[all photos by Barge except Bluebird Charas, Nice Nugs, and Psychoactive Plants, by Jason King]
Seed Breeder Steve reports on the smoke and seeds scene in Amsterdam at the High Times Cannabis Cup.
Happy Holland, Sad Hydro?
It is a great responsibility to report findings one week a year from the world cannabis genetics forum in Amsterdam. I approach the task with gusto and train all year round. I keep my tolerance high and my palate adjusted, so that the outstanding cannabis I cross paths with stands out from the other 95% that I slam.
Holland makes me happy. So civilized, even if it’s not perfect. Canada’s not bad either; good from afar, but far from good. At least as the laws go, the herb’s another story.
The main problem with Dutch herb is overfertilization. It won’t burn to a clean, grey ash the way it should. The joints tend to need relighting and burn to black chunkies. No wonder they add more tobacco than pot; that’s the only way it will burn. Needless to say, I didn’t smoke their hydro for the whole week. It was mostly NL#5xHaze and White Widow varietal entries from every shop anyhow.
The lack of variety made sampling most of the entries uninteresting, unless you enjoy underdeveloped, overfertilized (unleached), poorly cured, commercial hydro. However, I enjoyed judging the hash entries and finding palatable organic bud.
Bio or Organic?
“Bio” is the Dutch term given to all soil grown pot. It does not necessarily mean organically grown as we tend to think of it in North America. If you grow in peat moss and feed it salts it is not “organic” but it would qualify as “bio”.
The best organic pot at the Cup was grown in Amerikkka. Hawaiian, Oregonian, Washingtonian and NY were in full effect. Kudos, you know who you are. I was in the right place at the right time, which is about the only way you get real good Hawaiian. Someone passed it to Ed, who passed it to me.
NY, Peacemaker, Dutch Flowers
Special mention to the NY hash. It tasted like my BC breakfast, similar to the C-5, the winning nederhash from de Dampkring, and Sticky Eyes from Dutch Flowers. De Dampkring’s bio entry, Peacemaker, was a decent choice, although not a head above the rest by any means. A fitting name though; you couldn’t hold a grudge or feel grumpy after a good spliff of it.
I didn’t stop in at de Dampkring this year, it was my favourite last year, but I was on a tight schedule. I like their sister shop beside Dutch Flowers, Twede Kamer, so I picked up some Tbisla while close by, the foreign hash entry of de Dampkring. Beautiful. I grabbed some Caramella as well, an old favourite, really delicious like caramel. They had an unentered bud called Red Dwarf that was the closest to fruity of any Dutch herb.
Dutch Flowers had suitable entries, I recommend a visit for their nederhash, black or blonde. I was looking for something to knock me off my bicyclette, a rental-mental with a basket of cases to judge.
The Life Cycle
Cycling is the only way to check out a lot of shops in a little time. You’d be amazed at how small the town really is. Fast is fun. I went cruising around at all hours. Around 3am to 5am the streets are empty. A canal bridge is the biggest hill in Amsterdam. Excellent lanes and planning facilitate bicycles, even at the height of rush hour. It’s not as crazy as it looks. Do it.
Nothing dropped me, not even a tram or a taxi, although a friend was a little sore after cruising in line with a tram-track and wiping out at high speed. Those wet steel grooves want to pinch your wheel, so always cross them at a broad angle. Especially late at night after partying at the Melkweg.
Bluebird of Hashiness
No mention of Amsterdam and hash would be complete without accolades for the Bluebird. They know real hash! The rare without compare, Mazar-i-Sharif. An Afi original, great with a little tobaccy. Malana and Nepalese Creams, rich charas of distinction. They were completely representative of their respective regional flavours; very good examples. I’ve been going there since my teens.
The Soma Skunk they had was smooth and burned, that counts for something. I also couldn’t resist a piece of their super red Lebanese, just for the cedary taste of it. Red and earthy, like PEI.
This man loves tasting hash, because of all the flavours! I only get reeling from the best nederhash, because that is roughly as good as what I smoke daily at home. Less is more. No burning fibre. One hit shit for most, a few more for the rest of us. A lot easier on the lungs than burning big phat blunts. Not that I don’t love rolling big gaggers, but refinement is civility.
Excellent Nepalese & Sizzling Mist
Vincent at Chocolata, and the owners and staff of the Rokerij (roker-i) both deserve an honourable mention for their excellent Nepalese. The Rokerij is big and has a fine herb atmosphere as well.
Lucky Mothers is always pleasing, I’m attached to their Nepalese polm. Their White Mist was fairly well grown, although still too generic to generate much interest. I rolled a nice cone of their bricked Thai to smoke walking home. I nearly cried when it started doing the super-phosphate sizzle halfway through.
Passionate Fantasy Haze
Homegrown Fantasy has some good herb. I love their Haze, who doesn’t? A surprise recommendation from a local for a knockout indica was their Buddha. Piney bud, with a bit of a bite (I was warned), it put me in the zone better than their entries. I was converted.
Dutch Passion Seed Co is largely responsible for Homegrown’s strains; however personal differences have arisen and Fanta Seeds has emerged through Homegrown Fantasy, doing largely Dutch Passion knockoffs. A common story in this seed(y) business.
The Dutch Passion version of Blueberry was well enough grown to make me happy to smoke herb again.
Gummy Buds & Maple Leaf
The Grey Area has really nice organic bud. The Double Bubble and the Bubblelite left a nice gummy taste on my lips, I was smackin’ ’em. Their hydro entry, Yellow Cab, was a popular contender. I enjoyed a few bong hits of it followed by some delicious New York hash from a bong-loading fellow customer (hey, judging was over). Sole Hash ? it was a shoe in. It was made from NL#5xHaze he had bought last year from Sensi Seeds.
Speaking of Sensi Seeds, you should consider their new Maple Leaf Indica; better yield and quality than Big Bud apparently. “The leaf looks like your flag,” if that’s what you’re looking for?
One of their top breeders gave I&I a nice gooey little piece of Jack Herer rub gum, that hit the spot. I dropped into their coffee shop to do some anonymous testing, and was surprised to find 8-10 seeds per gram. I didn’t see any signs of hermaphrodism, hmmmmm?. Respect, Sensi Seeds is a standard bearer. They still deserve thanks for past accomplishments. Don’t count them out of the future, either.
Paradise, Brains, Meila
Luke of Paradise Seeds got my vote for best booth. This year and last he packed us bowls of clean trichome heads. His Sensi Star is frosty, stony bud. The Dragon is huge, I saw all of his strains at eight weeks live, the Dragon was still growing and is going to be a massive bud. The Sensi Star and Amsterdam Flame was ready. Check out his seeds.
KC Brains has some original stuff as well, check them out. They’ve always been kind enough to give their outdoor to me with apologies for it not being the bigger bud. Their generous portions always smoked well. Thank You KC, I’m going to check your Leda Uno for early outdoors.
You must visit the old Positronics building where Meila is now set up. She knows more about organic growing in polyurethane foam than anyone I’ve met. She is also an excellent hash expert, find out what’s knew, or rediscovered in the world of screening, cleaning, pressing, or curing good hash. You’ll be glad you did.
No Laughing Matter
Pax Party House had the second floor well appointed for entertaining this year. The Press Dinner the second night was excellent, thank you again. It is a reassuring pleasure to hear Stephen Gaskin speak. You are the head-on-the-farm. The guy doing the High Times Radio Hour was quite amusing, as he was also toasted.
I and several other guests were a little irate at the end of the week when paranoid High Times freaks shut down the laughing gas! I arrived late the last day with anticipation, and was told that they were closed. DJ Short and I bellowed, “Who shut you down?!” We couldn’t believe it. What’s the problem? It’s legal, easy on the throat, a fantastic buzz, what’s the big idea?! What have we learned about tolerance?
Real People, Nice Guy
All the parties rocked, because the music was real and so were the people. The Cannabis Cup is the greatest celebration of the herb on this planet. The HT band was cooking, and Rita Marley took to the stage the night Bob Marley was inducted to the Cannabis Hall of Fame. Yes, Bob is the first person inducted. His family and friends came to dance, puff, and give thanks. It was incredible.
I even met UK smuggler turned activist Howard Marks, that blew my mind. Read his book, Mr Nice Guy. This man is indomitable. He deserves every kindness and complete respect.
The Green House is a special case. Although very popular with High Times readers (and writers), many of the Dutch have mixed feelings about them. Major complaints, such as, “He buys the Cup” can be dismissed as sour grapes from sore losers. Envy and resentment are ugly. Maybe the losers had poor promotions or generosity was lacking in their samples.
While I don’t believe the Green House had exceptional herb or hash, it has friendly staff and an excellent atmosphere. I like their ashtrays, too. Some of their bud wouldn’t burn, and their Maroc Hash, King Hassan’s Supreme, wasn’t even in the top ten of imported hash in my opinion. However, it all came cheap and plentiful.
Green House has the draw and a cheap, large sample kit. Their Bio entry, White Shark, apparently ripped some Judge’s stomach out. I didn’t think it was a killer, more of a plain jane. Green House wins because of their generosity and because most of the judges aren’t very educated or thorough. A prominent Dutch hash dealer insisted the King Hassan’s was cut with sheep’s fat. Anyone care to analyze?
White House, the Green House Nederhash entry, was actually fairly green and disappointing. It must have taken quite a press to make all that shake stick together. Personally, I was disappointed by the Green House entries this year. I will still check them out however, as they are a force to be recognized in that town. They’ve got great strategy and staff, although a better product would break the McDonald’s Syndrome. As a wise man once said, “All that glitters not gold.”
Congratulations to everyone who entered or came, you’re all winners. The Cup Rocks!