Why Colorado Tokers Love Snowcap

Snowcap carries a blizzard of trichomes on its back.
Snowcap carries a blizzard of trichomes on its back.
Herbert Fuego
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A few small dustings notwithstanding, snow has been seriously lacking in Denver this year. Not willing to fly to Miami or drive to Aspen for a taste of the white stuff in which those ritzy towns indulge, I looked for the classic cannabis version, Snowcap, at local dispensaries. After some searching, I finally found it. Like a heavyweight champion from the ’60s, Snowcap — with a strength and trichome production that made it famous — has been passed over for newer, more potent strains, but it’s still not to be trifled with.

The hybrid strain can lean either way depending on the cut, and its mystery lineage makes it even harder to identify. Most accounts list Snowcap’s parents as an unknown Haze phenotype and Humboldt Snow, an indica from Northern California with Afghani genetics. Haze strains, which are known for their strong, spacey highs, can make for a mean sativa; pair it with Humboldt’s melting Afghani characteristics, and you’re in for a roulette wheel of stoney effects. One cut can produce an energizing and uplifting high with intense focus, while another can make you drown in aloof relaxation. For these reasons, it’s best to ask your budtender or dealer which way a specific version leans.

Snowcap represents a beautiful point in pot evolution. It became popular in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and its qualities — sticky, green and resin-glazed buds with compact calyxes — mirror what you’ll hear some of your favorite rappers say about the music of that time. Now bypassed by sugar-coated Cookies strains and such THC monsters as Gorilla Glue and Ghost Train Haze, Snowcap has taken a back seat, but it still has model looks and packs a mean hit.

Silver Stem Fine Cannabis is the main purveyor of Snowcap in Denver, selling it at its five metro dispensaries and other Colorado stores under the Willie’s Reserve brand. Silver Stem’s cut is a little heavy on the pistils, but its trichomes and cloudy high make this powerful hybrid worth keeping for a snowstorm...if we ever get one.

Looks: Although surpassed by more modern strains, Snowcap’s trichome coverage is still up there with the best. Oily, opaque resin glands and rusty pistils cover round, compact forest-green buds for a classic chronic look.

Smell: Snowcap’s smell has led some to believe that it contains Jack Herer or Bruce Banner genetics. It starts with piney, sour notes of lemon and soil, and finishes with sweet, hash-y scents.

Flavor: As with Snowcap’s smell, pine and lemon flavors are heavy up front, but sweet tastes of hash and bubble gum begin to take hold after your tongue gets used to the citrus shock.

Effects: Snowcap’s effects depend on where you got the strain, but they usually start with a euphoric uplift, little focus and a sharp increase in appetite, followed by a blanket of relaxation. The cloudy effects make it good for anxiety, stress and exhaustion.

Home grower’s take: “Used to get clones of these a lot easier seven or eight years ago, but I had a round of it in my basement about eight months ago. It takes a while, like seventy days, to flower, and every day is nerve-racking if you live somewhere humid, because [powdery mildew] can really fuck this — I’ve lost a harvest because of that. Up here in Colorado, where it’s dry, though, there shouldn’t be much worry. Yield is okay, but when you factor in the two extra weeks it takes for flowering, they’re pretty mediocre. Still a good-tasting strain; worth the time if you like hybrids.”

Commercial grower’s take: “This was a favorite of mine when I went to college in Southern California. It takes too long for most indoor grows to want to do it, but that’s probably why it does so well in the outdoor grows in Northern California. Could be more popular in southern Colorado, where outdoor grows are more popular. Haze and indica makes for a shit-wreck high, and that’s what Snowcap does to everyone.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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