Left Hand Brewing Launches CBD Seltzer Water

Several Colorado craft breweries have been making hard seltzer drinks as a way to soften declining beer sales, but Left Hand Brewing is twisting the formula a bit: Instead of adding booze to flavored sparkling water, the Longmont brewery is making seltzer water with CBD.

Partnering with Berthoud hemp and CBD supplier WAAYB Organics, Left Hand has created Present, a line of bubbly drinks with 20 milligrams of CBD per can, and no alcohol, sweeteners or calories. The tasteless CBD distillate is derived from industrial hemp, which contains 0.3 percent THC or less and is not intoxicating.

The seltzer craze has been strong in 2019, with drinks like White Claw becoming so popular that craft breweries such as Denver Beer Co., Oskar Blues and Upslope Brewing Company have all released seltzer lines. In July, Colorado (and possibly the country) saw its first seltzery open when Elvtd at 5280 replaced Grand Lake Brewing in Arvada. The cannabis industry has jumped in, too, with two new THC-infused seltzer brands debuting this year.

Left Hand had some struggles before seltzers took over this summer, laying off six staffers at the beginning of the year and increasing its focus on grocery store accounts as beer sales declined, according to a Westword report.

And what do you see at grocery stores now? A lot of seltzers.

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“At Left Hand, we always strive to put the best beverages possible out in the market — we’re committed to what’s best for beer and what’s best for the community,” says Lefthand president Eric Wallace in a statement announcing Present. “We look forward to offering an organic, zero-calorie option that’s free from artificial ingredients, additives or adaptogens and offers the same high standards and integrity of our beers.”

Although hemp has been federally legal since late 2018, CBD derived from the plant is still in a gray area with the United States Food and Drug Administration. Ingestible products containing CBD such as edibles, drinks and vaporizers face heavy scrutiny outside of states like Colorado, which have legalized recreational marijuana and hemp-infused foods; those products are still technically illegal when shipped across state lines, the FDA warns. That hasn’t stopped companies from doing it, though, and they generally remain out of trouble as long as they don’t make any unsubstantiated health claims about the products.

According to WAAYB co-founder Anson Mitchell, the idea for making a CBD drink with Left Hand was spawned over a few other types of beverages. “The idea for an organic CBD beverage started while sharing some beers with Eric Wallace, and it’s incredible to see that conversation evolve into a reality that consumers all over the country will enjoy,” he says.

The drinks will be available online August 12 and in stores later this summer, according to Left Hand, and will come in classic seltzer, blood orange and lemon-lime flavors. 

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Craft Brewing Inches Closer to THC and CBD Beer

Craft brewers are known for their collaborative spirit. But that’s within the walls of the beer world. When it comes to other vices — like wine, spirits and cannabis — some industry leaders have been a bit standoffish.

Boston Beer Company, the biggest “craft brewery” in the country, for instance, warned in early 2016 that marijuana legalization could hurt breweries if people spent their dollars there, and the Brewers Association has been so uncomfortable around the subject that the industry trade group has barely mentioned it in past years — though it did offer some analysis of that competition in early 2017.

But that’s changing. In July, Brewers Association economist Bart Watson surveyed members about what they are making “beyond beer.” Among the ten questions on the survey were specific queries about flavored malt beverages, hard seltzer, sake, kombucha, cider, wine and spirits. The final two questions took on the subject of cannabis directly: Are you, or would you make a beverage containing THC or CBD?

Apparently, the overwhelming response was yes.

In a letter to members this week, BA board chairman Eric Wallace — the founder of Longmont’s Left Hand Brewing — said that the organization is considering a change to its controversial three-pronged definition of what it considers to be a craft brewery, according to Brewbound, an industry blog. While the limits on size and independence would stay intact, he wrote, the BA is thinking about dropping a requirement that the majority of a craft brewery’s total production volume come from “traditional or innovative brewing ingredients.”

After evaluating 1,000 answers to Watson’s survey, the BA realized that “an increasing number of craft brewers are already experimenting with non-traditional beer offerings such as flavored malt beverages and hard seltzers. A growing number of BA members have also expressed interest in creating beverages infused with THC and CBD,” Wallace wrote, according to Brewbound. “Nearly half surveyed said they would consider producing beers containing CBD or THC should the regulatory structure change federally around those potential products.”

Coincidentally — or maybe not so coincidentally — the BA is also seeking someone to author a book on the “history, regulatory environment, agriculture, chemical properties, and use of cannabis and hemp in brewing craft beer and other beverages through an era of social change.”

While there is speculation that a change could be a thinly veiled attempt to keep Boston Beer Company in the fold (the maker of Sam Adams has moved more and more into other kinds of alcoholic beverages, like cider and hard tea), the BA itself denies that, saying the change is just reflective of changing times.

Currently, the federal government doesn’t permit breweries to make beer with THC or its non-psychoactive cousin, CBD, though there are some non-alcoholic “beers” that contain either or both. If the feds every change their minds, THC and CBD beers would probably still fit within the definition of “craft” beer.

If the BA changed its definition, though, it would certainly make room for a variety of new alcoholic beverages to be considered craft, including those with THC and CBD. BA spokeswoman Ann Obenchain stresses, however, that “no decisions about the new definition will be made until the board has weighed and discussed input from the voting members at its November 29 board meeting.”

In Colorado, Dad & Dude’s Breweria legally made a CBD-infused beer for a short time before having to discontinue it after the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau changed its mind.

New Belgium Brewing currently makes The Hemperor HPA using hemp hearts (the meat of the seed, minus the shell), “as that is all the federal government will allow,” says brewery spokesman Bryan Simpson.

“My personal take is that the BA is thinking more broadly than that as brewers get ever more experimental with their portfolios and start looking into ciders, FMBs [flavored malt beverages] and other potential hybrids,” he adds. They have recognized that “brewers are bringing a wider array of potential ingredients into their mix, and it would appear they are looking to foster that creativity.”

A proposed Farm Bill that will go before legislators in Washington, D.C., in 2019 includes a provision that would make the entire hemp plant legal for production. “The BA could well be preparing for that possibility,” Simpson says.

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Lagunitas Brewing Company Now Offering THC-Infused Beverages

The merry pranksters over at Lagunitas Brewing Company have had a long, well-documented relationship with cannabis. And now the storied counterculture brewery has crafted a THC-infused beverage after nearly two decades of paying homage to weed culture. The 25-year-old brewery behind the No. 1 selling IPA in the world announced its latest creation, Hi-Fi Hops, […]

Project X Premieres ‘Trouble Brewing’ at Cogswell College


On Saturday, January 28, Project X Productions will debut its latest student-produced animated short film, Trouble Brewing, at its homebase of Cogswell College in San Jose, California. The 3D CG project tells the story of a chance encounter between a troll and a rambunctious baby goat.

The evening event, set for 6-9 p.m., will include the film’s premiere and a panel discussion with Project X alumni to discuss their work on Trouble Brewing and their post-Cogswell careers.

Project X Productions is a unique, project-based course that exposes Cogswell students to every element of animation production, allowing them to hone their skills and experience an industry-standard production pipeline. Accepted students tackle all concept and character design, modeling, texturing, effects, rigging, lighting, rendering, animation, compositing and production management in collaboration with faculty and industry advisors.

Project X’s previous films include multiple-award winners The Offering (2010) and Worlds Apart (2011).

Trouble Brewing

Trouble Brewing

Animation Magazine

Cannabis-Beer Kickstarter Fails, But Brewing Project Moves Forward

Monday, October 24, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.

The beer was a hit at GABF earlier this month in Denver.

The beer was a hit at GABF earlier this month in Denver.

Dad & Dude’s Breweria Facebook page

If publicity was money, the owners of Dad & Dude’s Breweria in Aurora would be millionaires: the brewery has been the recipient of intense national media coverage since it received federal approval in September to make a beer infused with cannabidiol, an extract of hemp. Publications and websites from Men’s Journal and U.S. News & World Report to Fortune, Paste and Men’s Fitness have covered the story.

But the attention didn’t work in the brewery’s favor when it came to a $ 50,000 Kickstarter campaign that would have helped it fund the rollout, packaging and national distribution of the beer, General Washington’s Secret Stash. The campaign, which ended today, raised a meager $ 4,612.

“There was so much content on the Kickstarter page and in our video that I think the idea was lost. I didn’t voice it very well,” says Dude’s co-owner Mason Hembree, adding that most people may not have realized that the Kickstarter page even existed. “Most of the press was on the existence of the beer itself and the ingredients. I don’t think people realized the opportunity existed to fund the Kickstarter.”

As a result, Hembree says he will try again in 2017. In the meantime, though, he plans to move forward with the beer release — in Colorado only, to start — as soon as the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which approves beer labels, gives him the okay. “Right now, we;re working with breweries to contract with who have the capacity to fill the orders we have. We have a beautiful package, and we have a lot of distributors who want to work with us. We’re being picky.”

General Washington's Secret Stash has created quite a buzz.EXPAND

General Washington’s Secret Stash has created quite a buzz.

Dad and Dude’s Breweria

The beer itself contains cannabidiol, taken from the seed and stalk on non-THC hemp plants (meaning it can’t get you stoned) and imported into the United States — the only legal way the brewery could use cannabis. There are a few other beers that use cannabis seeds in the U.S., but none that had used CBD oils. The process of getting it approved by the TTB took about a year, Hembree says, and multiple sets of testing.

Dad & Dude’s first created a buzz in 2015 at the Great American Beer Festival when it introduced Sativa IPA, the first commercial beer made with cannabis oil. Although the hemp extract isn’t the psychoactive kind, people still lined up to try an ounce or two. This year, the brewery brought several cannabis-infused beers to the festival under a new name and with a new look. The name, General Washington’s Secret Stash, is a nod to George Washington, who was said to have grown cannabis for textile manufacturing.

The attention was overwhelming but expected, Hembree says. “I know this is what the population wants, it’s what the people want.” A few years ago, he got his hands on some market research about the overlap between beer and cannabis consumers and discovered that they had a lot in common. “They have similar mindsets about society, culture, localism. They endorse each other.”

If all goes well with the label approval, Hembree hopes to begin brewing in November, packaging in December and distributing in January.

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