SAN FRANCISCO, CA / ACCESSWIRE / December 6, 2019 / Growpacker — the burgeoning cannabis co-packing and bottling company — is gearing up for the high-profile launch of its inaugural THC-Infused beer from Ceria Brewing. The partnership between the two firms was announced back in March, with Ceria Brewing becoming the first official partner of Growpacker’s Accelerator Program and one of Growpacker’s investee portfolio brands.
Notably, Ceria Brewing was started by Keith Villa, the founder of Blue Moon Beer, which is the number one selling craft beer in America with over $250 million annual sales.
The joint endeavor by the two firms represents a major step forward for the cannabis industry, which is expected to surpass $22 billion in legal sales by 2022.
The first release of Grainwave, a Belgian-style White Ale that is dealcoholized and infused with THC, is already on sale in select locations in Denver, CO. Tapping into Growpacker’s extensive manufacturing and distribution network in California, Grainwave is set to officially launch in the Sunshine State this December, breaching a potentially highly lucrative THC-infused beer market.
Growpacker & An Uncommon Approach to Beer
Growpacker has been making waves in the California cannabis industry as one of its leading formulators, manufacturers, and distributors that relies on a turnkey business model for brands entering the cannabis market. The firm’s pipeline encompasses everything from streamlined product development to equity partnerships with brand startups to help fast-track their growth in the market as part of its incubator program.
The most impressive aspect of Growpacker’s growth, however, has been its high-tech manufacturing plant.
“We sit on one of the most advanced cannabis manufacturing plants in California with the ability to offer clients over 1000 pre-made beverage and edible formulations, in house laboratory for custom formulations, and multiple tech-driven autonomous production lines,” says Growpacker CEO, Stephen Boyd. “Our facility is capable of outputting 100’s of millions in annual wholesale revenue from cannabis-infused beverages, edibles, pre-rolls, packaged flower, vape cartridges, topicals, and raw materials.”
And now, you can add THC-infused beer to the list of beverages.
The idea of dealcoholizing beer and swapping in THC may seem strange at first glance, but there is a potentially fertile opportunity here. The first release of Ceria’s Grainwave has already proved immensely popular in its select availability, and with Growpacker’s infrastructure for California, the beer could go mainstream.
“I don’t think anybody has a clue how big the California market is in regards to cannabis beer,” detailed Keith Villa in the March release in Brewbound. “We hope to produce as much as we can for that market.”
To put into perspective just how large the California cannabis industry is, California led all states with $2.75 billion in marijuana sales in 2018, outpacing Colorado in second by $1.2 billion. That gap is only expected to grow in California’s favor, where Growpacker is a thriving distributor and brand facilitator.
Recreational cannabis sales are catching up to beer’s hegemony in US consumer demand too.
The booming cannabis sales market already comprises almost 50 percent of US consumer demand for beer, leaving ample room for THC-infused beer to carve out a profitable niche. Combine craft beer and THC, and you’re looking at bootstrapping an entire market of craft beers replete with THC instead of alcohol — an appealing alternative for those wary of alcohol’s effects.
And the process isn’t even a challenging transition from the standard beer brewing process.
“Ceria is really produced just like a beer,” Villa detailed to KGNU in August. “So, we brew it, ferment it, and we actually have a great tasting beer by the time it’s almost finished. But at that point, that’s when we run it through a special machine to remove the alcohol, and then once the alcohol is removed, then we replace it with THC distillate from cannabis, and then we package it and distribute it to dispensaries.”
Ceria is even planning on rolling out 2 more THC-infused beers, including an American Lager and an IPA.
Interestingly, the respective THC contents, 2.5 mg for the Lager and 10mg for the IPA, mirror the stronger alcohol content of IPA’s compared to traditional Lagers. That’s a very telling design motivation because it reflects the notion that Ceria is catering to beer styles that mainstream beer drinkers are accustomed to.
Incidentally, alcohol consumption dropped for the second straight year in 2018. THC-infused beer may help break down taboo barriers in THC/marijuana consumption as well as serving as a social replacement for traditional beer.
Who knows, eventually, THC-infused beers may become the leading socially acceptable form of cannabis consumption. Growpacker and Ceria are betting big on that notion, and it would be a profound transformation for the industry.
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