Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Oddbits…Morphine beer? Homebrewer busted in Santa Cruz, Oktoberfest in Oakland, Bistro Wet Hop Fest…

By William Brand
Monday, September 22nd, 2008 at 1:40 pm in Uncategorized.

OK, now I’ve seen everything… check out this story by Jennifer Squires in the Santa Cruz Sentinel: Homebrewer in Santa Cruz busted for making “morphine beer.” Damn, homebrewers are a creative lot, aren’t they.

SANTA CRUZ — Police raided a Westside house Friday morning where they suspected people were producing opiates and arrested a UC Santa Cruz doctoral candidate who said he used dried poppy pods to flavor home-brewed beer a month ago.

“All I did was make a poppy beer,” said Chad Renzelman, 28, who was arrested at his Bay Street home Friday. “I spent all morning in jail for brewing beer. I had no idea what I was doing was illegal.”

But police reported that Renzelman, who studies chemistry, allegedly had used a chemical process to extract opium from poppy plant pods, then converted the opium to morphine.

Morphine is the active opiate in heroin.

Police reported finding a pressurized canister of homemade beer laced with morphine in Renzelman’s garage, as well as lab equipment contaminated with opium alkaloids and other hazardous chemicals….READ THE REST OF THE STORY


  • Oktoberfest in Oakland? Yes. Julie Johnson, a member of the Dimond Improvement Association, says the association is sponsoring its first annual Oktoberfest celebration Oct 4., 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at MacArthur and Fruitvale in the heart of the historic Dimond District. Julie points out that the area has a big German heritage and at one point early in the 20th Century  boasted four beer gardens. Here’s an historical link.

She wasn’t sure what beers will be served, but is checking. I recommended Linden Street Brewery, of course.  There’s also going to be a homebrew contest.

  • Oct. 4, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., annual Wet Hop Beer Fest, Bistro, 1001 B. St., Hayward. This is a beauty of a festival; beers are made with just-harvested hops. Some brewers go to elaborate lengths, trucking in hops from the Washington hop fields minutes after harvest. Others, like the esteemed curmudgeon-brewer Brian Hunt, Moonlight Brewing, grow hops in front of their brewery.

OOPS,  wrong castle. Don’t know if Queen Elizabeth is a real ale lover like her son, Prince Charles, but the royal family was less than pleased the other day when 12 barrels of lager arrived at Windsor Castle.  They were destined for The Windsor Castle Pub, a few miles ago. The pub was stocking up for England’s football match with Croatia

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  • Michael

    poppy, california’s state flower.
    i’m not an expert, and news articles can be be misleading….
    but they said they found morphine laced beer countainers.

    you can get a false positive result for opiates from eating poppys.

    i accidently smoked opium recently after having one to many redtails.
    screw that. that was not fun. thats the first and last time.

  • The Duke Of Dunkel

    Yup. Beer leads to heroin.

  • Stuart

    Brian Hunt was outstanding in a recent podcast of a wine podcast called Mouthful. It was the one from September 7

  • Mario (Brewed For Thought)

    Bill, morphine beer and you’ve seen it all. Accidentally smoking opium, now I’ve heard it all.

    As for a poppy brew, I’d imagine the key is whether he actively extracted the alkaloids from the poppy. Reading the article it sounds like he’s telling the truth. I like the idea of cops digging through his compost pile for spent grains. As a co-op member he should know better and use that grain in a bread recipe.

    Finally, his sanitation is appalling. Who has dirty homebrew equipment from over a month ago? Remind me not to drink any of Chad’s beer.

    I’m off to buy a 6-pack of pressurized canisters of manufactured beer.

  • William Brand

    Hell, and I thought beer leads to more beer…

  • easong

    There’s a big difference between the Golden State flower and the opium poppy, a south Asian beauty which produces purple flowers on long robust stems. Speaking as an organic chemist, while there are similar “alkaloids” in both plants, including their seed pods, you just ain’t gonna get opium from any amount of California poppy.

    Now the chemist implicated here is indeed working in a research lab at UCSC where he might be capable of turning opium into morphene, so if he has Asian poppy parts around then more than his mashed malt is in hot water. But if he’s been using California seeds to make his own Poppy Jasper, he needs to get a lawyer and sue for false imprisonment.

  • Mario (Brewed For Thought)

    He’s part of a co-op in Santa Cruz! Obviously the guy is trying to get high. Big deal. Did he sell it to kids? Did someone die? I don’t see the point of wasting public resources in this case. They used hazmat suits to clean up a compost pile. What’s wrong with a shovel and a trash bag?