If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s the fact this year sucked. If there’s one thing we don’t all agree on (besides politics) is which strains were the best strains of 2020. The year wasn’t all bad, 2020 provided ample opportunity to partake in my favorite activity—smoking weed.
Being a certified sommelier and be the founder of a cannabis delivery business is a pretty charmed life, not gonna lie. While working as the buyer for Flowsent (based in Oakland) I was not only able to see new products from all the distributors, but also had visibility into buying trends, new strains, consumer preferences and who was growing what. This year’s list leans toward strains that helped with reducing anxiety and depression. When thinking about the best strains of 2020 I narrowed the criteria down to:
When assessing value in your cannabis flower it’s great to look at the colors and frost all over those nugs. One element that’s often overlooked is the cure and trim job. Top shelf jars sell for around $55 (give or take) in the bay area.
A well cured jar will have nugs that are almost dry. They should have a small amount of moisture, and the trim should be precisely manicured like your grandpa’s hedges.
Looking at nug porn on Instagram can be a bit frustrating. Every day I see gorgeous nugs of rare strains no one can seem to get. I had to stop following Jungle Boys for that reason.
This year’s list honors cultivators who are able to scale up their production without sacrificing quality.
There’s no shortage of amazing weed in California. We are truly blessed with amazing growing regions like the Emerald Triangle, but we have growers who help each other get better and share quality genetics. OG Kush anyone?
This year’s list looks for new, fresh ideas in hybrid crosses and/or landrace strains that nailed it.
Cannabis Appellations - In early 2021 California will begin naming official cannabis growing appellations. Read more about proposed appellations in Northern California.
The 22 Best Strains of 2020
22. Georgia Pie (outdoor grown) – Cookies
When Georgia Pie indoor flower hit the streets it was right after quaratine started but before the George Floyd/Black Lives Matters protests. That moment in history was stressful and anxiety was high. People went nuts for this Seed Junkies bred strain that was almost too potent even for seasoned cannabis enthusiasts.
Shortly after the indoor flower was released, outdoor grown Georgia Pie came out and was available for around $30/eighth in the bay area. Heavenly aromas of peach cobbler causes an involuntary drooling. Georgia Pie is especially effective in treating pain and anxiety.
21. Lemon Royale (mixed light) – Sovereign
Perennial Cannabis Cup winning cultivator, Sovereign has been quietly hand crafting consistent top shelf flower for years. Early in 2020 they introduced mixed light strains to the market including Phish OG and Lemon Royale.
For about $35/eigth there’s a ton of value in the jar. This Lemon Tree x GMO/Triangle Kush cross is relaxing and uplifting without being heavy handed. It was especially effective at relieving anxiety, which seemed to be a common symptom this year.
photo by Fog City Flower Fanatic
20. Cream de Menthe – Alien Labs
According to the Alien Labs team, people give them random seeds all the time. In this case, the seeds came from a bag with the part of the original genetic line rubbed off, so they know it’s Kush Mints x something, and Kush Mints is generally banging.
In addition to that, it’s proved a fantastic ingredient in some wild pot over the last few years. When Alien Labs premiered the new strain at the most recent edition of industry trade show Hall of Flowers up north in Wine Country, it was among a handful of strains that really stole the show.
19. Yoga Pants – Redwood Remedies
This mix of Strawberry Banana and Mamba is one of Redwood’s Gardener in Chief’s own crosses. I’d actually never tried it before and in all honesty think it’s his best work. Maybe better than the Black Cherry Pie from a couple years ago. The flavor and potency are both ideal, and the effects are pretty damn uplifting.
Expect to feel a calm but prominent euphoria and very pleasant body effects. The flavor is really impressive. There’s a very sweet strawberry flavor followed by black pepper and fuel. That strawberry sweetness seems almost stronger than what I’ve tasted smoking Strawberry Banana.
photo & review by Fog City Flower Fanatic
18. Watermelon Ranchers (outdoor grown) – Blazing Oaks
This is some really well grown outdoor cannabis. When I whiffed the jar it was like a terpy slap in the face; the nose on this strain will make you a believer. Sweet and sour fruit dominate the scent and flavor of Watermelon Rancher, and that sour flavor is enhanced by a ton of terpinoline.
The effects of this are a moderate, but very enjoyable. Expect an uplift in mood with an equally noticeable body effect. This is some incredible herb, many thanks
photo & review by Fog City Flower Fanatic
17. Mandarin Cookies – Farm2Lab
For around $40 an eigth Farm2Labs is making waves with their well cured, well trimmed indoor flower. Forty bucks is a great price for this version of Mandarin Cookies weighing in at over 34% THC.
Mandarin Cookies is an indica leaning strain with sweet citrus and slight petrol flavors reminicent of a Riesling from Mosel, Germany. Breeders in Colorado crossed GSC x Mandarin Sunset and prduced a stunner with high levels of myrcene and nerolidol, both of which provide stress relief.
16. Cereal Milk – Cookies
Cereal Milk has a loud flavor with a sweet milk and ice cream nose that will keep you dipping back into your stash. You can expect dense, quality nugs dripping with trichomes and a potent high.
15. Jealousy – Minntz
Minntz was born from the partnership of legendary brands Seed Junkies and Cookies.
Seed Junkies’ strains are derived from a lineage of exceptional breeders who are now producing craft flowers; their commitment to craft and quality made them a natural fit for a partnership with Cookies.
Jealousy (Gelato41 x Sherb bx1) from Cookies and The Minntz bred by Seed Junky Genetics. Jealousy buds have a dark purple hue and a frosty shine.
14. Blue Mocha Thai – Danksmells
My brain got slapped around again. This lovely sample, Blue Mocha Thai, a cross of Chocolate Thai x Blueberry bx5 was given to me by @danksmells Once again I’m amazed at how psychedelic good herb can be.
The Chocolate Thai in the cross put a strange filter over my visual senses and made everything warmer as far as colors go (camera geeks holla). I’m not tripping, but it’s not unlike a gram size dose of mushrooms because of the visual enhancement and the heightened sense of well-being. The blueberry has a nice anchoring effect and keeps you from getting overstimulated, or paranoid. There’s also a noticable tingling body effect from the Blueberry.
The flavor really grabs your attention. It has a kind of tangy fruit meets spice and fuel flavor. On inhale there’s a combination of sharper berry flavor and a sweeter melon (cantaloupe) softness to it. There’s also a sharpness to the fuel and a astringent, almost coffee-like bitterness. It’s something special, partly because it stands out from the herd of flavor profiles I come across.
photo & review by Fog City Flower Fanatic
13. OZ Kush – Wonderbrett
12. Horchata – Uncle Jesse’s Collective
Like the amazing sweet cinnamon rice milk drink, Horchata has a creamy fuel flavor with a spicy aftertaste. In this case it’s not so much cinnamon as it’s black pepper, but close enough.
This spicy combo really brings your taste buds to new depths. A sweetness comes through once you have started toking, leaving you wanting even more. The high starts with a cerebral rush that smashes its way into your brain, edging out any negative or racing thoughts and replacing them with pure euphoric creativity.
As your mind rises, your body will begin to fall into a deeply relaxing state that can render you immovable if you’re not careful.
photo & review by Fog City Flower Fanatic
11. Rainbow Chip – High Fidelity
Rainbow Chip is an evenly balanced hybrid strain (50% indica/50% sativa) created through crossing the deliciously potent Sunset Sherbet X Mint Chocolate Chip strains.
Named for its super delicious fruity flavor and vibrant appearance, Rainbow Chip is the perfect flavorful bud for any hybrid lover. High Fidelity is a rising star in the crowded Oakland cannabis market. Their flower is top shelf and very well priced. I’d put it up against any other cult grower in the state.
10. Runtz – Headstash
9. White Nectarine – Fig Farms
Fig Farms is one of those craft cultivators who made fighting for legalization worth it. Keith at Fig Farms just knows how to produce exceptional flower people want. Fig Farms is no stranger to the winner’s circle at Northern California Cannabis Cups over the years. Few people in the industry work harder at breeding pristine genetics and growing each plant lovingly like it was an only child.
White Nectarine isn’t usually the first strain people think of when they hear the name Fig Farms. Most strains lean heavily toward the indica side of the scale, but White Nectarine is super tasty with bright stonefruit and ripe citrus notes, most likely from the Satsuma side of the lineage. It’s been my go-to strain (along with Mother’s Milk) for lifting spirits and offsetting anxiety in 2020.
photo by Fig Farms
8. Dark Dosi – LitHouse
Dark Dosi (GSC x Face Off OG) always has a mental intensity that walks a fine line between euphoria and confusion. This is the type of flower that had me going back to my room for my wallet about four times, each time asking myself, “why am I here again?” It rates a five on the abandoned glass of water scale.
The body effects are pretty spectacular from this sample. I’m betting most of you can bring the flavor to memory without much effort; they’re classic. Sweet fuel with a hint of root beer. The lithouse Dark Dosi has the same flavorful intensity. You really can’t go wrong with the flavor and potency, but make sure you don’t have to focus on something cause you won’t.
photo by Fog City Flower Fanatic
7. Lemon Cherry Gelato – Uncle Jesse’s Collective
Lemon Cherry Gelato stands out in the flavor department. As the name implies, it has a strong lemon flavor on the inhale. It might be a stretch for me to say that it has anything resembling a cherry flavor, instead pine, fuel and spicy Kush take stage on the exhale.
This sample was absolutely soaked in sweet lemony Kush. It’s not a stretch to say that it’s one of the most flavorful that I’ve had. I stand by my opinion; these flavors over saturate the market. I prefer more diversity, but I’m happy to smoke something that tastes amazing.
The effects are mostly heavy and bring about a calm euphoria. It’s especially helpful now, listening to a rapidly devolving debate. Cannabis’ ability to lessen anxiety is a gift.
photo and review by Fog City Flower Fanatic
6. Mike Larry – Jungle Boys
Breeding two legendary strains (Gelato 45 x Larry OG) is about as close to a sure thing. Iván Vanorwick must’ve been giddy as a schoolgirl thinking about how good this cross was going to turn out. Sure enough, Mike Larry came out just a friend was going down to L.A. He picked up a few strains and luckily had sense to grab some of this.
It’s hard to find anything missing. Mike Larry is about as perfect of a cannabis experience as you can get. The aromas were ethereal, the smoke was silky and tasted like an exotic baked fruit tart. Each nug was impeccably manicured and looked so good you didn’t want to grind it up. But I’m an American and not a quitter! So I forged on and loaded it into my pipe. It’s so good you almost don’t want to share it!
5. GMO – Up North Humboldt
GMO is an indica-dominant hybrid. This strain is known for its petrol aroma characteristic of any Chemdawg descendant. This smell also has fruity and coffee tones. Meanwhile, the taste is earthy and sweet, like its GSC’s parent.
Its soothing effects can be used to treat chronic pain, depression, insomnia, stress and appetite loss. It starts with an euphoric boost that is uplifting but you remain relaxed. You are happy, euphoric and soon, very hungry. GMO is recommended for evening and nighttime use.
4. London Pound Minntz – Minntz
There’s a funky UK Cheese thing happening (in a good way) with this Seed Junkies x Cookies collaboration. The general dank perfumy weed smell was wrapped in a sweet bouquet of vanilly creamy cakiness with some macerated berries. London Pound Minntz is most likely a cross between London Pound Cake and Thnk Mints (Durban Poison x OG Kush).
This one brings the lumber. The total cannabinoids and THC both came in over 30% and when I hit it I coughed loud enough that my wife came in from down the hall to make sure I hadn’t hacked up a lung. For the record, that doesn’t happen much. The next four hours felt like I was Forrest Gump bumbling through my day and everything just seemed to go my way. It was a great vibe.
3. Bacio Gelato – Sherbinskis
I picked up some samples of Sherbinkis strains at the Hall of Flowers. When you get home from an event like HoF with a grocery sized bag full of top shelf weed samples it can be a bit much. You pretty much need to clear your schedule for the rest of the week.
Out of all the samples from that day, Sherbinskis’ Bacio Gelato (Sunset Sherbert x Thin Mint Cookies) flower (and vape pen) stood out. There’s a precision to enjoying Sherbinkis flower, like looking through a camera lens and seeing everything autofocus. The appearance was impeccable. The nose was slutty. The body and head high was in perfect balance. I felt like a spinning yin and yang for about 3 hours with a sense of whimsy and a clear head.
With a higher THC than other Gelato strains, this one is good for higher-tolerance smokers and is a great nighttime smoke to let the day melt away, or something to chase away the blues during the day.
2. WiFi Mints – Jungle Boys
Of all the cultish cultivators in the golden state, few are as coveted as Jungle Boys who seem to use some sort of otherworldly wizardry to grow epic frosty dank nugs coated with so many trichomes even Spiderman is like, “daayum, that shit is STICKY”.
Jungle Boys’ WiFi Mints is about as perfect as weed can get. This Sour Diesel x OG Kush cross scores well above average in every category: the aroma is out of this world. The flavor is exceptional as is the effects. This is one of the best highs in all of 2020. Now only if they’d make more.
1. Mother’s Milk – Sovereign
I’ve never been wrapped in cashmere before, but if I had I’m pretty sure it would’ve felt like I just hit some Mother’s Milk from legendary cultivator, Sovereign. Look back over the past 10 years of Cannabis Cup winners and you’ll likely see them listed as a winner many times in all three flower categories.
As it happens, Mother’s Milk won Best Sativa in 2019 at the Cannabis Cup. Sovereign has won so many awards they may need to get a bigger trophy cabinet.
During much of 2020 when there was something new to worry about every other day (including a death in our family of someone close) I seemed to keep reaching for Mother’s Milk. Sovereign puts a little stay fresh thingy in each jar as a nice touch to keep the flower fresh.
Total cannabinoids and THC are both over 30%, yet it doesn’t hit you so hard you turn into Steven Hawking. It brings you up to the ceiling of your, “I feel perfect right here” space and keeps you feeling free of anxiety or stress for a while. It’s kept me feeling fine throughout much of the year.