After 32 years brewing beer for one of the world's largest alcohol companies, Keith Villa is going green.
In 1995, Villa founded Blue Moon, the Molson Coors-owned wheat beer largely credited with bringing the craft beer craze to a mainstream audience. Now, after retiring from the booze industry in January, Villa has announced his newest venture, Ceria Beverages, a THC-infused brewed beverage scheduled to hit Colorado's adult-use cannabis market this year.
Villa is the latest in a long line of alcohol brands and bigwigs taking their talents to America's burgeoning green rush, following in the footsteps of Anheuser-Busch executive-turned-ganjapreneur Chris Burggraeve, Corona parent company Constellation Brands, and breweries like Lagunitas and Fat Tire (which have both experimented with adding non-psychoactive cannabis terpenes to beer).
But unlike Burggraeve, who has invested in a number of California cannabis companies, including a pre-roll producer, Villa is carrying his decades of brewing experience into Ceria, with plans to produce a marijuana-infused beer — minus the alcohol.
According to a press release announcing the Centennial State company, Villa and his wife, Jodi Villa, will team up with local cannabinoid research firm ebbu to develop water-soluble "formulations." These will then be added to traditionally-brewed beer that's had its alcohol removed, much like current commercially sold non-alcoholic beers. Under Colorado's adult-use and medical marijuana regulations, THC and alcohol cannot be sold in the same product.
Villa claims that Ceria will be the world's first cannabis beverage that is brewed like a beer without losing its THC concentration. That said, there are others who've been experimenting with similar techniques, including Lisa Molyneux of Canna Vine.
"I'm ready to introduce another high-impact brand to the industry again, this time with a new line of custom cannabis-infused craft beers," Villa said. "Today, the opportunity and the demand are here, inviting Americans to enjoy a more social way of consuming cannabis — by drinking rather than by smoking it or through ingestion of edibles."
In addition to the new method of cannabis-infused brewing, Villa said that his non-alcoholic bud beer will get users high at the same rate that a traditional beer would get a consumer drunk.
Villa has yet to announce a firm release date for Ceria's new concoction, but he expressed confidence that the new brew would hit Colorado dispensary shelves by the end of this year.
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