Hemp and hops unite in New Belgium's latest beer

The Hemperor HPA, New Belgium Brewing’s new year-round release, is billed as offering “a mystical marriage of hops and hemp that fills the senses with a ground-breaking blend of herbal olfactory like no other beer on the market.”

Right now, it’s only available on draft in limited release, but it will be widely available in bottles in May.  

The sample bottle I received came in a plain brown carton, with no label or anything else identifying it as a “Hemp Pale Ale.”

But beyond, the obvious grin and snicker factor, New Belgium is very serious about this product, dedicating years to research and development, not to mention much time navigating the legal system.   

“Let’s face it, brewers have been trying to get cannabis-like aromas from hops for years, but it’s always missing a certain something,” said Ross Koenigs, New Belgium’s Research and Development Brewer, in a press release. “The Hemperor HPA is possibly the first beer to deliver meaningful hemp flavors and aromas.”

Hop and hemp plants are genetically related and produce similar organic aromatic compounds known as terpenes. Federal law prohibits brewers from using hemp leaf and flower, but New Belgium used other natural plant materials that emulate hemp terpenes.

The Hemperor HPA contains no THC or CBD, but it’s brewed with hemp hearts, which are the meat of the seed, minus the shell, and dry-hopped with Simcoe and experimental HBC 522 hops.

Moreover, The Hemperor is part of a larger campaign to make industrial hemp legal. And not surprisingly, Willie Nelson is involved.

According to new Belgium: 

Beer drinkers will be encouraged to learn more and take action at thehemperor.com . New Belgium is also partnering with GCH Inc, the company founded by Willie Nelson and family to build brands inspired by his journey as an artist and advocate, in supporting the national campaign, Hemp 4 Victory,  H4V75.com . One dollar from every barrel of The Hemperor HPA sold will be donated to Hemp 4 Victory in support of its mission to raise awareness and promote pro-hemp bills in the House & Senate.  

Beer Pick

The Hemperor HPA

New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colo.

Available on draft, with six-packs of 12 oz. bottles available in May.


Billed as a ground-breaking blend of hemp and hops, New Belgium’s new year-round “Hemp Pale Ale” gives cannabis lovers and beer drinkers a giddy sort of common ground. 

The Hemperor is brewed with hemp hearts, pale and wheat malts, and Nugget, Cascade, Simcoe and experimental HBC 522 hops. The result is frothy golden ale with a burst of pungent, herbal aromas followed by a dank, bitter-sweet flavor that lingers into the finish.

Pair with

A beer made for the munchies? Try it with microwave popcorn, Zapp's Voodoo Chips, Krystal Burgers or a Kit Kat bar.  


More Beer Picks

The latest beer news from AJC Beer Town

Read more stories like this by  liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook , following  @ATLDiningNews on Twitter  and  @ajcdining on Instagram

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author