Former Blue Moon brewmaster to release first THC-infused beer
- In December, Ceria, Inc. will be launching Grainwave — a new line of THC-infused, zero-alcoholized — in Colorado, according to USA Today. After its initial launch, there are plans to introduce the beer into California and Nevada. The company is a new venture by former Blue Moon brewmaster Keith Villa.
- This will be the first beer in the United States to have THC, the psychoactive chemical from cannabis plants that creates the "high." Since Grainwave is alcohol-free, it circumvents federal legislation that prohibits THC in beer, USA Today reported.
- The beer will be sold at dispensaries for $9 per 10 oz. bottle or $36 per four-pack.
Keith Villa, the MolsonCoors veteran and brewmaster behind Blue Moon, is making his initial foray into cannabis drinks just as the beer industry is starting to feel the effects of state-by-state legalization of marijuana.
While beer companies continue to face declining sales due to increased competition from wine and spirits, it now also had to contend with the cannabis trend sweeping the nation. IRI analysts predict that if marijuana is legalized nationwide, the beer industry could lose up to $2 billion. The survey also found that recreational marijuana could take 7.1% of the beer industry's revenue. A report by New York investment firm Cowen and Company LLC bolstered the findings as it showed that binge drinking has decreased in states where pot is legal.
To compete and try to stunt lost revenue, brewers around the country are taking advantage of the trend by making some green.
Recently Constellation Brands announced that it was increasing its minority stake in Canadian-based cannabis company Canopy Growth to a whopping 38%, while also suggesting that it could raise its stake to as much as 50%. And Constellation isn't alone. In September, Lagunitas Brewing launched an IPA made with marijuana terpenes, the aromatic compounds of fragrant oils from the cannabis plant. Diageo has also been in talks with at least three Canadian cannabis producers about a deal for a pot-infused drink, according to BNN Bloomberg.
However, since Ceria will be the first brand to launch its THC-infused beverage in the U.S., its success could signal whether there is a future for these types of beverages. Villa's 32 years of service with MolsonCoors could help as he has already wisely differentiated Grainwave from beer by marketing it as a "socially acceptable" alternative to beer at a party.
"For those who desire the sensations of marijuana, cannabis de-alcoholized craft beer represents a more socially acceptable way to consume THC, certainly more socially acceptable than smoking a joint, or consuming a sugary edible. The THC-infused nonalcoholic craft beer consumer can join the party without feeling ostracized. Besides, it's a lot more refreshing,” Villa said in a statement.
Although Villa is delivering on a growing consumer trend, the price of Grainwave could be a sticking point. At $9 for 10 ounces, there is a bit of sticker shock that will have to be accounted for. Still, if Grainwave proves to please taste buds and deliver the high that people are craving, it might prove an easy sell and blaze the trail for a host of competition from other big producers looking to make a little more green.
Correction: In a previous version of the article, the company name was misidentified. Ceria is launching the THC-infused beverage.