3.4.7 Hops

Hops #

Binomial / Botanical Name Humulus Lupulus
Street Names Hops
Major Active Compound Various (Disputed)
Indigenous Source Europe; North America
Form Flowers
RoA Oral / Smoked
Personal Rating On Shulgin Scale +**


Hops are of course best known for use in the production of beer, but do in fact have other purposes. Indeed, they are used for a variety of other beverages and in traditional herbal medicines.

I have read a number of accounts which state that hops are psychoactive when smoked or even when consumed alone with hot water, but equally, I have seen this disputed just as frequently. Regarding the former, the claims usually assert that hops are mildly sedating, and are sometimes evidenced by the fact that the plant is related to cannabis.

Even though Erowid states that hops “Promotes Appetite and Sleep; Reduces Anxiety” my expectations are not very high. Note that *I was also initially concerned when I noticed a label on the pack stating ‘alpha-acid 6.17%’, until I discovered that this is a constituent part of the plant itself.

Electing to smoke, at least in the first instance, I pack my large bong at 4:45pm, light and inhale deeply. I actually take three tokes, the second of which is harsh, whilst the other two are smooth. Perhaps I inhaled at different temperatures.

Taking my seat I feel somewhat relaxed, with perhaps the mildest of heady sedations. At this level, we are in placebo terrain, or possibly where, as a non-smoker, the inhalation of smoke itself has caused a bit of a mental reset.

Ten minutes in I still feel a little flushed and calm, and my windpipe is recovering nicely from its slight trauma. This calmness and face flush fade gradually but are still present an hour later.

Could this simply be the impact of smoke aligned with placebo? It doesn’t feel this way, but I am not stoned either. If I was forced to make a call, I would probably say that there is a slight degree of psychoactivity here.


The next day I decide to initiate another experiment; this time by soaking half a mug of hops in hot water, straining into another mug, and drinking as tea. Note here that this is not alcoholic and there is no fermentation.

The taste is very bitter: revolting actually. I manage to get it down and I begin to feel a little distant and for want of better words, light headed. There is no head flush as per smoking, but I may be slightly more relaxed than earlier. In fact none of this is as intense as the effect of the smoking route, and is subtle enough that I would probably have missed it had I been active.

A couple of hours later it has faded although I remain relatively calm. I also feel a little more sleepy than usual for the rest of the day.

Overall, there is probably something to this, although not a lot. In stating this I should also add that I read the following on Wikipedia, which may or may not be a factor here: “Hops tend to be unstable when exposed to light or air and lose their potency after a few months’ storage”.

Hops are a constituent and fundamental part of the beer making process, and are used primarily for bittering, flavouring, and stability.