The Emerald Cup is deep into its judging cycle for 2023 as organizers prepare for May’s Award ceremony and we’re back on the solventless team.

We’ve had great access to the contest since 2018. This is my fifth year judging one of the hash categories. While the state has seen some upstart contests making waves in recent years, the two decades of consistently bringing the heat still had The Emerald Cup firmly cemented as the top dog.  

Currently, the judges are meeting once a week to go over the various categories. Edible and flower judges have to stick to the most vigorous schedule. You can smoke all the hash in a day if you party hard enough, but between the hundreds of flower entries and the pace of your metabolism on edibles, it’s easy to understand why some of the categories are referred to as a full-time job. 

High Time’s Jon Cappetta noted on Twitter this past Sunday, it took him three weeks to finish all the flower samples. He also said it was a gauntlet that he was glad was over. 

For better or worse, the cup tends to prove as a launching point for a lot of ideas within the game. That goes from everything from new flavors to hardware. The ideology there is if you can pull it off out of the gate at the cup, the wind will be in your sails as you enter the market. 

But if you go all in for the cup without consistency in the product that hits the market after, the win isn’t worth much. There are plenty of brands that took the top prize in various categories that were never to be heard from again after the win. Maybe they just couldn’t scale up, maybe they entered white label they couldn’t grow themselves. 

L.A. Weekly is back on the solventless team to help judge some of the best concentrates, or hash, on the planet. The reason The Emerald Cup’s hash categories are home to some of the best terps from around the globe is the quality of material California extractors have access to, this goes for both the solventless and hydrocarbon categories. 20230416 182748

Hash is one of the places we see the new ideas we mentioned before. Every year there are experimental consistencies, especially in the personal use category. This is one of the places where the most important lesson of all is terps over tech. If the material you are using to make the hash isn’t that good, you’ll never be able to compete with the top of the food chain, regardless of how pretty you’re able to make it look.

The kit I’m using to judge this year is essentially the same as last year with a few upgrades and additions. Most notable is the new hitman rig, it hits a bit smoother than the mini beaker I was using last year. Also, all the quartz I’m using to judge this year was made in Los Angeles by Alien Flower Monkey Glass. Puffco also released the Proxy since last year. It’s great for water hash, so that will help speed the process up for judging water hashes this year. 

I’ve focused on the rosin and personal use categories so far. I’m currently in The Canary Islands judging flowers at The Canary Islands Champions Cup and couldn’t bring the entries with me, so I wanted to make sure I had solid notes for the meeting I’ll do with the other judges while I’m here. When I get back to America, I’ll bust through the water hash entries in a day or two, since it’s the smallest category with about a dozen entries. On the other hand, Rosin has 42 entries and personal use has 13.

Most of the entries are either fresh-pressed or a cold-cured batter. The fresh-pressed is glorious looking and tastes bomb, but the market is moving more toward the shelf stability of cold-cured rosin. This could definitely be seen this year with the number of fresh-pressed entries way down, but a couple of them are still bangers. 

We’ll share all the winners with you next month when they are announced. 

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