Breweries cash in on cannabis

by DGO Staff

For some big name breweries, hops aren’t the only name (or green) in the game

It seems like every week, we hear of yet another brewery marketing a new beer that catches the public’s attention, whether it’s a triple-hoppy IPA (gag), an unusual seasonal ale, or some other newsworthy but fleeting abomination.

But it’s not just weird beers that are making headlines. With the legal cannabis surge of recent years, there has been an increasing public interest in THC-infused beverages, and that includes beer. Cannabis beer hasn’t exactly taken the legal states by storm yet, but if a handful of breweries have their way, weed beers are about to be the next big thing.

Cannabis-infused drinks, includ-ing cannabis beers, only make up around 1% of cannabis sales, but the trend is ticking upward. And, what’s more is that a hand-ful of breweries have taken notice and have put their most creative minds into coming up with the best infused beverages possible. Here’s what’s happen-ing in the world of weed brew-ing.

Blue Moon to Ceria

In 2018, Blue Moon creator Keith Villa walked away from 32 years in the brewing industry, and from his role as founder and head brewmaster at MillerCoors’ Blue Moon Brewing Company. Keith and his wife Jodi then started up Ceria Brewing Company, a weed beer brewery, where he is the brewmaster and his wife serves as CEO.

Villa, who spent years studying THC and all kinds of beer, set out to create sat-isfying beer without the effects of alcohol, adding in its place a little THC. The goal was to cater to people who don’t drink alcohol but enjoy social situations that could benefit from these types of drinks.

These days, Ceria Brewing offers two alcohol-free beers, Ceria Grainwave and Ceria Indiewave, which are infused with either 5mg or 10 mg of THC.

Ceria Grainwave is described as a “refreshing, medium-bodied and unfil-tered free of alcohol Belgian-style white ale, brewed with blood orange peel and coriander for bright flavors” and is infused with 5mg of THC. Ceria Indiewave is an alcohol-free IPA that “perfectly balances Cascade, Citra, and Amarillo hops with light caramel malts for a smooth citrusy character,” which contains 10mg of THC.

Ceria advertises that both of its offer-ings pair great with food. The Indie Wave works great with beef dishes like burgers or steaks, while the Grainwave pairs won-derfully with chicken and fish dishes.

Samuel Adams to TeaPot

Samuel Adams maker Boston Beer is releasing its new line of THC-infused drinks, called TeaPot. Boston Beer Company is an American-based company, which means that cannabis is still federal-ly illegal, so it is using a Canadian subsidi-ary to oversee its cannabis line. Entourage Health Company is growing the cannabis
and will distribute it, while Peak Pro-cessing is infusing the tea and handling all manufacturing.

Paul Weaver, head of Boston Beer Company, believes that infused bever-ages will appeal to people who wouldn’t typically smoke a joint, eat a gummy or want to hit a vape pen for a high.

He believes that the stigma would be significantly reduced if people could enjoy THC in a drinkable form. It is also a more discreet way to partake that doesn’t require you to hide in a car or behind a tree.

TeaPot is only sold in Canada, but it will at some point make its way to the U.S. market.

Weaver does not yet have a timeline for U.S. release, but firmly believes that the U.S. market is where the real oppor-tunity lies within the market.

For now, Boston Beer and Weaver have an interesting approach to enter-ing the infused beverage market. The companies hope to avoid the mistakes of overproduction and supply chain ownership made by the biggest Cana-dian cannabis producers, so they didn’t buy a grow or build a facility, and are instead taking their time. These factors will allow them to maintain maximum flexibility.

Lagunitas to Hi-Fi

Lagunitas Brewing Co. has also jumped aboard the cannabis drink train and created a THC-infused tonic water called Hi-Fi Hops. The drink comes in three different strengths, with some containing more CBD than THC and some with more THC than CBD.

As with other breweries, Lagunitas said it recognizes the need for a more socially acceptable form of consuming cannabis. They know that people are looking to catch a buzz and feel like that buzz they want these days is one from THC.

While there are currently multiple infused tonic waters on the market, La-gunitas delivers more of a hoppy flavor than others. Hi-Fi Hops also features a quick absorption time since the cannabi-noids are absorbed sublingually.

Coors dips its toes in

Boston Beer Company is not the only big name in brewing that’s investing time and money into the infused drink game. Molson Coors Beverage Company is currently making five different infused beverages, prompted by a recent study in which it learned the main barrier of people trying cannabis is the smell of lingering smoke, followed by the lack of control.

Traditional infused drinks and gum-mies can take up to a couple of hours to metabolize in the body, so the lab Coors is working with uses nano emulsification to put the onset time around 15-20 min-utes. It recognizes the potential danger of an extended onset time and wants people to be safe while enjoying their drinks while not getting blindsided by getting too high. These drinks all have a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD.


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