Despite attempts for low-carb and low-calorie beers, consumers just aren’t buying them. Globally, major beer brands have seen a decline in sales, while sales of spirits have increased and wine sales have remained around the same, as reported by Fortune. This only goes to show that people want to be healthier but they still want to party. Constellation Brands (who owns Corona, Modela, Svedka and Mondavi wines) believe the way to keep sales up is to expand into the increasing cannabis market by creating weed-infused beverages.
Ten months ago, Constellation Brands took a 10% stake into Canopy Growth. This past month, Constellation bought an additional $4 billion into the publicly traded Canadian cannabis producer which is the biggest single investment into the marijuana industry. Although they currently have no plans yet to produce a canna-beverage, they are keeping a close eye on the company Lagunitas, who has already created Hi-Fi Hops, a calorie and alcohol-free THC infused drink.
Pairing the two markets proposes a highly venturous prospect. The expanding marijuana edibles market has been prompting alcohol company CEOs to dip their toes into the green business. Constellation Brands CEO Rob Sands told Fortune, “Our company’s success is the result of our focus on identifying early-stage consumer trends, and this is another step in that direction.”
Medicinal marijuana has been legalized in several U.S. states and Canada. On October 17th, Canada will legalize it for recreational use. Society and politicians are merging together to herald the benefits that cannabis has psychologically, physically, socially and economically. Cannabidiol is a key ingredient in this sector. Its non-psychoactive qualities found in marijuana have the potential to become the new vitamin C or calcium, according to Lauren Rudick, a partner in Hiller Law Firm which focuses on cannabis suits.
Cannabidiol, or CBD as it is known, is the counterpart to THC. THC produces euphoric highs that CBD does not. In this regard, canna-beverages that contain the CBD components of marijuana, have massive potential because society is beginning to understand the medicinal purposes of marijuana. CBD has the same pain blocking qualities of smoking medicinal weed without the high.
For companies like Corona and Heineken, canna-beer is even simpler: replace the hops with weed. Like the myriad of IPA’s, APA’s, lagers, stouts, double IPA’s, ales, pilsners, and saisons out there, canna-beer requires the same trial and error experimentation to get the right proportions. My husband, a chemist, has made several batches of homebrew and it is quite tricky to formulate your own recipe. However, these beverage giants already have tried and true products so they don’t require as much time spent in the lab for research and development. Although it is not as straightforward as replacing 1 oz of hops with 1 oz of weed, mitigating that ratio for quality taste and sufficient buzz is their biggest hurdle.
Speaking of taste, what DOES a canna-beer taste like? Unfortunately, this writer living in the red state of Missouri doesn’t have a legal way to give you a first-hand account (unless my editor wants to fly to me Canada and try it out. Wink wink). First of all, the target consumer for canna-beer isn’t your run of the mill Bud Light drinker; they are your craft beer drinkers. Craft beer drinkers seek out subtleties of flavors, smells, and after tastes. On a hot summer day, I enjoy a Blackberry Wheat. On a mild autumn day, I may opt for a red double IPA. With this being said, canna-beers offer the same taste and olfactory complexities of craft beers.
Weed is counterintuitive to our appetites: the skunkier it is, the better the weed is. But beer companies aren’t looking to get you stoned – they want to give you a short term relaxing buzz while still functioning socially. Their objective is to give you quality taste. Because canna-beers are still experimental, they are tweaking their formulas but there is no doubt it will be superior tasting product.
Conceptually, this is great venture for the beer giant Corona, who already has a built in market and loyal consumers, to be a trailblazer in the canna-beer market. Moreover, it’s HIGH time marijuana becomes more of a commercial product for all of it’s obvious benefits.