I was trying to cut back on my alcohol consumption when I started drinking THC-infused beverages. To my surprise, it worked.
My favorite these days is Oh Hi, a THC-infused seltzer made in Durango. It comes in four flavors: Pomegranate, Grapefruit and Lemon Lime, which each have 10 milligrams per serving, and Ginger Basil Limeade, with 5 milligrams.
“Oh Hi is the beginning of something really big,” says John Lynch, the company’s head of operations and compliance. “Before COVID, a lot of people were drinking less, especially millennials. There were a lot of mocktail bars. We feel like this is a natural fit for people who don’t want the adverse effects of drinking alcohol. It’s a way of consuming cannabis in a lower dose in a social setting.”
Since one serving isn’t enough for many people, Lynch explains, the company created a new line called Budtender’s Reserve for experienced cannabis users. Each bottle in this line has 100 milligrams of THC, so that people who know the type of effect they want can curate their own experience.
Budtender’s Reserve comes in Tropical Thunder, a Budtender’s Reserve energy drink that has electrolytes and caffeine to fuel an active lifestyle, and High Tea, iced tea with a twist of lemon. Oh Hi is coming out with three more Budtender’s Reserve flavors in the next few months; Grateful Grape will debut in March.
Lynch recommends filling a shot glass, which would be about 10 milligrams, and then pouring your Budtender’s Reserve of choice over ice. Budtender’s Reserve also can be mixed with other beverages, such as club soda, coffee or iced tea to enhance the flavor.
“We’re really trying to hit everyone’s palate,” he explains. “We went really heavy on citrus with the seltzers, so we’re trying to expand and make sure we cover all palates.”
When Oh Hi was in its infancy, it formed a partnership with Stillwater Brands, the maker of the Ripple line of products, which includes gummies and powders that can be mixed into beverages.
I keep a couple of packets of Ripple in my purse for when I go out, to add to club soda in place of a cocktail. There are three versions of Ripple dissolvables: Pure, which has 10 milligrams of THC per packet; Balanced, which has 5 milligrams of THC and 5 milligrams of CBD; and Relief, which has 20 milligrams of CBD and 0.5 milligrams of THC.
“When we first launched Ripple, we launched it as a beverage enhancer, because you could put it into anything, but it was too wide of an application,” recalls Missy Bradley, Stillwater’s director of brand and marketing. “It’s still considered a beverage in many dispensaries because they don’t have a dissolvables category.”
I haven’t tried it, but Bradley says Ripple pairs nicely with citrus beverages. She particularly likes adding it to horchata. “It’s like a dessert, and its a fun thing and tastes so good,” she says.
For ready-to-drink THC-infused beverages, there’s Phyx, a sparkling water produced by Denver-based Spherex. The THC in the zero-calorie beverage takes effect in about ten minutes and lasts for about an hour. The drink comes in four flavors: Grapefruit, Dragonfruit, Lime and All Natural.
Phyx, which is packaged in glass bottles similar to those used by Voss Water, launched with a beverage that has 2.5 milligrams of THC and 2.5 milligrams of CBD, so that the consumer is not overwhelmed. The company has since increased the concentration of THC for some of the beverages in its line to 10 milligrams.
“Phyx is geared toward women who are busy with work, married and have families,” explains Katie Bajcar, director of marketing for Spherex. “They want a product without their kids knowing what they’re drinking. They’re looking for something that is a little more private and discreet and that doesn’t require accessories like a lighter or a torch.”
In an effort to keep customers who might otherwise be lured away from a frosty cold one, some breweries are coming out with their own lines of beverages infused with cannabidiol — including Molson Coors Beverage Co. Molson Coors recently launched its Veryvell line of non-alcoholic, sparkling CBD beverages under Truss CBD USA, a joint venture formed with the Ottawa, Ontario-based consumer packaged goods cannabis company Hexo Corp. Veryvell had already introduced its sparkling waters in Canada, including a version with THC infused into the beverage.
Quicksilver Scientific provides the patent-pending nanoemulsion delivery technology for Veryvell. The droplets sheathing the minuscule CBD particles are so small that they pass between cells and enter the bloodstream directly, making for faster absorption and higher bioavailability in the body.
“Molson Coors saw the opportunity to bring the right brand to the U.S. and launch it in a CBD-friendly market like Colorado,” says David Durkee, vice president of new ventures at Louisville-based Quicksilver Scientific. “CBD had been prevalent in Colorado for more than eight years by the time legalization was happening in Canada.”
Before joining Quicksilver Scientific, Durkee spent nearly a decade in a wide range of roles at Molson Coors, including a stint in global product development.
Veryvell has zero calories, zero sugar and comes in three flavors: Focus (Grapefruit Tarragon), Mind & Body (Strawberry Hibiscus) and Unwind (Blueberry Lavender). Each 12-ounce can contains 20 milligrams of CBD; the suggested retail price is $3.99 for a can or $14.99 for a four-pack. Veryvell is available at more than 150 retailers, including Argonaut, Applejack, Bubbles, Davidson’s, Tipsy’s and Total Beverage.
“It’s too early to speculate on sales,” says Jane Armstrong Hockman, general manager of Truss CBD USA. “However, CBD beverages are a growing segment within the non-alcohol beverage category, and we think it could become a meaningful category in Colorado.”
Even companies that aren’t infusing their beverages with CBD or THC are moving toward appealing to cannabis-minded customers. Atlanta-based SweetWater Brewing Co. introduced its line in Colorado on January; the company’s flagship beer is 420 Extra Pale Ale, a West Coast-style pale ale with big hops and a crisp finish that was first brewed in 1997.
In November, SweetWater was acquired by Canadian cannabis company Aphria, which recently merged with Tilray to become the largest cannabis company in the world. Not surprisingly, SweetWater plans to infuse some of its beverages with THC and CBD in the future, according to Brian Miesieski, head of marketing and innovation.
“We consider ourselves to be the cannabis lifestyle brand in the world of beer,” Miesieski says. “Aphria is eventually going to set up shop in the U.S. and get their brands into the U.S. We have that behind us to help us navigate these waters.”
I’ll drink to that.
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