After 32 years in the beer business, Blue Moon founder and former Coors head brewer, Keith Villa, was looking for a new project. Inspired by the medicinal benefits of cannabis, Villa came up with an expected idea: THC-infused beer. No later than December, Villa’s new endeavor, Arvada-based Ceria Beverages, will release its new line of THC-infused, non-alcoholic craft beers, the first ever on the market. (Some breweries have infused their beers with hemp and CBD, but not with cannabis’ psychoactive compound.)
“It’s a whole new frontier out there, and it’s something that’s never been done before,” says Villa. His goal? Creating a beverage that will provide a different kind of buzz. Alcohol, as Villa explains it, is one-dimensional: Drink a little, get a little buzzed. Drink a lot, get drunk. But when it comes to marijuana, he says, “there are so many other sensations you can get, depending on the strains—relaxing, energetic, blissful, happy.”
Villa’s wife, Jodi, co-founder and CEO of the company, is working with Colorado-based cannabinoid research firm ebbu to produce consistently “blissful sensations.” The beer will be brewed just like an alcoholic craft beer, but will then be “de-alcoholized” before being infused with cannabis. Because the alcohol is removed, the THC beers will have only 50 to 70 calories a pop, but Villa says they’ll still drink like typical craft beers.
Instead of putting out salty peanuts and other bar snacks to make imbibers thirsty, will bars start putting out Ceria THC beers to fuel imbibers’ hunger? Nope. That’s because the THC-infused brews will be available in dispensaries only.
As a nod to his Rocky Mountain roots, Villa has created a ski-slopelike guide to the line-up: The light American lager, denoted by a green leaf, will have less than five milligrams of THC, while the rest of the line—including the “blue leaf” Belgian white (this one will taste most similar to a Blue Moon), the “black diamond” IPA, and “double black diamond” double IPA —will go up in dosage levels. (The exact amounts and strains have yet to be determined.)
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Villa says, “We think it could change the industry.”