Bottles are expected to be available in Colorado by the end of the year.
Keith Villa didn’t invent Belgian white beers when he first brewed Blue Moon back in the mid-‘90s. Instead, Villa was an early adopter, jumping on a beer style that was quickly becoming popular in the United States. Blue Moon has gone on to become the best-selling non-lager beer in America, and now, the former MillerCoors brewer behind it is hoping his legendary foresight can lead to another successful venture at the quickly emerging intersection of beer and marijuana.
Just three months after leaving the brewing industry gig he’d had for three decades, Villa has already launched a new Colorado-based company called Ceria Beverages. Though the move shouldn’t come as a shock—in announcing his “retirement,” Villa said he planned on “exploring new creative ventures”—his new beverage of choice might seem unexpected: non-alcoholic cannabis-infused craft beers. Specifically, Villa told the site Brewbound that he’s aiming to make his non-alcoholic craft beverages the first to market that are actually infused with marijuana’s primary psychoactive chemical, THC.
Villa positioned these new brews as something very different from the many cannabidiol (CBD) products that have been hitting the market. “CBD is not the component that most consumers look for,” he told Brewbound. “It certainly has its merits… But the THC is what gives people that buzz, which is similar to the alcohol buzz that people get from beer, spirits, and wine. A lot of consumers of cannabis look for that buzz.”
As for the beers themselves, Villa will serve as brewmaster and the Colorado-based cannabinoid research firm Ebbu will supply extracts. Villa said the drinks will come in three different strengths—light, regular and full-bodied—with each offering a different, clearly-labeled level of THC. And just like different strains of pot, different beers will have different effects based on the balance between THC and CBD levels. “We can dial in exactly the sensations that people want,” he stated. “If people want a CBD sensation where they feel sort of tired and chilled and relaxed, we’ll be able to give them that. If they want a really great THC experience—it’s the end of the week and they want to relax responsibly with their friends and party—we can deliver that too.”
Of course, flavor is important too, and though Villa admits that it’s “tough to make good tasting non-alcoholic beer,” he said that Ebbu has already given him the option of using extracts that either do or do not impart cannabis notes. But though a press release stated that the new company is dedicated to offering “top-quality craft beer taste,” it stopped short of saying what style those tastes would be in.
Despite a lack of those details, however, Ceria is already planning to have these beers available in Colorado by the end of the year. Beers will be sold in 12-ounce single bottles as well as 4-packs, with prices similar to high-end craft beer.