E43 History of 420 and 420 IPA tasting

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Podcast: The 420 Small Batch episode covering the history of 420, Sweetwater 420 beer tastings, an epic 420 ad fail and a music from Weed.

Another small batch podcast from Home Brew Rock Stars takes a hard hit on the history of 420, with a great 70's story about a group of high school stoners called the Waldos, who frequent an after school adventure into the local Point Reyes Forest in a never-ending search for a secret weed field. They never find their wild bud orchard, but their code word "420", which was the time they would meet after school to get high before this celebrated daily cannabis treasure trip, would become infamous, partially because their 420 slang organically saturated into the culture of the Grateful Dead, as well as High Times Magazine. We've pasted the somewhat redacted Huffington Post story below for your perusal...HAPPY 420!

We sample two delicious craft beers from SweetWater Brewing Co. from their 420 Strain G13. First, the 420 IPA offering a great body, good head and nice amount of haze at a pleasurable 6% ABV with dank hops of Columbus and Simcoe, plus two dry hop additions. Then the 420 Mango Kush, a second sticky hit from 420 Strain that is an American Wheat packed with herbal, juicy mango notes and a distinctive dank nose. #danknevertastedsogood We also sample a wild peche ale from a secret brewery in Lisle, IL that will come to me when that Grape Crusher fades back down. HA!

Finally, we sample some rock n roll from WEED, a German/British project/band which was created by Virus krautrock band + Ken Hensley (from Uriah Heep). They recorded one self-titled album in 1971 with music very similar to Uriah Heep (lots of roaring Hensley's organ and guitar pyrotechnics).

A hearty SQUEAL to Pig Minds Brewing Co. and Artale & Co. for their awesome support and sponsorship! #drinkitup

True Story Of How April 20 Became ‘Weed Day’ [Huffington Post]

The origin of the term 420, celebrated around the world by pot smokers every April 20, has long been obscured by the clouded memories of the folks who made it a phenomenon. Depending on who you ask, or their state of inebriation, there are as many varieties of answers as strains of medical bud in California. It’s the number of active chemicals in marijuana. It’s teatime in Holland. It has something to do with Hitler’s birthday. It’s those numbers in that Bob Dylan song multiplied.

The Huffington Post chased the term back to its roots and was able to find it in a lost patch of cannabis in a Point Reyes, California forest. Just as interesting as its origin, it turns out, is how it spread. It starts with the Grateful Dead.

It was Christmas week in Oakland, 1990. Steven Bloom was wandering through The Lot - that timeless gathering of hippies that springs up in the parking lot before every Grateful Dead concert - when a Deadhead handed him a yellow flyer.

“We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais,” reads the message, which Bloom dug up and forwarded to the Huffington Post. Bloom, then a reporter for High Times magazine and now the publisher of CelebStoner.com and co-author of Pot Culture, had never heard of “420-ing” before.

The flyer came complete with a 420 back story: “420 started somewhere in San Rafael, California in the late ‘70s. It started as the police code for Marijuana Smoking in Progress. After local heads heard of the police call, they started using the expression 420 when referring to herb - Let’s Go 420, dude!”

Bloom reported his find in the May 1991 issue of High Times, which the magazine found in its archives and provided to the Huffington Post. The story, though, was only partially right. It had nothing to do with a police code — ironically, the San Rafael part was dead on. Indeed, a group of five San Rafael High School friends known as the Waldos - by virtue of their chosen hang-out spot, a wall outside the school - coined the term in 1971. The Huffington Post spoke with Waldo Steve, Waldo Dave and Dave’s older brother, Patrick, and confirmed their full names and identities, which they asked to keep secret for professional reasons. (Pot is still, after all, illegal at this time)

The Waldos never envisioned that pot smokers the world over would celebrate each April 20th as a result of their foray into the Point Reyes forest. The day has managed to become something of a national holiday in the face of official condemnation. The code often creeps into popular culture and mainstream settings. Nearly all of the clocks in the pawn shop scene in “Pulp Fiction,” for instance, are set to 4:20. In 2003, when the California legislature codified the medical marijuana law voters had approved, the bill was named SB420.

The code pops up in Craig’s List postings when fellow smokers search for “420 friendly” roommates. “It’s just a vaguer way of saying it and it kind of makes it kind of cool,” says Bloom. “Like, you know you’re in the know, but that does show you how it’s in the mainstream.”

The Waldos do have proof, however, that they used the term in the early ‘70s in the form of an old 420 flag and numerous letters with 420 references and early ‘70s post marks. They also have a story. It goes like this: One day in the Fall of 1971 - harvest time - the Waldos got word of a Coast Guard service member who could no longer tend his plot of marijuana plants near the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard station. A treasure map in hand, the Waldos decided to pluck some of this free bud.

The Waldos were all athletes and agreed to meet at the statue of Louis Pasteur outside the school at 4:20, after practice, to begin the hunt. Waldo Steve tells it, “We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis and we eventually dropped the Louis,”

The first forays out were unsuccessful, but the group kept looking for the hidden crop. “We’d meet at 4:20 and get in my old ‘66 Chevy Impala and, of course, we’d smoke instantly and smoke all the way out to Pt. Reyes and smoke the entire time we were out there. We did it week after week,” says Steve. “We never actually found the patch.”

But they did find a useful codeword. “I could say to one of my friends, I’d go, 420, and it was telepathic. He would know if I was saying, ‘Hey, do you wanna go smoke some?’ Or, ‘Do you have any?’ Or, ‘Are you stoned right now?’ It was kind of telepathic just from the way you said it,” Steve says. “Our teachers didn’t know what we were talking about. Our parents didn’t know what we were talking about.”

It’s one thing to identify the origin of the term. Indeed, Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary already include references to the Waldos. The bigger question: How did 420 spread from a circle of California stoners across the globe? BEER BREAK>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

As fortune would have it, the collapse of San Francisco’s hippie utopia in the late ‘60s set the stage. As speed freaks, thugs and con artists took over The Haight, the Grateful Dead picked up and moved to the Marin County hills - just blocks from San Rafael High School. “Marin Country was kind of ground zero for the counter culture,” says Steve.

The Waldos had more than just a geographic connection to the Dead. Mark Waldo’s father took care of real estate for the Dead. And Waldo Dave’s older brother, Patrick, managed a Dead sideband and was good friends with bassist Phil Lesh. Patrick smoked with Lesh on numerous occasions. He couldn’t recall if he used the term 420 around him, but guessed that he must have.

The Dead, recalls Waldo Dave Reddix, “had this rehearsal hall on Front Street, San Rafael, California, and they used to practice there. So we used to go hang out and listen to them play music and get high while they’re practicing for gigs. But I think it’s possible my brother Patrick might have spread it through Phil Lesh. And me, too, because I was hanging out with Lesh and his band [as a roadie] when they were doing a summer tour my brother was managing.”

The Waldos also had open access to Dead parties and rehearsals. “We’d go with [Mark’s] dad, who was a hip dad from the ‘60s,” says Steve. “There was a place called Winterland and we’d always be backstage running around or onstage and, of course, we’re using those phrases. When somebody passes a joint or something, ‘Hey, 420.’ So it started spreading through that community.”

As the Grateful Dead toured the globe through the ‘70s and ‘80s, playing hundreds of shows a year - the term spread though the Dead underground. Once High Times got hip to it, the magazine helped take it global. Sometime in the early ‘90s, High Times wisely purchased the web domain 420.com.

The Waldos say that within a few years the term had spread throughout San Rafael and was cropping up elsewhere in the state. By the early ‘90s, it had penetrated deep enough that Dave and Steve started hearing people use it in unexpected places - Ohio, Florida, Canada - and spotted it painted on signs and etched into park benches.

In 1997, the Waldos decided to set the record straight and got in touch with High Times. “They said, ‘The fact is, there is no 420 [police] code in California. You guys ever look it up?’” Blooms recalls. He had to admit that no, he had never looked it up. Hager flew out to San Rafael, met the Waldos, examined their evidence, spoke with others in town, and concluded they were telling the truth.

Hager still believes them. “No one’s ever been able to come up with any use of 420 that predates the 1971 usage, which they had established. So unless somebody can come up with something that predates them, then I don’t think anybody’s going to get credit for it other than them,” he says.

“We never made a dime on the thing,” says Waldo Dave, but he does take pride in his role, though. “I still have a lot of friends who tell their friends that they know one of the guys that started the 420 thing. So it’s kind of like a cult celebrity thing. Two years ago I went to the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. High Times magazine flew me out,” says Dave.

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