In 2015, a Colorado brewery successfully submitted a CBD beer recipe to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), effectively signaling to the craft beer industry that cannabis — at least in its non-psychoactive form — may just have a place in the craft beer industry.
The two crafts are growing in complexity each day, with each craft slowly absorbing more and more consumer dollars. The craft beer industry itself continues to consume more and more of big beer’s market share, while consumers seem to continue on a trend of flavor discovery — involving wholesome foods and unique combinations of flavors. A proud contributor to this flavor-focus trend: the beverage industry.
The up-and-coming cannabis industry functions similarly as an educational vessel, raking in the sales and cultivating a curious clientele that is constantly making choices with — due to prohibition — rather limited information (shout out to all the budtenders out there). That’s not to say there are not expert consumers and trendsetters; rather, just remarking that part of the industry growth functions on innovations in things like extractions, edibles, and the variety of strains, cannabinoids, and terpenes that exist within them.
I mean, five years ago CBD had barely broken large scale media coverage, even after years of mounting research. So the emergence of CBD beer, in the accepted formulations by the TTB, come at a time when the two business types and their products can mutually benefit, if only by flirting.
The fantastic convergence of the two industries has grown once more, and this time to an Oregon brewery. Indeed, recreational marijuana markets seem to have influenced this strategic alliance, but don’t worry: there is no need to live in a recreational state to get your hands on these brews (it does, for now, help).
Cultivating the CBD Beer
Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) set forth rulings in early February 2017 allowing the inclusion of hemp products — but not marijuana — within Oregon alcohol products, that is, as long as the product recipe is similarly approved by the TTB. Coalition Brewing in Oregon represents the first craft brew recipe approved in the state.
The beer not only boasts a low 5 mg dose of cannabidiol, or CBD, in every 10 ounces of the canna-crafted ale, but it works synergistically with the hops and flavors cherished within the IPA category.
After the TTB approved the recipe in Colorado for a CBD-infused brew, Coalition co-owner & head brewer Elan Walsky delved deeper into ideas of hemp beer. A renaissance in a glass, reconciling the dutiful lull of inspiring flavors, complex chemical, horticultural, biological, agricultural, and environmental sciences. Not wanting to be gimmicky, just adding CBD to a beer and calling it something special. Instead, luck would place Walsky into the same room with William Steward of Half Baked Labs, and the two would compound knowledge, refine, ferment, and the resultant Two Flowers IPA would set out as a pioneer of craft innovation.
A Tasty Tango of Hemp & Hops
Coalition set out to make something unique, and the intimate knowledge brought to the table by both Walsky and Steward placed them with more than a successful trajectory. The story of the brew begins shortly after the two met, where the test batches and recipes were examined and retooled with surgical, yet playful, precision.
The decision to introduce an IPA comes from the fact that — genetically speaking — cannabis and hops are cousins. They contain many of the same flavors, resultant of the terpene profiles remaining closely similar. Hops and hemp share the same taxonomic species, Cannabaceae, with the genus Humulus and Cannabis, respectively.
At a time when cannabis is experiencing a growth boom similar to the decade-long expansion of the craft beer market, Coalition aims to inspire friendly competition between markets, ultimately aiding the transition of the marijuana industry from a confounding legal & social irregularity to a socially accepted market. Additionally, Coalition has made sure to keep contact with the OLCC through every step. Walsky recognizes the role of industry leaders in recommending the best practice, valuing an open dialogue.
The Canna-Crafted Future
An inspired success, Coalitions Two Flowers IPA is a CBD beer that utilizes not only CBD oil, but hemp pulp. Dialing in a flavor of grassy citrus and floral aromatics; a lightly bitter, crisp West-Coast style IPA at 6% ABV that reflects the profile of the hops all while making it a new experience altogether. The brewery plans on several other canna-brews, ranging in style and strain. It is an extraordinarily exciting time to be a brewer, a grower, and a consumer — with more and more research into terpenes, cannabinoids, and brewing/ growing science. And with the recent legislative change in Oregon, the intersection of the two industries is set to begin a relationship, and only time will tell where it goes.
Coalition provides educational materials to many of their partners selling and distributing Two Flowers IPA. After all, when was knowledge not in the public best interest?