Citation: Bill B. "Hopping Around: An Experience with Hops (exp39360)". Erowid.org. May 21, 2007. erowid.org/exp/39360
Sheryl Crow’s song “All I Wanna Do,” is a song describing Crow’s general views on life. Among other things, Sheryl Crow remarks that she likes “a good beer buzz, early in the morning.” Crow does not simply say she likes getting drunk, but remarks refer, rather specifically, to the fact that the nature of her intoxication is one related to beer only. This leads one to ponder just why beer might produce a state of mind different than what one would encounter drinking any other alcoholic beverage. The most unique ingredient of beer, when compared to other alcoholic beverages, is the use of hops added as a bittering agent.
I suspected hops might have mind altering effects that were not well known or at the very least not properly documented. I decided the best way to test for any kind of psychoactive potential in the hops would be to conduct an experiment using human subjects.
My goal was to see if a solution of “hop tea,” if drank, could produce a describable mind-altering response within a test individual. The basic procedure for the experiment involved boiling one cup of Eroica hop pellets, chosen for their high alpha acid content and taste, in two cups of water, filtering the water, and orally administering the solution to a group of volunteers. As a control, one of the volunteers was given a solution of decaffeinated green tea with enough lemon juice added to simulate the bitterness created by the high alpha acid hops.
In order to get the most accurate results, I chose four subjects who were familiar with the effects of both marijuana and beer. I did this in order to be sure that those who would be reporting any feelings of intoxication would be sure of what they felt. The participants, for confidentiality purposes, will be referred to by the first letter of their names. J is a 19-year-old undergraduate student at Radford University. He describes his alcohol intake as often and his marijuana use as occasional. S and C are 20-year-old female undergraduate students at Virginia Tech. It should be noted as well that C had a prescription for Adderall and had taken it recently at the time of the experiment. They describe their alcohol and marijuana intake as frequent. P is an 18-year-old male undergraduate student at Virginia Tech. He describes his alcohol use as occasional and his marijuana use as occasional.
J,S,C, and P gathered at my apartment for the experiment. While all involved in the experiment knew what I was attempting to research, none knew exactly if they were getting a control or the real thing. At approximately 10:45 PM, J, S, and C were given the hop tea at an approximate dose of one and one-half cups, while P was given the control at a similar dose. I supplied everyone with honey in order to make their beverage as sweet and drinkable as possible. Over the next few minutes the test subjects did their best to consume their respective beverages. J and S, apparently used to gulping down beverages that didn’t taste good, imbibed the tea quickly and had drunk all of it by 10:50 PM. P sipped the control, while C was unable to consume most of her beverage due to the fact she found the tea nauseating.
As everyone drank their beverage, I conducted interviews with each subject every five minutes. Each interview was done one on one, away from the rest of the test subjects in order to prevent any of them influencing the testimony of the other. By 10:50, C was still attempting to finish her dose while S and J had finished theirs. P had finished the control and felt nothing. Of the two that had chugged their dose, the only one who reported anything of interest was J, who reported a slight feeling of light headedness.
At 10:55, I conducted my next round of interviews. J reported a feeling of slight tiredness that he describes as similar to his experience of taking a sleeping pill. S appeared to seem relaxed and highly conversational and reported that she “felt fine.” C, who was still working on finishing the dose described it as “so nasty” and that her stomach was “feeling loopy.” P reported no effects.
At 11:00PM, J felt the same as he had 5 minutes earlier. S, whose eyes seemed slightly glassy, reported nothing more than a slight stomach ache. C summed up the way her stomach felt with the words “stomach. No.” P reported no effects.
By 11:05 C had completely given up on finishing the dose. She felt queasy and reported that she had not been feeling well earlier in the day. J described his feelings as “laid back” and tired. S had no feelings of intoxication to report. P, having taken the control, was beginning to get bored and tired.
The last interview conducted was at 11:15. J finished up the interviews by saying he felt tired and a little light-headed. C felt the same as before. P finished the experiment slightly annoyed and described his feelings by showing two thumbs down. By the end of the experiment, S had begun to feel some effects from the hops. She described herself as feeling “off balance” but could not put it into any other words.
My experiment seems to suggest that the hops have some chemical component that causes the effects described by the participants in the experiment.
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