An example of Blue Dream from a different Colorado dispensary (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

Best of 2014: Pot critic Jake Browne’s ‘Top 10 strains I smoked this year’

Usually landing your dream job comes with the caveat that you’ll need to quit smoking pot. At least until you pass that pesky drug test. Instead, I spent 2014 packing bowls, vaping and, on occasion, rolling up some of the best marijuana in the world.

I’m still lousy with a joint paper.

I’ve seen the highs ($24.50 grams!) and lows ($14 eighths!!) of a recreational cannabis market that was truly the first of its kind in history. Making the front page of reddit seemed like the highlight of my year back in March. Being profiled by the New York Times (and not sticking my foot in my bong-hole) is something I’ll never forget, mainly because my fiance was sweet enough to have it mounted for Christmas.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but I love reviewing marijuana. When I worked in Dispensary Land (no, out-of-staters, that isn’t an amusement park) I saw far too little of it. I admired the latest strains from afar, usually on a message board or Instagram. Now, I’m constantly seeing what growers across the front range are churning out. Suprise: It’s fire.

I’m still learning from real OGs in the review game like William Breathes, true cannaseurs like The Cannabist’s Ry Prichard and future stars like Max Montrose. And hopefully, with the help of my intrepid editors Ricardo Baca and Aleta Labak, these columns have become slightly more legible as the year rolled on. If not, the fault lies 100 percent with them.

Looking back, there were certainly duds that I wouldn’t touch again with a 10-foot-pipe. That doesn’t mean they’re inherently flawed strains due for exile to “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, but genetics that never reached their full potential. Keeping that in mind, here were my top 10 strains I reviewed in 2014 from shops that I thought nailed it:

Alien Napalm OG (marijuana review)
An example of Alien Napalm OG from Fox Street Wellness (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

10. Alien Napalm OG

Dispensary: Fox St. Wellness
From the review:

If the team at Alien Genetics loves their Alien Kush, consider Alien Napalm their Pablo Neruda ode to it … Rubber and pepper dominate the jar like a bunch of green army men relegated to miniature mess hall duty … I imagine this is what it feels like when your dog eats that stray edible you left on the coffee table.

My friend “Adam” who was entirely too high still catches crap for this review from our friends. If I could exclude the April Cannabis Cup, it was easily the most stoned I’ve seen a person this year. Sure, it was sedative, but I’ve gone back for more since without winding up Disney Princess’ed. Also, I’ve learned that veganic grows just mean less worm poop and other insect byproducts. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Read the full review.

Grape Ape (marijuana review)
An example of Grape Ape from another Colorado dispensary. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

9. Grape Ape

Dispensary: Native Roots
From the review:

There’s the Grape Ape that’s bonkers purple with the occasional flourish of hairs, then there’s the Grape Ape I took home … Deep down I keep finding myself smelling strawberry fruit leather … it’s kind of become my “sleep number” strain

I hoard candy like a kid with strict parents on Halloween, so this Grape Ape was right up my alley. I can still vividly remember the sweetness of a perfectly ripe grape, or the one really good blueberry in the entire plastic container. Even if Murphy Beds for dogs still hasn’t taken off (call me, Serta!), I loved the slightly silly vibe that took over after a few puffs. The guy who made the flip comment about taxes is still one of the most hilariously awkward experiences I’ve ever had in a dispensary. Read the full review.

Red Headed Stranger #14 (marijuana review)
An example of Red Headed Stranger #14 from another Colorado dispensary (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

8. Red Headed Stranger #14

Dispensary: Natural Remedies
From the review:

It’s creamy and packed a decent punch of citrus — almost sweet, like kettlecorn at times … After the second hit, I was floored … An instant flow state … For people who haven’t smoked in a few years and think there’s a certain novelty in buying a Willie Nelson-themed type of pot, start with one hit and hold on.

This was, hands down, one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. I genuinely don’t remember buying it, then got so ripped I lost it somewhere in my house. It’s been almost six months; I suppose I could call off the search party. I’m not sure I stand by my conclusion, though. I’ve been plenty uncomfortable, be it anxiety or coma-stoned, and neither was a concern with the Red Headed Stranger. Read the full review.

bruce-banner-no-3-strain-theory
An example of Bruce Banner #3 from a different Colorado dispensary (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

7. Bruce Banner #3

Dispensary: Lodo Wellness Center
From the review:

It’s the herb you’d get back in the day and immediately feel like your “dude” had shorted you … Strawberry Diesel is lurking in there, ready to pounce on your unsuspecting brain … the perfect bud for the holidays — and tolerating relatives — without giving away your stoner secret.

When we went back and ranked our favorite 25 strain reviews earlier this year, I messed up. Instead of sucking it up and admitting I shouldn’t have smoked some pretty fire looking diesel before bed, I took a bat to Bruce Banner #3 after our amiable make-up. Revisiting it now, there’s a lot of love in there for BB#3 that I somehow missed. While we’re at it, go ahead and dock my Afgoo review a few spots. It’s not even their cut! Read the full review.

Agent Orange marijuana review, Strain Theory
An example of Agent Orange from a different Colorado dispensary (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

6. Agent Orange

Dispensary: Terrapin Care Station
From the review:

I could have just as easily started peeling a Cuties clementine tangerine … it was a lucid and articulate high that should leave you feeling light overall … People are always asking for recommendations for good daytime smoke that won’t knock them out, and this definitely delivers…

Let the record show I haven’t been back to Boulder since. But plenty of people have, as I’ve had more readers tell me they’ve popped in and copped the Agent Orange than any other strain. One of the biggest disappointments of my Amsterdam trip was smoking Tangerine Dream that couldn’t hold a candle to the AO. Still an unfortunate name for exceptional smoke, I’m glad Terrapin is expanding outside of the beer-soaked confines of my neighbor to the north. This also made me pine for the now-defunct trivia night and the sweet championship belt we coveted so. Read the full review.

Jack Flash (marijuana review)
An example of Jack Flash from another Colorado dispensary. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

5. Jack Flash

Dispensary: Frosted Leaf
From the review:

… be on the lookout for a more blood-orange shade of hairs … there are amazing undertones of sweetness and citrus that culminate to almost make it smell like cleaning up old urine … I was talking just a little louder than usual, like my conversations were taking place via cellphone.

It’s rare that I make a trip back for a strain as the wheels of reviewing must continue to turn, but I’ve smoked more of this Jack in the past week than anything else. And no, I’m not into golden showers as some Internet wise-crackers have unkindly suggested. There’s a depth to Jack Flash that makes it palatable for pros and yet accessible for beginners. I only wish I had brought some to HempFest, as it would have made excellent barter. Read the full review.

Headband marijuana review (Strain Theory)
An example of Headband from a different Colorado dispensary (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

4. Headband

Dispensary: The Clinic Colorado
From the review:

Headband is a cross of a high-flying sativa with a pair of heavy indicas. Think the Ultimate Warrior coming off the top rope and landing on Andre the Giant … For me, it’s always that immediate head high that is extremely euphoric and uplifting.

If nothing else, I’ll always have a night like this immortalized in review form that I can remember through the lens of Headband. Or the band of Headband? According to commenter DJ Terpenoid, the name actually comes from the feeling of a music ensemble playing in your brain. So much for my tennis joke, and apologies to John McEnroe and Andre Agassi. For pain management, this was one of the top hybrids of the year. It makes a great doubles partner? Fault! Read the full review.

Gorilla Glue #4 (marijuana review)
An example of Gorilla Glue #4 from another Colorado dispensary. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

3. Gorilla Glue #4

Dispensary: Holistic Life
From the review:

It might as well have been a floating cluster of trichomes … It’s a Christmas tree, but stripped of the bulbous ornaments … With a deep body stone to match a calmer concentration, though, I’m not fiddling with anything or checking tabs.

Again with the feels. This was incredibly personal to write, but that’s what I’ve come to love most about penning these reviews. Gorilla Glue gave me an experience that I’d have been remiss in not addressing. The concept of self-medicating with pot could absolutely be used as some sort of ammo. Who cares? It was some of the best manicured, uniquely bodied, transcendent highs of the year. If I see it on the shelf, I’m buying an eighth. Every time. Read the full review.

Herijuana, a.k.a. Harijuana, Herojuana (marijuana review)
An example of Herijuana, a.k.a. Harijuana, Herojuana, from Colorado dispensary Wellspring Collective. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

2. Herijuana

Dispensary: Wellspring Collective
From the review:

… like beef jerky stored with incense in a box you forgot to unpack when you left the dorms … It’s a head-over-heels kind of high in that I’m flat on my back … This is a strain that gives you a bear hug you don’t want to end.

Whenever I see this review, I hear Peaches and Herb’s “Reuinted” playing in my head. Only it’s to a ’90s commercial for a fast food restaurant I can’t remember. My head is weird. Regardless, this was a strain that I never expected to see on a shelf again, only to be shocked on a random trip down Broadsterdam/The Green Mile. While it may be harder to track down, it’s worth it for the mood elevation alone. What always gets me is the stellar body buzz that leaves you feeling less like “Bernie” for the weekend — dead on the couch — and more like “Casper”, floating around with cheerful spirits. Now, if anyone knows where I can find some good Space Helmet … Read the full review.

Blue Dream marijuana review (Strain Theory)
An example of Blue Dream from a different Colorado dispensary (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

1. Blue Dream

Dispensary: Good Chemistry
From the review:

It would be easy to mistake this for straight Blueberry in a blind smell test with the sweet fruit notes emanating from the bag, but there’s a lingering pine spice that I really enjoy hidden under there. Loading up my one-hitter, I took three pulls of what tasted like the same gum Violet Beauregarde was chewing in the Wonka factory. The high was ideal for keeping me moving while things chilled or rested so the kitchen didn’t look like I had done 100 covers during restaurant week, a frequent fate when I get one of these wild hairs.

One of my earlier reviews, I think I sold both the Blue Dream and the pie short. When asked for my favorite strains, the Dream invariably comes up as a go-to for hybrids that I regularly smoke for business and pleasure. It’s euphoric in a way that is enabling, in that I feel like whatever I want to take on will bend to the will of my high. Where Super Lemon Haze usually earns the nod for my favorite sativa (making the meh sample I reviewed all the more disappointing), the combo of Haze and Blueberry is the perfect balance for me between pain relief and remaining active. The well-developed trichs, boutique cure and discount price made it an easy choice for my favorite strain of 2014. Read the full review.