Young Henrys and Afends announce the Hemp IPA, one of Australia’s first cannabis beers

Young Henrys have unveiled their latest brew, a collaboration with Afends with a very special secret ingredient; hemp.

The Hemp IPA will be available on tap and in cans, rolled out at selected venues and retailers nationwide on October 24th. To find out a little more about the new brew, we spoke to Oscar McMahon from Young Henrys and Daniel Schultz of Halcyon Bioscience.

young henrys afends Hemp IPA

Young Henrys and Afends present the Hemp IPA, one of Australia’s only legal hemp beers, and the first ever brewed with new water soluble hemp oil technology.

Although you’ll be seeing the fruits of the brewers’ labour next week, Oscar assured us the path to his Hemp IPA was not a short one.

“We’ve been working on this beer idea for over a year”, he shared, “and have trialled a bunch of different ways to use hemp in beer including using hemp protein to feed the yeast during propagation, adding hemp seeds or hemp protein to the boil stage of the beer and using hemp and hop based terpenes to heighten flavours and aromas in beers.”

“Our favourite process and the one we have used in this IPA is adding a water soluble organic hemp seed oil to the finished, fermented beer. The raw hemp seed oil has a herbaceous and grassy quality that supports the flavour and aroma of hops.”

young henrys Hemp IPA afends

The brewing challenges were there, sure, but every beer Young Henrys makes undergoes that level of fine tuning. When you’re working with a substance that’s still heavily regulated in Australia however, you’re playing an even tougher game getting your product to shelves.

Daniel, who developed the water soluble hemp technology which was essential to the IPA, had the expert’s input here.

“It took over a decade of constant campaigning to get hemp legalised for food in Australia. That should tell you something about the government’s reluctance to allow people to eat or drink it.”

“In 2017 they eventually caved in but not without leaving a few hurdles for manufacturers and marketers to negotiate before bringing a product to market. For example, you cannot include pictures of hemp leaves on your packaging or marketing materials. You cannot even mention the word cannabis which is the botanical name of the hemp plant.”

“Then there are limits on how much CBD and THC can exist in a beverage. So careful calculations are made before brewing to make sure that the amount of hemp in the beer does not cause the CBD or THC levels to be exceeded. And because hemp is a plant that grows outdoors, the levels of nutrients like CBD and THC naturally vary from one crop to the next, so regular lab tests are essential for selecting the right starting materials to ensure each batch of beer is the same and… legal.” 

young henrys Hemp IPA afends

More and more industries, from clothing to farming to health foods, have been developing and investigating hemp as a viable material alternative in recent years. Its place in the beer industry is a fledgling but promising one, with mostly independent breweries like Young Henrys taking the reins.

Of the future of the cannabis plant in the world of brewing, Oscar is hopeful.

“I think that in an industry like ours where innovation and experimentation have to be balanced against horticulture and seasonal variation definitely sets a scene for new products and processes to be investigated and become more widely used.”

“Aussie hops being such a fragile crop and in such high demand now (both at home and abroad) puts a little bit of pressure on the need for innovations such as brewing with hop hash, terpenes or related plants (hops and hemp are close relatives). A few years ago a hail storm wiped out nearly 40% of Australia’s main hops suppliers’ crops which, as our industry grows, becomes a much bigger problem for more people should that happen again.”

“And with some unknown climate changes on the horizon, it really can’t hurt for people to be experimenting with other things… not to replace hops by any stretch, but to make them go further or support their incredible flavour and aroma in good beer production.”

So if you find yourself looking wistfully to Canada’s recent legalisation and wondering what could be… know that hemp products aren’t completely suppressed back home in Australia.

With companies like Young Henrys, Afends and Halycon Bioscience leading the charge, we’re psyched for a time where hemp isn’t something society scoffs at.


Keep an eye out for Young Henrys and Afends’ Hemp IPA in tins and on tap from October 24th. Find out more here.