Is Marijuana the Future of Beer?

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The pot industry and beer industry have been on a collision course for decades. Photo-Illustration: Grub Street; Photo: Sergey Peterman/Getty Images

Imagine meeting friends for a beer and choosing your drink not by style or brewer, but by the effect you want the beer to have on your body: an option to make you happier, or calmer, or more energetic. This is the dream of Keith Villa, the brewer that created Blue Moon, and one of the big ideas behind his new company, Ceria Beverages. Ceria isn’t a traditional brewery, but is instead focused on making cannabis beer, a nonalcoholic drink that will nevertheless leave you in a state of (gently) altered consciousness. Villa thinks Ceria will do for marijuana beer what his Blue Moon did for craft beers tastefully garnished with orange slices. He might actually be right.

By the start of next year, Ceria will release a THC-infused lager, IPA, and witbier. Villa partnered with a Denver cannabinoid research company called Ebbu that, he says, can isolate compounds in order to trigger specific sensations in the body. “Our light beer will have a low dose of THC so people can drink several without getting stoned,” he says, comparing it to Bud Light. “Or if they want a stronger sensation, they can get our IPA. It will be equivalent to a regular IPA — have two, enjoy a decent buzz.” All this, according to THC beer advocates, will happen without hangovers or the threat of a beer gut.

Villa is hardly alone in his pursuit, as the legal(ish) pot industry and beer industry have been on a collision course for years now. Pot smoking is a dying trend. Edibles sales, meanwhile, are white-hot, and  industry insiders predict beverages will be the largest sector by far. Meanwhile,  analysts estimate the beer industry could lose $2 billion a year if pot keeps siphoning off sales. But brewers — a demographic long partial to weed — have realized a solution is staring them in the face: nonalcoholic “beer” made with marijuana, which just so happens to be a close genetic cousin of hops (a crucial ingredient in traditional beer). Both hops and cannabis affect brain function, and both share the same terpenes, the citrusy-piney punch that will be familiar to anyone who loves double IPAs.

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