Cannabis Beer Brewer Prepares for National Distribution

A Colorado company says it has cleared a major hurdle to distribute cannabis infused beer nationwide, and that it’s developed the business relationships necessary to rapidly scale up production to meet what could be enormous demand.

The company, Aurora-based Dad and Dude’s Breweria, says it has received federal formula approval for an extract-infused beer variety from the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which acts as gatekeeper for interstate beer sales.

The bureau still must approve a label for the beer, but that is seen as a lower hurdle. Once label approval is given, the company can begin sales beyond Colorado state lines.

Mason Hembree, president and co-owner of Dad and Dude’s, says the small, family owned company is ready for potentially explosive growth.

The company initially is partnering with a Colorado brewer that can make 10,000 barrels annually, he says, and has teamed up with a national brewer group with excess capacity, expanding potential production to at least 100,000 barrels (31 gallons each) – enough for more than 5 million six-packs of 12-ounce bottles.

“We are actually prepared to get this product out to everyone who wants it within the first year,” Hembree says. “We have bars and liquor stores – not to mention distributors – across the country just clamoring to have the opportunity to distribute this because they see the future as well.”

What makes the company’s beer unique from hemp beers that have been on the national market for years, Hembree says, is that it’s made with an extract from the stalk and stem of cannabis plants, and explicitly contains various cannabis compounds.

The cannabinoids in the brew include cannabidiol (CBD), a substance used by some as a treatment for epilepsy but with a broader potential benefit portfolio; smaller amounts of cannabinol (CBN), an analgesic that can induce drowsiness; cannabigerol (CBG), known as an anti-inflammatory; and various terpenes, aromatic compounds whose effects are receiving increasing attention.

Hemp seeds, long approved for inclusion in beer making, generally contain just trace amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Hembree says the extract he’s adding to beer is legal across the U.S. and does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary high-inducing compound in cannabis. He told Men’s Journal each pint will contain about 4 milligrams of cannabinoids, and that the extract is added late enough in the brewing process that it won’t become denatured.

Tom Hogue, a spokesman for the TTB, says generally once a brewer gets formula and label approval, it can sell across state lines pursuant to local laws. But Hogue declined to confirm that the Colorado company has received formula approval or that it is the first to win approval for use of a non-seed cannabis extract, citing strict disclosure rules.

Hogue also declined to provide the number of brewers that have formula approval for beers containing cannabis, citing disclosure rules and his personal workload.

By Steven Nelson

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