Cannabis Beer 101: The Fundamentals You Need to Know

Apr 23, 2018

Marijuana is predicted to upset sales of alcohol once fully legalized, with an industry predicted to be worth $75 billion by 2030. Numbers like these can be unsettling for the big beer companies worried that marijuana could lead to decreased drinking.

PotNetwork reported on the rising anxiety earlier this year when Molson Coors Brewing Company (NASDAQ:TAP) called marijuana a “risk factor.” In the same vein, Andy Thomas, CEO of Craft Brew Alliance (NASDAQ:BREW), told Investor’s Business Daily that marijuana is “disruptive” to the alcohol industry.

“I think regardless of what kind of path you take,” he went on to say, “you can't help but say it's going to be another one of those forces that changes the way people socialize.”

But what fun comes without a little risk? Rather than fighting the inevitable, more and more brewing companies are getting cool with weed stocks. The following are a few who are embracing a future with marijuana stocks:

Drink Up with These Pot Stocks

The most fearless pot stock is Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED), who teamed up with Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE:STZ) last year. Constellation, the brand behind Corona beer, invested an initial $245 million in Canopy as the first publicly traded alcohol company to endorse cannabis. Last month, Constellation released their fourth-quarter earnings, and CEO David Klein spoke of the company’s plans to invest another $20 million in their e-commerce and cannabis sectors.

“These initiatives should help us stay ahead of trends, to help us meet the needs of the perpetually evolving consumer," Klein said during Constellation’s earnings call.

Watching consumer trends appears to be the key to winning the fight between alcohol and pot. Keith Villa, the founder of Blue Moon Brewing, recently retired from his position at Molson Coors to pursue greener pastures. He and his wife are now founders of CERIA Beverages, a brewing company in Colorado that is working directly with cannabis research company ebbu to develop a THC-infused, alcohol-free beer.

In an interview with the Northglenn Thornton Sentinel, a local paper in Villa’s hometown of Arvada, Colorado, Villa shared his motivation for creating another lifestyle brand. “I’m ready to introduce another high-impact brand to the industry again,” he said. “Today, the opportunity and the demand are here, inviting Americans to enjoy a more social way of consuming cannabis by drinking rather than by smoking it.”

CERIA Beverages will be pouring their brews later this year with a labeling system that alerts drinkers to how stoned they will be if they reach for the pale ale or the double IPA.

Time to Get Technical

Cannabis-infused beverages are not a new phenomenon. Just this month High Times published an article about cannabis beverages, and beer is not the first on the list. Cannabis-infused teas, milk, as well as alcohol are now a mainstay in marijuana culture. So why are cannabis companies focusing mainly on beers?

One answer could be the way people socialize, as Andy Thomas and Keith Villa both predict. Even as it trudges through the relay race that is legalization, marijuana is changing the way people go out and spend time together. Infusing alcoholic beverages with cannabis is one-way big pot stocks like Canopy Growth can evolve with their consumers.

But how does this infusion work? It is pretty simple. Anyone who has baked their own weed brownies can infuse their favorite alcoholic beverage in much the same way. For companies like Constellation and CERIA, this is just done a much bigger, more commercial scale.

The first step is decarboxylation. This process binds the THC to the flower, so it is not lost during the cooking process. Decarboxylation uses heat to extract THC. Typically, those who smoke pot or vape cannabis oils decarboxylize when they spark up, but for beer infusions, the process takes more time.

Decarboxylation for edibles and cannabis beers can happen with a microwave or conventional oven. Maker’s choice, although High Times recommends microwaving marijuana before boiling it together with alcohol. Homebrewers will want a double-boiler and plenty of time, as infusion takes a little over three hours.

Find Cannabis on Tap

If you are not willing to wait, there are a few places you can look for cannabis on tap. In America, bars serving cannabis brews are few and far between. Keith Villa’s brews will be available in Colorado later this year, but in the meantime, Americans can look to microbreweries to satiate their cravings.

According to the Brewers Association, a microbrewery is defined as producing less than 17,600 hectoliters of beer per year, and over 500 new microbreweries opened just this last year. Their small size gives them the luxury of producing their own flavor combinations, some of which include hemp and cannabis oils.

But across the pond, the Stockton Brewing Company of England will be unveiling their Buffalo Soldier beer in the next few months. According to Gazette Live, this Teesside-brewed beer will be the first cannabis-infused brew in the UK.

With so many breweries finding ways to embrace cannabis, it is almost safe to say that the feud between alcohol and weed could still find common ground if investors are willing to take the risk.

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