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Passion for Homebrewing

Certain hop varieties are known to exhibit the familiar and similar smell of weed, but does this indicate a relation? We had this question and decided to dig in a bit further.
Well, as it turns out, Humulus lupulus (hops) and Cannabis sativa (marijuana) both have a similar oil makeup, which is the reason for the familiar smells between the two.
A few of the primary aroma compounds in hops are myrcene, beta-pinene and alpha-humulene. These and other aromatic compounds are also what give cannabis plants their characteristic smell.
The similarities aren’t strictly related to aroma qualities either. The primary alpha-acid responsible for producing the bittering action in hops is humulone, which is a terpenoid. A similar terpenoid is also the primary active ingredient in that dank weed you’ve been smoking as well.

These aromatic compounds are known as terpenes and are found in many plants – although they are most commonly associated with cannabis due to their high concentration. In fact, they are found inside a host of other common plants that are certainly not related to cannabis or hops. For example, lemons have limonene, lavender has linalool, and conifers have pinene, but no one would ever confuse these plants with a hop plant or cannabis.

(excerpt from Beermaverick Chris)