This past weekend, the second edition of the Transbay Challenge hosted some of the biggest names in the hash world competing for midsummer bragging rights.
I originally started the Transbay Challenge as a one-day flower contest. The core ethos of the contest model was to make it different enough so that none of the people doing the big events thought I was trying to step on their toes and wouldn’t let me cover their stuff. The one-day battle royale with a limited number of entries and judges was perfect.
IC Collective would win the original installment with Ziablo two years ago. Now, the Transbay Challenge is back and its first hash edition was on Saturday. Just like the original, the lineup of contestants and judges was packed with some of the industry’s best minds.
Jon Cappetta, High Times VP of Content, weighed in from the BHO judges’ perspective.
“The Transbay challenge was exactly what the doctor ordered for so many of us that have been yearning for that communal feeling we’ve been missing the past 16(ish) months,” Cappetta said of the experience. “I can’t speak for the solventless team, but the BHO judging was a real treat – it was clear only the most elite were invited to compete in this event and boy did they deliver.”
Cappetta noted honorable mentions are in order for Humboldt Terp Council, Get Globs and Your Highness, who he felt each brought elite terps that even the most seasoned connoisseur would be impressed by. But only one could reign supreme.
“I’m firm in my belief that the Royal Key was miles above the rest of the competition, and our squad of judges were all in agreement on this one. So rest assured, those waiting for the results are going to be excited about what’s in store for them,” Cappetta said. “Shouts are also due to all the heavy hitters who pulled up to support this clearly culturally significant extravaganza – it’s clear the Bay’s excited about this series.”
Royal Key Organics founder Josh Vert was hyped to take the trophy north to Arcata to add to an already packed trophy shelf. Vert described the contest as Ricky Bobby style.
“If you’re not first, you’re last. It’s ruthless,” he said with a laugh. “I love it.”
Vert explained that years ago, Royal Key pheno hunted the winning Grape Royale. It was even among their earliest offerings that helped put them back on the map in 2017. It was specifically hunted down for making live resin. But the Grape Royale that took home the top prize last night is gone.
The Royal Key team, much like the marketplace, is moving toward things that do better in solventless. Grape Royale was never meant to end up as flowers or in rosin where it’s not commercially viable. So, they recently removed it from their stable of genetics.
With the Transbay Challenge win, it’s essentially the Elton John of terps on its final farewell tour. We asked Vert if there were any regrets about moving away from it now that it was a champion.
“I don’t know. Just wasn’t enough for me to keep it anymore. You gotta sometimes move on from the past history and things like that,” Vert said. “We can always find more live resin.”
There are only a few hundred grams of Grape Royale left in existence and then it’s a wrap. Royal Key is in the midst of a massive pheno hunt to find their next world-famous flavors. We’ll be traveling north in September to see the results.
The solventless lineup was also extremely competitive with both Emerald Cup and High Times Cannabis Cup champions in the mix.
Brian Malin, one of the global thought leaders on organic cannabis, who recently helped the state with its own regulations on the subject, helped judge solventless. Malin was thrilled with the hash, rooftop venue, and the crowd as he and his son Cyrus made their way through the 10 entries.
“It was an awesome collection of hash and humans,” Malin said. “I felt honored to be there and to bring my son to a cannabis community event like that.”
While we here at L.A. Weekly have been Hash and Flowers believers for some time, founder Terry Mines was obviously thrilled to take the top prize against some of the biggest names in solventless hash. This is the first competition the company has ever entered.
“It means a lot. It really does,” Mines said. “It’s that validation. Because hash is really the essence of everything you’ve done in growing the plant. It really is everything you’ve done and to put all the love into that plant comes out in your hash. So for you guys to think that [won], really there is so much appreciation.”
Mines said his team is at the mercy of Mother Nature, but she treated them well last year. As he talked with us about the victory, they were finishing final preparations for the months ahead before the first rain.