As reported by Forbes, “In 2015 and 2016, Aurora, CO based Dad & Dude’s Brewery offered tastings of General Washington’s Secret Stash, a cannabis-infused beer, at the Great American Beer Festival—to consistent long lines.”
This development promoted Portland based Coalition Brewing to explore brewing CBD-infused beer. In September 2016, Phil Boyle, Beer Ambassador for Coalition Brewing, and head brewer Elan Walsky were invited to the Canna Soirée, a cannabis industry event hosted by Cascade High. At that event, they met Bill Stewart, a chemical engineer with Half Baked Labs. Working with Stewart, they developed a proprietary method for introducing the CBD into the beer so that integrity of the CBD remains intact.
According to Boyle, the cannabis and beer industries share many of the same hallmarks. They each focus on craft, community, innovation, region, and agriculture, and they are both regulated by the OLCC, and both are children of the laws that governed Prohibition in the 1920s. When they began their research into making a CBD beer, Boyle observes, “We learned of the close biological similarities of these "Two Flowers" (name of our IPA beer) with both hops and cannabis coming from the same genus Cannabaceae.”
Emma Chasen, cannabis educator and consultant, offers her observations regarding the similarities between hops and cannabis, including the chemical compounds found inside each of their respective plant matrixes. “Myrcene, for example, is a terpene abundantly found in both hops and cannabis. It has quite an earthy, sweet aroma and is typically responsible for the sedative experience one feels after drinking a lot of beer or consuming a lot of cannabis.” She adds why CBD is the obvious choice for infusion into beer. “CBD has an ability to create a calming, relaxing experience without intoxication. The alcohol, in this case, intoxicates and the CBD helps to keep people feeling calm and happy.”
Coalition Brewing’s CBD Beer Lineup:
When asked how they craft the recipe for a CBD infused beer, Boyle responds with a chuckle. “We just come up with an idea that we think will work.” On a more serious note, they seek out those hops that will create the flavor profile they want for a given beer, whether an IPA, sour beer, pale ale, or stout. For example, in their seasonal Lemon and Basil Sour beer, lemon and basil contain limonene and myrcene respectively, two terpenes also present in cannabis. They don’t focus on different CBD strains as they use a proprietary CBD – effectively, a single strain.
Since hosting their first Two Flowers CBD dinner over two years ago, Coalition Brewing participated in similar events such as Arcane Revelry’s private CBD infused brunch, held in November 2017. As Boyle observes, “chefs get excited at these events as they find it fun to play with stuff they normally don’t get to play with such as different terpene profiles and CBD infused beers.”
Coalition Brewing chose to showcase their full range of CBD beers on 4/20 during their inaugural CBD Beer Festival. In addition to their year round Two Flowers IBA, this festival featured four seasonal CBD beers ranging from a light Mango sour to the deep velvety Special Brownies Stout along with a range of beers brewed using non-cannabis derived terpenes from True Terpenes. On June 15, 2018, they launched their first release of Two Flowers IPA in 16-ounce cans available only at the brewery tasting room.
Later this summer, they debuted a CBD Hazy IPA infused with Tangie Terpenes “Certified” done in collaboration with CBD Certified/East Fork Cultivars and True Terpenes. Nathan Howard, Co-founder and President of East Fork Cultivars elaborated on this collaboration. “This beer is a celebration of Cannabidiol education and a nod to East Fork's profound education initiative, CBD Certified. Over the past year East Fork Cultivars has been delivering comprehensive CBD education via CBD Certified to thousands of cannabis and hemp professionals, the general public, and to CBD leaders like Coalition Brewing. Certified Hazy IPA is also intended to highlight the incredible synergy between craft beer and the burgeoning craft hemp and craft cannabis movement.”
In addition, Coalition Brewing debuted a CBD radler at the 2018 Portland Radler Festival and will offer a Bourbon Barrel aged Double IPA infused with CBD and Terpenes at the 2018 Holiday Ale Festival. Also, they plan to host a CBD Night Market where will highlight a CBD beer. (Check out their website for details on upcoming events.)
Future of Cannabis Infused Beers:
Coalition Brewing continues to work closely with their regulatory partners and the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB), and Boyle remains confident and excited they can continue making their CBD beers. (Note: Until cannabis is removed as a Schedule 1 drug, breweries cannot produce a THC beer. Some breweries such Province Brands of Canada and San Diego based Two Roots Brewing avoid the complications of combining alcohol and cannabis by manufacturing a line of non-alcoholic cannabis beers available in dispensaries.)
Throughout Portland, one can find other occasional craft CBD beers offerings such as a CBD beer available on tap during the 32nd Annual Oregon Brewers Festival and Breakside Brewing featured a CBD IPA during an after party held as part of Feast Portland. Exactly how this trend will play out in the shot-term remains uncertain. For example, Breweries such as Dad & Dudes Breweria, and Long Trail Brewing (VT) have been ordered to cease making their CBD Beers with no sign when they will be able to resume production. Also, Black Hammer Brewing (CA) was informed they could not make their CBD beer until the brewery gets CBD added to their list of approved ingredients.
With industrial giants such as Constellation Brands, maker of Corona beer, entering the cannabis space, beer aficionados can expect to see in the foreseeable future a range of CBD beers coming to market. These products will range from the craft to the commercial, thus satisfying a wide range of tastes and budgets.