Rarely does a new beverage come along that promises to shake up an entire industry or create another segment entirely. In this case, de-alcoholized craft beer with cannabis. The idea of combining the pleasant sensations of THC with the popularity of something so democratic and socially acceptable as craft beer is the brainchild of former Blue Moon brewmaster Keith Villa, Ph.D. who, along with his wife, Jodi Villa, founders of Arvada, Colo.-based CERIA, Inc., are introducing CERIA™ Grainwave™ Belgian-Style White Ale infused with THC.

The two formed CERIA, Inc. (rhymes with “area”) in January 2018 to introduce a line of non-alcoholic craft beverages to be infused with THC, a key psychoactive ingredient from cannabis plants that affects how one feels by creating the unique sensation – the “high” – associated with marijuana.     

For almost a year, the Villas have been on a mission to redefine the way society thinks about and engages with cannabis. Their answer is to combine it with beer, one of the most socially acceptable beverage categories worldwide.

To that end, CERIA Inc., doing business as CERIA Brewing Company, will launch a limited edition First Release of de-alcoholized Grainwave Belgian-Style White Ale in Colorado in mid-December. Each 10-oz. (296 ml) serving will contain precise 5 mg doses of fast-acting THC with a similar onset time as alcohol.

It is anticipated that future CERIA releases will contain infusions ranging from 2.5 to 10 mg of THC as the brand launches new beer styles and expands from Colorado to California, Nevada, and other states where the use of recreational marijuana has been legalized.

The Villas, both University of Colorado graduates and native Coloradans, note that CERIA Grainwave, containing malted wheat, oats, Hallertauer Tradition hops from Germany, along with both blood orange peel and coriander, will come in at 64 calories, two-thirds less caloric than traditional craft beer.

“By infusing a great tasting craft beer with THC, we’ll empower all adults over age 21 to tap into the magic of cannabis through this new spin on a Belgian classic,” Dr. Villa says, pointing to the brand’s slogan, Cannabis pro Omnibus™ (“Cannabis for All”).

He continued, “For those who desire the sensations of marijuana, cannabis de-alcoholized craft beer represents a more socially acceptable way to consume THC, certainly more socially acceptable than smoking a joint, or consuming a sugary edible. The THC-infused non-alcoholic craft beer consumer can join the party without feeling ostracized. Besides, it’s a lot more refreshing.”    

First Release:    

CERIA’s first release will be brewed and de-alcoholized under Dr. Villa’s guidance and exact specifications. Next step is infusion with 5 mg doses of THC at a licensed marijuana infused products (MIP) facility in Denver just prior to bottling, pursuant to Colorado Retail Marijuana Code and corresponding rules.

Cases of CERIA Grainwave will come off the line in early December and arrive on dispensary shelves soon thereafter. The expected retail price will be approximately $9 per bottle, under $36 for a 4-pack. This is similar to the price range of a quality craft beer served in a restaurant or tavern.

An American Light Lager and an IPA are planned to be released by Q1 2019.

Packaging will adhere to all Colorado regulations including product tracking data and a THC warning. Consumers must be a minimum age of 21 and will be reminded to experience CERIA responsibly.

Doug Christoph, CERIA’s chief marketing officer explains, “The package is a subtle blend of the two worlds the brand inhabits – cannabis and beer. This establishes both its beer credentials and the pleasant sensations of cannabis.

“The midnight blue color and traditional typeface convey a trustworthy tone, and the golden yellow color is a recognized beer cue in packaging. These are balanced by the modern interpretation of Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest, upon whose head sits a cannabis-leaf and hops crown. Beer style and THC level information are labeled side-by-side against a complementary lighter blue background to draw the eye and to enhance shopability,” Christoph says.

“The three beer styles and THC levels will be easily distinguishable from one another and will be highly legible from behind the dispensary counter and inside the cooler.”

Keith Villa is one of the few people in the world to receive a doctorate in brewing science based upon his dissertation on complex biochemical reactions in beer. Dr. Villa was the creator and head brewmaster of Blue Moon Brewing Company until his retirement from MillerCoors in January 2018 after 32 years of service. His wife Jodi is a civil engineer who serves as CERIA, Inc.’s CEO.

CERIA, Inc., a Delaware C corporation, is headquartered in Arvada, Colorado. For more information: Ceriabrewing.com.

Intercontinental Beverage Capital (IBC), based in New York, is providing CERIA Brewing Company with services in the areas of business strategy and planning, brand development, operations, commercialization and investment guidance. For more information: Inbevcapital.com.

CERIA tapped brand strategy and design firm Trinity Brand Group, Berkeley, Calif., to develop its brand identity system, packaging, website and product naming. For more information: Trinitybrandgroup.com.

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