Beer Man

Colorado Brewery Wins Federal Approval for Non-Psychoactive Cannabis Beer

Dad & Dudes Breweria created a huge buzz last year at the Great American Beer Festival when it introduced Sativa IPA, the first commercial beer made with cannabis oil. Although the hemp extract used in the beer isn’t the psychoactive kind — meaning it can’t get you high — people still lined up to try an ounce or two, based on curiosity, Colorado’s legal environment and pro-cannabis beliefs.

This year, the Parker brewery’s packaged-beer arm, Dudes Brews, will bring cannabis-infused beers back to the festival, October 6-8, in a big way, this time with a new name and plans to distribute them in Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and other states. The line is called General Washington's Secret Stash, which Dudes Brews says is a nod to our country's "most famous cannabis-growing rebel leader." (Washington, leader of the revolutionary forces, later grew cannabis for its textile uses.)

The spark? The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau gave Dad & Dudes the country’s first federal approval for a non-THC cannabis-infused beer. The process took about a year, says brewery co-owner Mason Hembree, since the TTB required a thorough analysis of the ingredients and the recipe before it would give formula approval for Dudes’ patent-pending process and its beer. (A spokesman for the TTB didn’t return calls seeking confirmation or comment.)

"It took forever," Hembree says, adding that the brewery had to prove that there was no THC in the beer, submit it for a variety of lab testing, and explain the process and the source of the hemp.

But the trouble is worth the effort, he explains, because Hembree is using the beer to make a point about the federal government and big pharmaceutical companies. He believes the government is aware of the possibility that cannabis could have medical benefits, but won't allow it to be studied

"The non-psychoactive compounds are so important and  have so many benefits," he says. "Part of the goal is bigger than just creating a cannabis beer. My partners, my dad, our investors — they are following suit with some of my personal beliefs, which is that cannabis should be removed from scheduling."

To bring the beer to the people, Hembree says he may begin working with a Pennsylvania-based company called Beverage 364 that helps small companies bring their ideas to market. He may also have to contract-brew General Washington's at locations outside of Colorado. But to raise the money for all of that, Dudes Brews has begun a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to put together $50,000.

"That's pivotal to the whole thing," Hembree says. "We want to create a community of support that will join the cause and change the opinions of" the rest of the United States. 

Supporters can earn a variety of rewards, including having their name printed on the side of Secret Stash six-packs. You can find out all about it at the Dudes Brews Kickstarter page

Dad & Dudes plans to serve ten beers at GABF, five with cannabis extract, including an IPA, a double IPA, a cream ale and a Berliner Weiss.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes