Keith Villa was working at Coors Brewing in 1995 when he created an unfiltered, Belgian-style beer that became the inspiration for the Blue Moon Brewing Company, which got its start as a special division in Golden and soon spread to locations at Coors Field and then RiNo. When the brewmaster retired from what's now MolsonCoors early this year, he hinted that he had a plan to create a new beverage with "cutting-edge" ingredients.
And now we know what those are: Villa and his wife, Jodi, have partnered with an established Colorado cannabis extraction lab to start Ceria Beverages, a new line of THC-infused drinks with the "same onset time as alcohol," according to a press release announcing the company's launch.
Using technology from its partnership with Ebbu, an extraction lab known for its water-infusing technologies, Villa promises that his new drink will be "brewed just like an alcoholic craft beer" in order to maintain a beer taste and aroma, but any alcohol will be removed before the liquid is infused with THC. In Colorado, it's illegal for any brewery or licensed cannabis infused-product manufacturer to make a beverage with both alcohol and THC.
“I’m ready to introduce another high-impact brand to the industry again, this time with a new line of custom cannabis-infused craft beers," Villa says in the announcement. "Today, the opportunity and the demand are here, inviting Americans to enjoy a more social way of consuming cannabis — by drinking rather than by smoking it or through ingestion of edibles.”
New Belgium Brewing and Dads & Dudes Breweria have both made headlines in the past with their CBD-infused and hemp-infused brews, but Ceria maintains that this creation is unique because it will be the first drink to be brewed like a beer without losing the THC. And with terpenes — plant compounds that affect the smell, taste and way your body reacts to THC — also heavily present in hops, the possibilities of mixing the two are exciting.
"We have always loved what Keith stands for — great-tasting mainstream beers that really kickstarted the entire craft beer movement," Ebbu CEO Jon Cooper says in the announcement. "We are honored and thrilled to partner with Keith, Jodi and CERIA to bring this groundbreaking new product to cannabis consumers in legalized states.”
The Villas named Ceria after the university campus in Brussels, Belgium, where Keith received a doctorate in brewing science. Naturally, Keith will be the brewmaster for the company, while Jodi will serve as CEO. The drinks will only be sold in cannabis dispensaries, not breweries. There's no solid distribution date yet; a spokeswoman for Ceria says she expects them to be on store shelves "later this year."