tag, about $7 a pop, as well as the promise of an enhanced consumption experience. Each of these elixirs only contains 5mg of THC, but I will say this writer (along with his loyal team of test subjects), were all impressed with the effects and overall potencies of both offerings. More on that later.
I also think it is best to admit, now, to having a serious bias to anything pumpkin flavored, or anything containing actual pumpkin in it. The closest I can come to having an earnestly enjoyable experience with anything pumpkin-related is a late night ravishing of store-bought generic pumpkin pie, accompanied by gobs of ice cream and smothered in whip cream, and only during a post-thanksgiving munchie binge session and almost always, thoroughly fueled by booze. I must even admit I was a bit disappointed to learn that Shipyard had chosen the orange gourd route when I first learned of their initial assay into the THC-infused beverage business. I decided I would confront my biggest challenge at the onset, and so my contingent of human guinea pigs (who for the sake of anonymity I will refer to as Keith, Chelsea, Susana and Lee moving forward), and I jumped into our first introductions to the world of bud brews via the Pumpkinhead THC.
My first reaction was, as I stated before, both curious and unexpected, but ultimately positive. Upon my first apprehensive sip, I was immediately amazed at how not-so-pumpkiny the Pumpkinhead THC elixir tasted. Don’t get me wrong, the overtones are there, but the taste is subtle. I was more than pleasantly surprised when I realized I wouldn’t need to summon anything to finish the drink. At the very least, (and of course with the utmost respect to the scientific method), I intended to make sure all 5mg of THC ended up in my bloodstream, so I could accurately assess the accoutrements. It goes without saying I was more than pleased to know executing the remainder of my investigation would be a pleasurable ordeal.
For someone who does like pumpkin, like my trusted subject Chelsea, they might find the taste “bold” and “refreshing” like she did, and may also add, as she did, that they “really like this one,” and might say “I can see myself drinking these a lot.” But as with all things that are deftly polarizing, as pumpkins surely are, Susana was not a fan, and she found it “bland” and “watery.” For the record, I did not. Perhaps she hates pumpkin more than I do, because I must confess to thoroughly enjoying it, and I found the taste to be robust, spicy and soundly reminiscent of autumn, Halloween and the smell of decaying leaves. Keith especially enjoyed the Pumpkinhead and preferred it to the Sea Dog Blue Paw, and remarked that he enjoyed its “soft, crisp taste.” Keith also claims to not be a “pumpkin person.” Lee, on the other hand, said the Pumpkinhead may in fact be “too seasonal” and perhaps not that appealing for about 11.5 months out of the year, but also added she would likely rock the crap out of out them for two weeks, or at least I think that’s what she was trying to convey.
It’s fair to say that both of these brews carry seasonal connotations, but with the added effects of THC, perhaps it’s also fair to say that getting seasonally vibey with either the Blue Paw THC or the Pumpkinhead THC may now be manageable any time of the year. Even after consuming only one Pumpkinhead THC elixir, my steadfast crew and I began feeling some effects from the THC, and this slightly astounded us. I’m not sure any of us expected to actually feel the 5mg.
With continued and strict adherence to the scientific method, or in at least some form of method, me and my ardent aggregation re-convened on a different day to sample the Sea Dog Blue Paw THC Elixir. I think it’s prudent for the reader to know that this writer is also biased when it comes to all things blueberry, and I will admit to already knowing that when it came to a choice between the two, the Sea Dog brew was gonna be the one for me.
The Blue Paw is similar to the Pumpkinhead in many ways. Again, reminiscent of a ginger beer, but this time with a mellow body and obviously, rich with blueberry overtones. This is a drink I can see myself rocking for the next few months. For someone who does like blueberry like my credible liege Chelsea, they might find the taste “authentically blueberryish, soft and summery,” and say things like “this pairs perfectly with hot cheese popcorn,” and “I can see this as a good sailboat drink.” Susana found it to be “light” and “delicious,” and I suspect Sea Dog is the clear winner in her book. Lee’s silence on this matter may be slightly alarming but this article is far too long already to delve any deeper. Keith, on the other hand, expressed a clear preference for the Shipyard, and was not a fan of the Blue Paw. To each their own, I suppose.
As with the Pumpkinhead, the Blue Paw packed a punch. In fact, the crew and I were aptly lit by the end of our extensive analysis. On both occasions we were more than a bit bewildered that we were able to feel any effects, let alone feel a uniquely original buzz, something I think we would all attest to. All five of us have a healthy tolerance to all things cannabis and are regular consumers of THC edibles and marijuana leaf products. This is not, however, your token special brownie coma; it is much more the inconspicuous high. Think a quicker body buzz, certainly a CBD-like relaxed state of being taking hold, perhaps tinged with the slightest dose of drowsiness. Overall, very pleasant. My entire resolute squad of professionally unprofessional and gloriously unscientific taste testers report they could see themselves opting for a night of drinking weed brews over alcoholic brews, on the right occasion.
In conclusion and in reference to my aforementioned summary, it’s safe to say both the Pumpkinhead THC elixir and the Sea Dog Blue Paw THC elixir will be sure-fire hits. Even acquiring them for this review turned out to be a challenge, requiring some phone calls and visits to several dispensaries, as many had sold out of their initial supply.
I want to believe the imminent emergence of THC elixirs could end up having a profound effect on our society. Only time will tell, but it is hard not to consider how the weed brew may infiltrate our social lives, how it might change a night out — or a night in for that matter — and how maybe the mighty booze business might be in for its biggest threat yet? Probably not, but the ramifications of this new dawn of THC may yet surprise us all. I suspect it will be curious and unexpected at the least, and perhaps I’m hopeful that these things catch on like wildfire.
As a musician myself, I can’t help but wonder what live music might look like with an audience of THC-infused elixir drinkers versus the standard affair of belligerent inebriates? I can also imagine there will be many, many more variations of the THC-infused swig, and I can even imagine that, dare I say, a new genre of THC-infused brew-hipsters will emerge to annoy us all in the very near future. So, before the inevitable occurs, best you get hip quick. Both of these offerings are well worth a whirl.
Note from the author: My unflinching cohorts and I did our best to give you an accurate assessment of these two offerings. We did our best to overcome our fruit and vegetable flavor biases to bring you our honest appraisals. In summary of the summary, we are still amazed at the potency or apparent potencies of both of these beverages considering the small amount of THC in the beverages themselves. We can only hope the editorial team may choose to follow this article with a more scientific perspective on how the body processes liquid vs. solid food-based THC, how it may affect you differently, maybe written by like, a doctor or something? Considering that a college drop-out unemployed musician wrote this review…
Note from Managing Editor Matt Laslo: At The News Station the opinions of unemployed musicians are highly prized, along with those of scientists and doctors. Commissioning that followup piece now!