People are after different things when they go out for a night on the town. Some like the feeling of being drunk; some prefer a chiller feeling of being high; some want a combination. The problem for those who prefer cannabis, however, is that it remains illegal to smoke in public places even in municipalities where marijuana is legal. To cater to every market, more and more brewers have been working to infuse CBD and/or THC into their beverages. A new book also shows there are intense similarities between marijuana and the hop plant, and teaches people how to incorporate cannabis into beer recipes. Statistics show alcohol use decreases in areas that legalize marijuana. There’s also a growing market for low-alcohol and even non-alcoholic beers, with some estimates thinking those two denominations could make up an entire third of the worldwide alcohol market by 2024, even though right now it makes up just 3%. That prediction could be why brewers are so interested in bridging the gap between those two markets.
Consuming a THC-infused beer is similar to eating an edible, promoting the same psychoactive effects people expect from taking in weed. Many of these are non-alcoholic so people aren’t crossing their fades too severely. Two Roots Brewing is extremely popular. It has a variety of beers infused with either 5mg or 10mg of THC, all of which have 0.5% alcohol or less in every 12 ounces. The company offers those at dispensaries in Nevada and California and markets them as “healthy” alternatives to alcoholic beverages. So far, the company offers a lager, a stout, an IPA, a blonde and a wheat option. In Arvada, Colorado, CERIA Brewing is headed by the creator of Blue Moon who’s turned his attention to dealcoholized, cannabis-infused beer. The result is Grainwave Belgian-Style White Ale, which has half the calories of a full-strength beer and has terpenes that promote anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety. The drink has 5mg of THC per beverage.
CBD in beers seems to be the more popular approach. That could be because it’s legal in more areas, or could be because people seem more interested in the calming, anti-inflammatory, pain-reducing elements of CBD but don’t necessarily want the “high” that comes with it – especially when also partaking in alcohol. One popular brewer of CBD-infused beer is from Coalition Brewing Company. The brewery is responsible for the first commercially produced CBD-infused beer in Oregon. Its first is Two Flowers, an IPA that has 6% alcohol and 5mg of CBD in every pint. Outbound Brewing in San Diego makes 30 calorie craft brews with no alcohol. Right now, it’s working on three different malt beverages made with broad-spectrum hemp extract.
Cannabis-infused beers and cannabis beers sound similar but are entirely different products. Whereas cannabeers have THC or CBD combined into a beer that is already most of the way through its creation, cannabis beer is made entirely from cannabis, using stocks and roots taken from marijuana plants rather than barley that would normally be used to make a beer.
Big Name Brands
Some of the name brands involved in these ventures are big ones you’ve likely heard of, like Founders Brewing. It started a pilot program for a beer with CBD added toward the end back in 2019. So far, it seems the brewery is still working on its recipe since the beer hasn’t been released yet. Lagunitas has also started dabbling in drinks infused with THC or CBD under the line Hi-Fi Hops. The Unplugged beverage has an 18:1 ratio, with less than 2 mg of THC and 18mg of CBD per 12-ounce bottle. The Tuner option has 5mg each of THC and CBD. Or you can go all out with the Reverb drink, which has 10mg of THC and no CBD. All of the drinks of no alcohol and no calories. The parent company that owns Anheuser-Busch, which produces beers like Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois, has also signified it could be dabbling in CBD and THC infused beers soon. AB InBev has listed among its “Risks and Uncertainties” section of its 2021 annual report that it’s researching those combinations in a non-alcoholic beverage. AB InBev is also looking to develop a separate non-alcoholic CBD drink that would be sold in Canada alone. That development is considered a risk, the company’s report says, because it “could lead to increased legal, reputational and financial risks as the laws and regulations governing recreational cannabis are still developing, including in ways that AB InBev may not foresee. For instance, the involvement in the legal cannabis industry in Canada may invite new regulatory and enforcement scrutiny in other markets.”