SN&R marijuana expert Ngaio Bealum’s favorite strains of the year

SN&R's pot expert Ngaio Bealum on his favorite strains from the past year

Photo by Darin Bradford

I smoked a bunch of weed this year. I don't mean in the usual “I’m a stoner. I smoke weed. Duh.” kind of way. I mean in the “Oh my goodness, I have been invited to be a judge at two cannabis competitions. I need to step my game up.” kind of way.

This is going to sound odd, and I sometimes giggle at the thought, but it’s a bit of a strange feeling when you have to smoke weed for your job. Like, for real. Testing 60 different strains in a week (as I did at the Denver High Times Cannabis Cup) or more than 200 strains in a month (see the Emerald Cup Outdoor Organic Cannabis Competition) was a tough, but great, gig. It did wonders for my palate—and my tolerance levels.

But enough humble-bragging. In no particular order, these are my favorite strains from 2015:


This citrus flavored bit of deliciousness is a cross between Cali-O (a mid-’90s strain that didn’t get much love, for some reason) and Skunk. It smells like tangerines and tastes like a citrus punch. Good sativa. Excellent for daytime.

Granddaddy Purple

Old-school purple indica with a heavy narcotic feel. Great “purple” flavor, especially when grown right. Excellent for pain relief and naps.

Blueberry Cookies

Kinda the best of both worlds. Super-sweet blueberry inhale, then a nice, rich, slightly coffee flavored exhale. Very balanced effects. I liked this one so much I chose it as the feature flavor when I joined the High Life team of chronnoisseurs.


I thought this weed was named “Yeager,” after the dude that grew it, but it turns out that it was named “Jaeger” because it does indeed taste like Jägermeister. The folks at Jägermeister weren’t pleased, however, and after a few cease-and-desists went around, folks decided to change the spelling to “Yayger.” Now, everyone seems to be happy about it. Found primarily in southern Oregon, this hearty outdoor does indeed taste like its namesake liqueur: spicy and savory, with a great happy buzz that will have you smiling like a hippie at the Oregon Country Fair. One of my all-time favorite strains.

Purple Candy Cane

This weed was so good—it won third place in the 2015 Emerald Cup—that I had to track down the grower. He told me that this plant was an especially tasty phenotype he found after growing some random seeds, so I don’t really know the genetic background. But it smells like limes and tastes like candy; very sweet on the tongue and in the air. The effects are uplifting but not overpowering. This strain is hard to find, but worth the hunt.


Another tasty Oregon creation. (IMHO, California and Oregon are smashing the game right now. Colorado, not so much—although I have smoked some nice “head stash,” the commercial cannabis has a ways to go.) This strain from near the Roseburg area, Omega Frost from Rogue Bud farms ( is spicy and fruity with a smooth high.

BOG'S Cherry Spice Sour Bubble

The “Bushy Old Grower” has been on the California scene for more than 20 years. His Sour Bubble strain is damn near legendary. The Cherry Spice SB was a one-off from a really nice Sour Bubble cut. Tastes like cherries and bubble gum. Indica, but not too heavy.

Cherry Limeade No. 6

This strain was my pick in the Emerald Cup. It was purple, tangy and super nice. It didn’t win the big prize—an unnumbered Cherry Limeade from the same grower ended up winning, but whatevs—yet it won my heart with its pleasant aroma and comfortable buzz.

Nonsolvent hash

Sure, butane-hash oil is cool. But give me a nice cold water, or some sort of dry sift, extraction and I am a happy stoner. Plus, no danger of explosions. A little dab’ll do ya.

Whatever you are smoking right now

We are fortunate to live on the West Coast. We have access to all kinds of marijuana and marijuana accessories. We are more than a little bit spoiled when you think about the good people in Kansas and Idaho that don’t even get to see weed like this. Enjoy what you have, my friends.