Keith and Jodi Villa are launching a cannabis-infused beer company, Ceria Beverages. | Courtesy of Ceria Beverages
DENVER — The inventor of Blue Moon beer is launching three cannabis-infused drinks that promise intoxication without the alcoholic headache.
The drinks, served chilled and initially only available in Colorado this fall, will contain no alcohol but will instead be infused with special marijuana formulas designed to mimic the effects of booze. Its developers say the drink will “hit” the user at the same pace as if they were drinking a beer.
Marijuana-infused foods typically take at least an hour to kick in, making it harder for consumers to accurately dose themselves.
“This is really about brewing great beers that beer drinkers love,” said Keith Villa, who developed Blue Moon Belgian Wheat and worked for MillerCoors for 32 years. “You’d just swap out an alcoholic beer for one of our beers.”
Several other companies offer cannabis beer, but they all lack the psychoactive compound, THC. Instead, they’re infused with hemp extract to give them a marijuana taste — and helps them grab headlines. Federal law prohibits brewers from using marijuana in their beers.
Villa’s “beer,” because it lacks alcohol, skirts that federal ban, even though marijuana itself remains federally illegal. The longtime brewer said since retirement he’s become a believer in the plant’s benefits, especially when paired with the technology developed by his partners at Colorado-based Ebbu, which specializes in extracting and analyzing marijuana compounds.
Several other companies already manufacture marijuana-infused drinks or offer marijuana powders to sprinkle on food or in teas, but Ebbu says its technology allows them to provide specific feelings, like euphoria or relaxation. For the past several years the company’s scientists been conducting double-blind tests on volunteers to help fine-tune their formulas.
“We’ve really been able to dial in on those sensations that can deliver a consistent experience for the users,” said Ebbu president Jon Cooper.
Villa said he hopes to develop three kinds of drinks to infuse with Ebbu products: a light beer, a wheat beer, and something heavier, like an Imperial or barrel-aged stout. In all cases, he’ll make the beer as usual, remove the alcohol, and then add the cannabis extracts. The company hopes to have the beers on store shelves this fall, and plans to expand next year to other states that permit legal marijuana.
Villa’s new brewing company will be called Ceria Beverages.