Marijuana folklorists trace the use of “420” as a code for pot smoking to a group of 1970s high school students in San Rafael, California, who regularly met at 4:20 p.m. to search for a rumored nearby patch of potent plants.
Every year, around April 20, Lagunitas honors the Waldos with their own beer: A dank, earthy, herbaceous monster of a triple IPA. (Strongly-hopped IPAs are an obvious choice for a marijuana-themed beer: Both hops and marijuana come from the plant family Cannabaceae. — Ed.)
There’s no way around this: It smells noticeably like weed, plus pine resin, mangoes and apricots. The body is full, sweet and sticky – “the stickiest of the icky,” you might say – and there’s a tidal wave of grapefruit and orangey hops before the warm, bitter finish. (This beer doesn’t even try to hide that the alcohol by volume is 11.9 percent.)
Lagunitas is no stranger to marijuana-related beers: It once released a beer called Kronik (later renamed Censored after the government rejected the label), and its popular Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale refers to a 2005 incident in which the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control caught employees smoking pot at a brewery party and briefly suspended the brewery’s license.
So if you’re looking for a beer on April 20, or want to celebrate the “holiday” without smoking anything at all, you might want to hang out with a bottle of the Waldos.
Other beers that fit the 420 theme:
Oskar Blues G’Knight: “Can’o bliss. Satisfy ya.” is on the label of this big, sticky, award-winning imperial red ale.
Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale: One of Sweetwater’s early successes, this crushable, citrusy pale ale was named after its first brew date: April 20, 1997. Labels use the sign for the never-built Interstate 420 around Atlanta, but the slogan “Drink ’em if you got ’em!” gives the game away.
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Lagunitas The Waldos’ Special Ale. lagunitas.com. $14 for a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles.