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How Craft Breweries in Canada & the USA are Combining Beer & Cannabis

Beer and Cannabis have always had a connection. Cannabis and hop plants are members of the same genus and have a closely related molecular structure. For many brewers, blending beer and cannabis is an opportunity to attract an audience that might normally opt for another beer choice and to educate consumers about the two industries.

A Brief History of Cannabis in Beer 

It is estimated that some 27 million years ago Cannabis Sativa (Cannabis) and Humulus Lupulus (Hops) were the same plants. In recent times, they are two different species, with different commercial use, different connotations, and different laws that regulate their use. Now the two plants are coming together in the making of beer. Learn more about its history here!

March 2005  

Since beer-making began, people have been placing non-traditional ingredients into their beer. In the 1500s, non-traditional wasn’t set in stone until the German’s popularised their beer purity act. There are many reasons to believe that all brewers were adding cannabis into their beers for decades. The commercial weed beer starts with the famous weed-friendly Lagunitas. In 2005, California’s alcohol beverage control agency raided the brewery. It got shut down for 20 days and no one went to jail.

September 2015

The first beer that was brewed with CBD was released by Dad and Dudes brewery. The brewery announced publicly of the 1st two commercial CBD beers called Indica double IPA and Sativa IPA. Both had a short run but made a real impact.

April 2016

On the 6th of April, Wiz Khalifa said he was introducing a new line of cannabis infused beers. A beer is yet to be released.

November 2016

In 2016, announced by Coalition Brewing, was the first commercial beer with hops and cannabis. The year after, Coalition made a full series of beers including herbs of a feather and two flowers IPA.

April 2017

The first CBD infused beer released by black hammer brewing was toke back mountain. May of this year, the brewery had to stop making the beer as CBD was not approved as a nonstandard beer ingredient.

For over two decades, sweet water brewery company the best seller of cannabis beer has been 420 extra pale ale. In June, they released another beer known as 420 strain G13 IPA. It is blended with hops, terpenes, hemp flavours, cannabis, and organic compounds. This beer became the 2nd bestselling beer available.

Now that recreational use of cannabis is legal in Canada and some parts of the US, many companies are eager to find new ways to use its beverages derivatives or cannabis and to also tap into what is expected to be a multi-billion-dollar market. The enforcement and laws of cannabis can change and conflict. Federal laws forbid mixtures of THC and alcohol which is marijuana’s psychoactive components. Breweries are taking leaps partly because the compounds and cannabis can deliver flavours, experiences, and normal aromas. This will allow beers to be different.

In 2002, Lagunitas changed the name of the copper ale beer to Censored. Since California legalised cannabis, Heineken now owns Lagunitas and have entered the market place with Hi-Fi hops, which is a collab between extract manufacturer Canna craft and the brewery. The cannabis drink is a hops sparkling water which is infused with THC. It comes in many different strength levels and is sold in only marijuana dispensaries.

Beer makers are also looking at CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabis product. Coalition brewery released a bitter and citrusy two flowers IPA beer which contained 4 mg of CBD and hemp juice. The company wanted to explore and see the similarities between cannabis and hops.

The US cannabis industry was said to be worth 6 billion in 2016, and it is forecast to reach 50 billion by 2026.

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