The History of Cannabis-Infused Craft Beer


Over the past few months, the concept of cannabis-infused beer has seen some developments that place the innovative drink in a large spotlight. You might get the impression that it was developed within the last couple of years, however the concept of introducing cannabis to beer dates back at least a decade. This new beverage has an interesting history that has led to its growing rise in popularity   

What Is Cannabis-Infused Craft Beer?

A cannabis-infused beer is, essentially, a beer brewed with barley and infused with marijuana oil. This should not be confused with cannabis-brewed beers, which substitute barley with the unused parts of the cannabis plant, like stems, stalks, and roots. Both drinks are non-alcoholic and aim to create similar effects without the drawbacks of a hangover. 

Hops and Cannabis

Before formal attempts to combine cannabis and beer, there was a connection between the two from 27 million years ago. The beer-related plant humulus lupulus (hops) and cannabis sativa (cannabis) were once the same plant. They are now different species with contrasting uses that did not meet until recently. 

Lagunitas Raid

In 2005, California brewery Lagunitas was raided by the Alcohol Beverage Control agency when it found employees smoking marijuana. In order to commemorate the raid, Lagunitas created a special craft beer inspired by marijuana, though with no cannabis-related ingredients in it. This event inspired the brewery to create more cannabis beer products years later. 

Dad & Dude’s First CBD Beer  

Colorado-based Dad & Dudes Breweria came up with the first two beers that included CBD oil in them, Sativa IPA and Indica Double IPA, in 2015. Both beers had short runs in the brewery due to restrictions imposed in December 2016, which inspired the brewery to fight for legalization of cannabis. 

Wiz Khalifa Joins In

The biggest mainstream exposure of cannabis-infused beer came in April 2016, when rapper Wiz Khalifa announced a line of cannabis-infused drinks, including beer, juice, and carbonated drinks. Despite the popularity, Wiz has not released any products to this date. 

Keith Villa Announces Ceria Beverages

After failed attempts and close calls by numerous companies, Blue Moon founder Keith Villa announced the start of Ceria Beverages—the first major company dedicated to cannabis-infused beers—in March 2018. These products contain THC instead of CBD oil that provide the effects without alcohol drawbacks. 

First US THC and CBD-Infused Drinks

Cannabiniers, a California edibles company, beat Villa to the punch in July 2018 by releasing a line of non-alcoholic brews with both THC and CBD oil to its home state and Nevada. At the same time, Lagunitas, backed by Heineken, released non-alcoholic THC sparkling drinks, the first major release of cannabis-infused drinks. 

As restrictions continue to loosen and new innovations occur in the field, cannabis-infused beers will continue to evolve and reach larger markets.  

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