US craft brewer Lagunitas has launched “IPA-inspired, THC-infused sparkling water,” making parent company Heineken the first big beer brand to enter the US’ psychoactive drinks market.
Hi-Fi Hops, which was launched on Tuesday 26 June, is available in two versions — one with 10 mg of THC, and one with 5 mg of THC and 5 mg of CBD. The new product will be sold in California’s cannabis dispensaries and will be available on shelves on July 30.
Hi-Fi Hops is the result of a collaboration between AbsoluteXtracts, a manufacturer of cannabis-based products, and Lagunitas.
“The idea of being a part of a no-calorie beverage infused with cannabis seemed like a perfect next step in our product innovation, and a natural way to marry our past with our future,” said Lagunitas CEO Maria Stipp.
Jeremy Marshall, Lagunitas’ brewmaster, added: “We often dream of hops and their cannabis cousin partying together at their family reunion. We wanted to bring this party to life in a drink. We believe that it’s high-time that good beer inspired a provocative yet refreshing tasting non-alcoholic alternative – bubbly, aromatic, bitter, fruity and herbaceous with no gluten, no carbohydrates and a smidge of California sun-grown cannabis in every sip.”
Heineken acquired a 50% stake in the brewer in 2015, and since that time has worked to expand Lagunitas’ global presence, expanding existing markets in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan and creating entirely new markets in France, Mexico, Italy and Spain.
It is the first time a major brewery has successfully and legally been represented in the THC-infused beverage space, while drinks firms such as Constellation have been busy making moves to release THC-infused products of their own.
Last October, Constellation Brands bought a 9.9% stake in Canadian marijuana company Canopy Growth Corp for £141 million.
The new market has the potential to threaten the drinks industry, particularly craft beer producers, as analysts in the US have already warned that drinkers are moving away from wine and beer to no-ABV alternatives infused with THC; the psychoactive chemical component of the plant.
BDS Analytics, which provides data and market insights for cannabis producers in the US, held a webinar on Wednesday 27 June dedicated to the intersection of the cannabis and drinks industries.
“It can be very tempting to see cannabis and alcohol as a black and white issue,” Jessica Lukas at BDS, told db ahead of the session, “but the market is far more nuanced than that.”
Looking at the current cannabis market in legal US states, edibles make up 15% of sales, while drinks make up just 5%, according to the research firm.