A South African brewer has used the revered Durban Poison strain to create the country’s first cannabis-infused craft beer.
The Constitutional Court of South Africa legalized cannabis for recreational use last month and Poison City Brewing celebrated by brewing the sativa-infused lager. It is 4% abv and also includes hemp oils to create a buzz that is said to be energetic and uplifting. Durban Poison lager is described as “a light-bodied, easy-drinking beer perfect for hot weather or chilling next to the beach.” It does not contain THC, but the hemp oil is sure to make drinkers feel “happy”, the brewer promised.
Alcohol industry insiders speak in fearful tones about cannabis stealing “share of buzz” from their popular beers, wines, and spirits. It is a huge concern for several multinational corporations, but some are reacting more proactively to the inexorable rise of the regulated marijuana industry.
Molson Coors and Constellation Brands, two of the world’s largest alcohol suppliers, have invested heavily in the cannabis industry, teaming up with Canopy Growth and Hydropothecary, respectively. Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff producer Diageo is circling for a cannabis industry partner, while Absolut supplier Pernod Ricard is monitoring the industry keenly. Even the soft drinks industry is getting involved in the action, with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo both confirming an interest in this burgeoning market.
Cam Battley, chief corporate officer of Aurora Cannabis, was in London this week and he told a rapt audience of investors that cannabis will soon become a larger industry than brewing. “Beer has no legitimate medical applications, no matter what we tell ourselves on a Friday evening,” he said.
The drinks trade likes to talk up the health benefits of moderate consumption of alcohol. Studies have suggested that moderate drinkers live longer than teetotallers, but there is no definitive scientific proof underpinning this. The drinks trade is actually under threat from a well-mobilized anti-alcohol lobby that is enjoying great success across the world in limiting the availability, increasing the price, and cutting the advertising of alcohol.
Meanwhile, cannabis is proven to have a number of medicinal properties, with millions of people across the globe using it to treat a range of conditions, from epilepsy and cancer to ADHD and PTSD. The alcohol industry would kill for that sort of link to health and wellness, but it is not going to happen. Cannabis sales are going up and alcohol sales are going down. Some alcoholic drinks producers are adopting the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach, and the likes of Molson Coors, Diageo, and Constellation could become major players in the cannabis industry.
A recent New York University study discovered a 700% rise in marijuana use among the 65-plus age group. The study’s authors noted that the older generation is expected to be big on edibles and infused beverages in order to protect their lungs. These huge multinational drinks producers have vast experience in producing, marketing and distributing beers, wines and spirits, and that can easily be transferred to marijuana-infused beverages. They’re well aware of how potentially lucrative this market can be, and we’re likely to see a number of them muscling their way into the cannabis industry.
In the meantime, Durban Poison’s brewer is off to Miami to whip up interest in the US, but it could be blown out of the water when the producers of Coors Light and Guinness properly take the plunge.