Several Colorado craft breweries have been making hard seltzer drinks as a way to soften declining beer sales, but Left Hand Brewing is twisting the formula a bit: Instead of adding booze to flavored sparkling water, the Longmont brewery is making seltzer water with CBD.
Partnering with Berthoud hemp and CBD supplier WAAYB Organics, Left Hand has created Present, a line of bubbly drinks with 20 milligrams of CBD per can, and no alcohol, sweeteners or calories. The tasteless CBD distillate is derived from industrial hemp, which contains 0.3 percent THC or less and is not intoxicating.
The seltzer craze has been strong in 2019, with drinks like White Claw becoming so popular that craft breweries such as Denver Beer Co., Oskar Blues and Upslope Brewing Company have all released seltzer lines. In July, Colorado (and possibly the country) saw its first seltzery open when Elvtd at 5280 replaced Grand Lake Brewing in Arvada. The cannabis industry has jumped in, too, with two new THC-infused seltzer brands debuting this year.
Left Hand had some struggles before seltzers took over this summer, laying off six staffers at the beginning of the year and increasing its focus on grocery store accounts as beer sales declined, according to a Westword report.
And what do you see at grocery stores now? A lot of seltzers.
“At Left Hand, we always strive to put the best beverages possible out in the market — we’re committed to what’s best for beer and what’s best for the community,” says Lefthand president Eric Wallace in a statement announcing Present. “We look forward to offering an organic, zero-calorie option that’s free from artificial ingredients, additives or adaptogens and offers the same high standards and integrity of our beers.”
Although hemp has been federally legal since late 2018, CBD derived from the plant is still in a gray area with the United States Food and Drug Administration. Ingestible products containing CBD such as edibles, drinks and vaporizers face heavy scrutiny outside of states like Colorado, which have legalized recreational marijuana and hemp-infused foods; those products are still technically illegal when shipped across state lines, the FDA warns. That hasn't stopped companies from doing it, though, and they generally remain out of trouble as long as they don't make any unsubstantiated health claims about the products.
According to WAAYB co-founder Anson Mitchell, the idea for making a CBD drink with Left Hand was spawned over a few other types of beverages. “The idea for an organic CBD beverage started while sharing some beers with Eric Wallace, and it’s incredible to see that conversation evolve into a reality that consumers all over the country will enjoy,” he says.
The drinks will be available online August 12 and in stores later this summer, according to Left Hand, and will come in classic seltzer, blood orange and lemon-lime flavors.
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