The Hemperor Beer Review: New Belgium Adds Hemp Flavor & Aroma To Hops

Our Hemperor beer review in a nut (hemp?) shell: Delicious!

New Belgium Brewing recently invited our Editor in Chief to a special Austin, Texas tasting of their new hemp beer, The Hemperor HPA.

The Hemperor is a unique new offering. This is the first hemp beer from a brewery as ubiquitous as New Belgium. While this “HPA” or Hemp Pale Ale has the strong flavor of hops, the hemp flavor balances out the bitterness. The smell of The Hemperor has to be experienced to be believed. The private downtown bar where the tasting took place smelled like a hemp field at harvest, just from the open bottles and glasses of beer.

New Belgium are also believers in hemp legalization. One dollar from every bottle sold goes to groups like Hemp 4 Victory.

“It’s a crop that has a lot of stigma in this country and I think this beer could be a catalyst for change,” declared Steve Navas, brand activation manager at New Belgium.

New Belgium is also encouraging beer fans to contact their elected representatives and demand total hemp legalization.


Hemp and hops have a long history of human cultivation but they’ve rarely been combined in a modern beer. Since New Belgium is from Colorado, the heart of modern hemp growing in the U.S. it might be inevitable that they’d decide to mix the two.

“Our brewers met some farmers, got to brewing, and figured out it tastes great in a beer,” Navas said.

Regulations are one issue that may have kept hemp beers from reaching a national market before. As the creators of hemp wine discovered, the government bodies which oversee alcohol licensing and distribution in the U.S. are resistant to ingredients like hemp. Now for sale in 49 states, The Hemperor is still unavailable in Kansas, which has extremely strict laws on hemp products.

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Steve Navas of New Belgium poses with a glass of The Hemperor at the Austin, Texas tasting. (Ministry of Hemp)

New Belgium is lobbying to change those regulations. “Hopefully in the next few months we’ll be able to sell this in that state as well,” Navas said.

Other than that small amount of resistance, he said people greet The Hemperor with excitement.

“People are overall ecstatic about it,” Navas said.

“The beer speaks for itself and it smells for itself,” he added, taking a whiff of the beer’s distinctive aroma in his glass.


Official Hemperor Beer Review
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  • Highlights: New Belgium’s The Hemperor HPA has an incredibly rich, herbal hempy aroma but contains absolutely no THC. It has a light golden amber color. The taste of hemp balances out the bitterness of the hops. A portion of the profits from every bottle sold go to hemp legalization causes.
  • Price: $18.83 for a six-pack (Amazon)
  • Strength: 7% alcohol by volume
  • Taste & Aroma: Wow! Powerful green hemp aroma from this pale ale. The hemp adds a nutty, smooth flavor that balances out the hops, especially in comparison to most IPAs. This beer is sweet with a very mild bitter aftertaste.
  • Ingredients: Water, ale yeast, wheat (Pale, White Wheat and Midnight Wheat), Hops (Nugget, Cascade, HBC 522 and Simcoe), Hemp hearts and natural flavor

The Hemperor is sourced from Colorado-grown hemp plants. Despite the smell, The Hemperor contains does not contain any THC, the ingredient in marijuana that makes people feel high. It’s also not a source of CBD or any of the other cannabinoids or terpenes found in the cannabis plant, just delicious hemp flavor. Sign up at Hemp 4 Victory to join the efforts of New Belgium and their allies to spread the word about hemp legalization.

Kit O'Connell is an Editor of Ministry of Hemp. His writing has also appeared at The Establishment, Firedoglake, YES! Magazine, the Texas Observer and Truthout.

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  • Tim says:

    Wow , one fine tasting beer ! I have been drinking beer for a bit longer than 50 years now and can say with no hesitation that this is my new favorite beer. A bit expensive , but worth it ! Over the last 20 years or so there has been a bunch of micro breweries come into existence but these guys here have come up with a really great new beer that should be a big hit. I pop one of these open and I am transported back in time to the 1970s and my first exposure to really skunky smelling weed ! Gotta love it !

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