What Does The Term 'Dank' Mean When It Comes To Beer?

If you enjoy drinking or even cooking with beer, then you may be familiar with some of the more common terms to describe different styles of beers, like lager, porter, and IPA. Beer enthusiasts, sometimes affectionately referred to as "beer geeks," may also be familiar with the different types of hops used in brews. If you're not aware, the dried flowers, or cones, from the hop plant are used in beer making, and when they're boiled down in the brew, they help give beer its flavor, foamy head, and antibacterial elements that help beer retain its freshness, as detailed by Serious Eats.

Hops can be grown in a number of regions around the world, and the plant is a member of the hemp family, per Britannica. And being that they come from the same family, it's not surprising that Beer Maverick reports that certain types of hops and cannabis can have a comparable smell since the two plants have "similar oil makeup and aroma compounds." Perhaps it's the similar aroma between these plants that can help explain the reason a newer descriptor has made its way onto the beer scene.

How certain IPAs became known as 'dank'

If you're not familiar with the term "dank," it may sound as though it could be a negative term, but as Leafly details, the word is used to describe "fragrant, high-quality cannabis." But the term is not just used to talk about the aroma that permeates from cannabis. According to Punch Drink, dank is a newer beer term that can be associated with a hop that has a smell that's reminiscent of cannabis, and typically those kinds of hops are used in making IPAs.

Just as wine is made from different varieties of grapes, brewers utilize various hops to yield different flavors, aromas, colors, and beer styles, per Sierra Nevada. As reported by The Amateur Brewer, there are 10 types of hops with an aroma that has "earthy, piney, woodsy notes" to them and when those hops are used in an IPA, those beers are deemed a dank style, because of the beer's particular smell. The next time you see a dank IPA on the tap list at your favorite craft brewery, now you know what to expect from this newer, highly aromatic beer.