Lagunitas Launches a Cannabis Beer

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Last week, Lagunitas Brewing Co launched its SuperCritical Ale, a hoppy beer that is brewed with terpenes, which is an aromatic compound of oils that are extracted from plants, including marijuana and hops. The beer is only available in select locations in California for a limited time and consists of no THC.

Lagunitas is based in Chicago and Petaluma, Calif., got the terpenes from Santa Rosa-based CannaCraft Inc., a cannabis-extract manufacturing facility that has established itself in the newly legalized industry despite being raided by police in 2016.

In exchange, Lagunitas helped CannaCraft in developing new vaping products for its AbsoluteXtracts line, which does have THC in it. CannaCraft included terpenes that come from hops in the new products, with Lagunitas brewers giving guidance on getting a beer-like aroma for the high-inducing marijuana.

It should be available for sale in about five weeks, stated Dennis Hunter, CannaCraft founder.
The partnership is the latest example of businesses outside the marijuana sector looking for new years to take advantage of interest in marijuana, which becomes legal for recreational use January 2018.

According to projections, California’s annual cannabis crop is valued at $7 billion, making it the state’s most valuable agricultural crop.

Breweries and wineries have to tread lightly, as marijuana is still illegal according to federal law. Those businesses do not want to risk losing their federal license by selling marijuana on premise or infusing a cannabis extract with THC in their product.

The collaboration is an indication of businesses looking to benefit on the rapidly growing pot industry, Hunter stated: “I think it’s going to open the door for partnerships and more business looking to our industry as a legal industry.”

Lagunitas may have been a natural partner; it has had a marijuana-friendly sentiment since it was founded in 1993. Its Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale commemorates a 2005 St. Patrick’s Day raid by state Alcohol Beverage Control agents to arrest employees smoking marijuana at the Petaluma plant.

Jeremy Marshall, the brewer for Lagunitas, reported he valued working with CannaCraft, particularly its high-tech labs that conduct the extraction process using pressurized carbon dioxide.

As beer drinkers want to explore the newest versions of hoppy India Pale Ales, Marshall said terpenes could play a vital role in creating unique aromas and mouth feels to a drink.

For SuperCritical, Marshall used terpenes from the Blue Dream and Girl Scout Cookie cannabis strains, which were combined with seven different hop strains. The beer has 6.6% alcohol by volume, rather low for Lagunitas.

“I think it will be no different than other mainstays in my spice rack I can use,” Marshall stated of terpenes.

Hunter said terpenes are a growing cannabis category that is proable to expand in terms of marketplace acceptance. They could work especially well as an aroma and flavor enhancement for food, he added.

“A few years ago … it was hardly talked about,” Hunter added of terpenes. “It’s the buzzword everywhere now.”

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