Terpenes in Beer: The Secret to a Superior Craft Beer

Terpenes in Beer: The Secret to a Superior Craft Beer

The different types of beer are almost infinite. Depending on the base ingredients and the process used, it’s possible to spin off new flavors and aromatic subtleties at will. 

So, what’s the secret to a good beer? Many would say it’s the hops, but why are hops so critical to depth of flavor? The answer lies in terpenes, aromatic compounds that exist in all plants and contribute to their distinct aroma and taste.

However, you don’t have to depend on natural terpenes in your plant ingredients when creating great-tasting beers. Single isolated terpenes or full bodied essential oils can also be added to beers for heightened, new, and refreshing experiences.

All About Terpenes In Drinks

Some terpenes are naturally present in drinks. For example, anything with citrus or hops in it will already contain high-flavor terpenes. Additional terpenes can be added to already delicious drinks or combined with bitters to create unique flavor profiles in more mundane beverages.

Since terpenes drive flavor profiles, it can be easy to develop custom drinks simply by adding the appropriate terpene(s) responsible for those tastes. Some push a citrusy flavor to the surface, while others have more of an apple flavor or a spicy, peppery kick.

One of the best places to get strong, flavorful terpenes is from the cannabis plant. Hops and cannabis both contain multiple terpenes with distinct flavor profiles. Terpenes sourced from cannabis don’t contain cannabinoids (the other popular chemical compound in cannabis), so they won’t make you high.

How do you add terpenes to drinks? First, they must be extracted in the desired form, then stabilized and made water- or alcohol-soluble. The resulting liquid or powdered terpenes can then be added to the beverage to enhance or complement its existing flavor profile. 

Disclaimer: Terpenes are non-polar oil-based hydrocarbons that, in pure form, can be very potent and sometimes volatile, flammable, and even corrosive compounds. For this reason, they should strictly be used by experienced and trained manufacturers, and we advise those unfamiliar with these compounds to exercise caution.

What Is Terpene-Infused? What Does It Mean?

Terpene-infused beverages allow for even more customization than ever, and that doesn’t stop with beer. Terpenes can be added to all kinds of drinks using water- or alcohol-soluble individual terpenes or terpene blends from various popular cannabis strains.

When terpenes are added to a drink, the result is a terpene-infused beverage. Some popular terpene-infused non-alcoholic drinks include:

  • Sparkling waters
  • Sodas
  • Teas
  • Coffees
  • Juices
  • Energy drinks

More and more terpene-infused drinks hit the market every day. Beverage manufacturers across the spectrum are finding out how terpenes can enhance their products. 

It’s not just non-alcoholic fare. Beer, as well as stronger spirits, also benefit from added terpene content that can boost or complement the terpenes in hops for the creation of new and interesting flavors.

Terpenes In Beer 

Terpenes in beer can include both naturally occurring ones from the hops and another added to enhance flavor profiles or make them more complex. Naturally occurring terpenes in beer can deliver a hoppy flavor, a spicy kick, a citrusy tartness, or a floral sweetness. 

Selected isolated terpenes added to beer can be utilized to temper strong flavors and bring complexity to boring ones. The right terpene combination added during the brewing process can even pull formerly hidden aromas and flavors to the surface in unexpected and exciting ways.

Why add terpenes to beer?

Pairing specific terpenes with specific types of craft beers can temper strong flavor profiles and make simple ones more exciting. This flavor enhancement lends itself to continual experimentation and customization.

For example, a sweet stout can be made more interesting with a bit of humulene, increasing its hoppiness, while a citrusy terpene like limonene or the floral notes of linalool can walk back the hoppiness of a strong IPA. Terpene flavors reminiscent of chocolate can also compliment a porter or stout wonderfully. 

If one really wants to experience true novelty, a full-bodied and True-To-Flower™ Cannabis Derived Essential Oil from Lab Effects made alcohol soluble through our 2nd Generation services will blow your mind with a sensory explosion of beer that tastes like the cannabis flower smells. Paired great with skunky beers like Corona or Heineken. 

Terpene-infused beer can make the difference between a mildly popular ale or lager and one that goes completely viral due to its unique flavor profile. 

Hops and Terpenes: The Secret to Craft Beer

Hops and terpenes are inseparable. Terpenes are what give hops their unique and intense flavors and aromas. Adding liquid hop terpenes to craft beer can provide an instant twist on an old favorite or help develop an entirely new beer.

Some common terpenes that occur naturally in hop varieties and that can also be added to customize a beer flavor profile include:


Humulene is the main terpene found in hops. This terpene is also found in cannabis, basil, clove, black pepper, sage, and ginseng. Its flavor profile has been described as earthy, woody, spicy, and (of course) hoppy. Humulene-dominant hops include Mt. Hood and Saaz.


Myrcene is another terpene common in hops and, thus, in beer. Myrcene is also found in sweet basil, cardamom, lemongrass, mangos, and cannabis. Its flavor profile has been described as earthy and spicy with a strong hint of mango. Myrcene-rich hops include Amarillo, Cascade, Citra, and Simcoe.


Beta-caryophyllene is found in many plants besides hops, including black pepper, rosemary, oregano, lavender, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and cannabis. Its flavor profile has been described as both earthy and spicy, with notes of cloves breaking through to the forefront. Hops high in beta-caryophyllene include East Kent Goldings and Vanguard.


Limonene is common in hops, as well as citrus fruits, mint, pine, cannabis, and juniper. To no one’s surprise, its flavor profile has been described as citrusy. Limonene is front and center in hops such as Amarillo, Centennial, and Chinook.


Linalool is closely related to myrcene. In addition to being found in hops, it’s the most common terpene found in cannabis and also appears in citrus plants, laurels, mints, and even fungi. Its flavor profile has been described as floral and fruity. Linalool is a distinct flavor-driver in hops such as Brewhouse and Lemondrop.


Alpha-pinene is, of course, found in hops and cannabis but is better known for being the primary terpene found in a wide variety of conifers, although it also makes an appearance in lime, basil, dill, and parsley. Its flavor profile has been described as herbaceous, earthy, and strongly bitter. Hops rich in alpha-pinene include Fuggle and Santiam.


Geraniol is found not only in hops but in rose, citronella, cannabis, geranium, and lemon as well. Its flavor profile has been described as, unsurprisingly, deeply floral and rose-like. Hops with plenty of geraniol include Golding, Liberty, and Nugget.


Alpha-terpineol is found in abundance in hops, pine, cannabis, and lapsang souchong tea, as well as in the oil-rich rinds of citrus fruits. Its flavor profile has been described as lime merged with mint and anise. Alpha-terpineol is often concentrated in Polish hops such as Sybilla.


Farnesene is found in hops, cannabis, cedarwood, ginger, sandalwood, grapefruit, and the skin of green apples. Its flavor profile has been described as a tart green apple with hints of wood and earth and a touch of citrus. Farnesene-rich hops include Bravo, Northern Brewer, and Tettnanger

Hops and Cannabinoids: More In Common Than You Think

Hops and cannabis are closely related plant families, which is why it’s no surprise that hops and cannabinoids have quite a few similarities. One of those similarities is terpenes. 

The cannabis plant is rich in cannabinoids like CBD and THC, among others. Hops, on the other hand, lack the key enzyme required to turn acid into cannabinoids like THC. The good news: hops is still chock full of terpenes.

This means you can still get a flavor reminiscent of popular cannabis strains from your brew. There’s no reason craft beer brewers can’t play around with the same terpene profiles found in such strains to create more interesting brews. Imagine a beer that brings to mind the brewer or beer lover’s favorite cannabis flavor profile!

Terpenes and Beer: A Guide to Perfect Pairings

Pairing terpenes with different types of beer creates unlimited potential flavor profiles to play with and enjoy. Our LabEffects alcohol/spirits terpene samples kit gives you the perfect way to pair terpenes with beer types and experience enhanced flavors.

This kit includes five terpene profiles you can use to make terpene-infused beer:

Cannabis Essence

IPA lovers will enjoy this terpene blend that enhances flavor and brings out faint undertones to create a slightly more full-bodied effect. Not heavy or overwhelming, Cannabis Essence works just as well on a Dos Equis lager.

Mango Kush

The perfect addition to a blonde ale, this terpene blend will bring a revelation of additional flavor to the sweet, caramel maltiness. 

Tangie Haze

Mix Tangie Haze with Belgian pale ale like Coppertail Trippel. The citrusy flavor links the ale’s underlying bitterness with a soft sweetness. Alternately, give a skunky Mexican beer even more kick. 

Chocolate Thai

Try this terpene blend with a nice porter. Pair it with porters that already have a chocolate profile to enhance it, or blend into varieties featuring vanilla, coffee, caramel, or coconut for an entirely new experience.

Apple Jack

A Baltic porter or a sweet stout is just begging for the addition of our Apple Jack terpene blend. The sweet, slightly tart fruity flavor rounds off the effect of these popular beer choices.

Looking for Terpenes for Beer?

Creating custom beverages and craft beers is easy when you have natural flavors on hand. LabEffects’ Beer & Spirits Terpenes is a second-generation product designed for the beverage industry. 

  • We offer both cannabis-derived strains and natural terpene flavors. 
  • We only use 100% natural, plant-derived sources.
  • Our natural terpenes don’t contain artificial additives or chemicals. 
  • We guarantee our terpenes to be pure and consistent.
  • Terpene blends can be customized to your precise preferences.

Get your Beer & Spirits Terpenes samples kit today and level up your beer brewing experience.

Order cannabis terpenes wholesale today from a reputable company in the U.S. cannabis industry. Lab Effects is cGMP-certified, ISO 9001-certified, HACCP-certified, FDA-registered, and ANAB-accredited.

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