As summer wraps up, we could all use at least one more easygoing and mellow warm weather experience – if not several. What better than a cannabis and beer pairing for warm, breezy, late-summer nights? We chose the classic Northern Lights strain to go alongside Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s 805 Blonde Ale. Firestone is based in Paso Robles, along California’s central coast. While the company is well known for its seriously hoppy offerings in the classic west coast style, it’s 805 Blonde is light and easy to drink, perfect for warm weather.
Northern Lights is a legendary indica strain, with much to offer fans of the classic indica experience, as one of the most famous cannabis strains of all time. This quintessential pure indica descends from Afghani and Thai landrace strains, and has itself given rise to popular hybrids such as Super Silver Haze and Shiva Skunk. Some rumors place the origins of Northern Lights on an island near Seattle, Washington, where eleven sprouts became the basis for the new strain that would soon sweep the world. This would have been during the 70s or 80s, when strain origins were shrouded in the hazy history of prohibition, when the mysterious origins of strains were not an accident, but a necessary reality for underground growers.
As one of the more commonly found pure indica strains, Northern Lights is ideal for a variety of medical uses, including alleviating the user from stress, pain, and nausea, correcting lack of appetite, and relieving chronic pain, back pain, arthritis, insomnia, as well as depression and other mood-related issues.
To complement the earthy notes of Northern Lights, the 805 offers a smooth experience with a decidedly clean finish, and a relatively low alcohol content of less than 5 percent – perfect for session drinking. You can spend a long, lazy summer evening drinking 805 without becoming seriously intoxicated the way you might from an 8 percent IPA, or excessively full as with a heavy stout. Yet, while easy to drink, this ale is not timid when it comes to taste. Malty, grainy, and honey flavors dominate the palate initially, with a mild, floral, hoppy bitterness for balance, as well as a sweet aftertaste. Blonde ales are essentially the craft beer world’s answer to mass marketed lagers, and the 805 is a great intro to craft beer for newcomers who might be averse to bolder offerings. It also carries a distinctive enough flavor to engage veteran craft beer drinkers. But, much like mass marketed lagers, it is light enough for a long night of drinking and mellow enough to pair with food at a barbecue or a picnic.
One could be forgiven for not anticipating the potency of Northern Lights based on the smell alone. While pleasant, the smell of this batch is relatively mild, with a light pine or lemon zest. The scent does not burst out of the jar or bag the way some cannabis odors might, instead you will really have to stick your nose inside to truly appreciate the aromas of this Northern Lights.
Visually, the strain is also fairly low key - muted darker green buds with faint accents of purple. It seems unlikely to me that many cannabis enthusiasts would choose this strain out of a visual line-up.
Once smoked, though, the taste begins to give a clue about the potent experience to come, packing more of a punch than the initial smell. The dense smoke tastes sweet and earthy, which pairs well with the light, sweet, and airy fresh baked bread taste of the 805.
Unlike some indica strains that come with some initial cerebral effect that creep into the body, the effects of Northern Lights go directly, almost instantly, to the body. The warm and cozy body sensation is perfect for relaxing in a hammock, and perhaps staring up at the stars outside. The effects of Northern Lights are noticeably numbing and almost narcotic in nature, but also come with a dreamy, contended, and mildly euphoric sensation that is great for stress and insomnia. The muscle relaxing properties are also particularly strong in Northern Lights. This is a great strain for outdoor summer relaxation, but is probably better suited to be enjoyed relaxing next to the water instead of swimming, or recuperating after the hike rather than during. Both elements of the pairing are light enough to leave you social and talkative, although the 805 will add a gently relaxing element to the experience, which may see you absent-mindedly drifting from dreamy relaxation into a light nap if you close your eyes for too long. Together, Northern Lights and 805 Blonde Ale are the perfect combination for finishing off a long summer day. Keep this one in mind as you enjoy the rest of summer’s relaxing nights.