Earlier this month, I decided that eating inside a restaurant and risking COVID-19 was safer than eating outside and breathing Denver's dangerous air. While trying to nail a putt for a double bogey in 95-degree heat two weeks ago, I thought I saw snow falling on the grass. It was ash. Last week, real snow fell as the state continued to burn. Did hell freeze over? Was Game of Thrones coming to life? Nope. Just a Tuesday in 2020.
Until the smoke clears outside, I'll be spending most of my time at home, puffing and continuing my Chemdog streak. After tackling Passion Orange Guava, I-95 and Trix, I decided to take on an older, less famous member of the family, Guava Chem. With a name and genetics similar to several Chemdog and Stardawg strains from Top Dawg Genetics and elsewhere, Guava Chem (also known as Guava Dawg) hasn't received the same fanfare as Stardawg Guava or the myriad Chem strains ranging from Chem #4 to Chem De La Chem. After spotting it at three respected dispensaries, though, I thought that Guava Chem's time to shine might finally have come.
A disputed mix of Tres Dawg and Chem #4 and possibly Afghani or Stardawg, Guava Chem is an easy candidate for the multiple-personality strain list. Users report the high being everything from sexually arousing to short-lived euphoria to extremely social. Not only are the effects harder to predict, but Guava Chem's flavor profile seemed to bounce around the scale every time I smelled or smoked it, running the spectrum of gasoline, pine, strawberries and tropical fruit, but rarely all at once. That's why strain's murky origin story makes even more sense. But are the different family trees merely a product of Guava Chem's wide-ranging reputation, or the reason that it affects so many people so differently?
Considering the vast differences among strains bearing the same name across Denver, I'll assume it's the former, and no worse than the varying qualities you'll see in ten different cuts of Wedding Cake around town right now. A week of smoking Guava Chem showed me that the high was actually rather easy to predict; it just had more phases than most, shoving me through stages of ecstasy, focus, hunger and curiosity inside of two hours, with most of the cloudy stoned effects tailing off within the first 45 minutes. Not the best high for someone trying to conserve buds, but a fun bungee jump for anyone looking to puff and go.
Fox Cannabis, High Level Health, L'Eagle, Medicine Man and Options Medical Center have all carried Guava Chem recently. I don't see Colorado enjoying the ride enough for the strain to survive 2020 — but to be fair, none of us might.
Looks: Typically olive green in color with occasional purple spots, Guava Chem looks much like Stardawg and other older Chem strains, and can foxtail to the point of almost looking like a clover.
Smell: With so many different traits involved, some versions of Guava Chem don't bring a lot of fruit aspects, while others smell like a glass of juice. Most of the time, though, the most dominant trait is a tropical, soapy hint of fruit followed by a resinous touch of pine and a subtle yet lasting fume-y back end.
Flavor: If you get it at the right time, properly cured Guava Chem buds carry a juicy blend of fruity and old-school Chem aspects. Drier versions tend to flip-flop, with juniper and gassy flavors hitting first, coating the tongue before quiet notes of passion fruit and sugar-coated strawberries creep in.
Effects: Almost like an edible high, Guava Chem took me through peaks and valleys, providing something of an out-of-body experience for twenty minutes before transitioning into a clearer, chatty buzz that was much less euphoric but made it easier to function.
Is there a strain you'd like to see profiled? Email email@example.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.