Heineken is betting on a brew made with marijuana instead of alcohol, and it could help give a boost to the struggling beer industry
Erin Brodwin / Business Insider
- Heineken's new brew, from California beer brand Lagunitas, is made with marijuana instead of alcohol.
- Hi-Fi Hops is currently only available in a select number of dispensaries in California, where cannabis is legal.
- It's part of a growing trend of established companies diving into the marijuana industry.
Lagunitas, Heineken's fast-growing California beer label, bills its new brew as "hoppy sparkling water."
That's because these cans of brew contain zero alcohol. Instead of booze, the beer is made with THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Called Hi-Fi Hops, Lagunitas' new cannabis drink is the latest wave of a larger move by established companies diving into the marijuana industry. In addition to a brew made with THC, the ingredient in marijuana that causes a high, Lagunitas' new beer is also available with CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabis component that's thought to be responsible for many of its therapeutic effects.
Having only launched on July 30, the brew is currently available in a handful of marijuana dispensaries in California, where the drug is legal. So we visited Oakland's Harborside dispensary, located on the East Bay peninsula between the neighborhoods of Fruitvale and Downtown Oakland, to check out the new $8 drink.
On a Friday afternoon, Oakland cannabis dispensary Harborside was packed. After waiting in line for roughly 30 minutes, we got a look at a display case where Hi-Fi Hops was featured beside some other edible cannabis treats.
There's one big drawback compared with other beers: You can't drink it at a bar.
The drink is made in special cans that require a little finagling to get right — you pop the tab at the top, then slide to open.
Lagunitas says the brew is made to taste a bit like regular beer: hoppy, clean, and bubbly.
Despite only being available in dispensaries, the beer was conveniently portable, which is something you can't say about all currently available cannabis products.
The Lagunitas brew is currently available in two varieties. One is purely THC, with 10mg per can (roughly the same as you'd find in an edible like a gummy); the other is a hybrid variety with 5mg of THC and 5mg of CBD.
Heineken's move into "beer" made with CBD and THC instead of alcohol is strategic.
There has long been mainstream awareness of THC, marijuana's main psychoactive compound.
Besides beer-like drinks, a range of CBD products made from hemp are popping up in stores around the country.
Putting a cannabis product in a beverage is a smart move for another reason, too: it could help save the struggling beer and soda industry.
In recent years, many major beer labels — including Heineken — have been plagued by what analysts say is a lack of interest among millennials.
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