The philosophy of AF beers and cannabis discussed on CBC


Coverage of the US Craft Brewers Conference is supported by Rallings, Labels, Stickers and Packaging.


Photo © Brewers Association.

The great American brewer Garrett Oliver said that non-alcoholic beers presented a philosophical and emotional challenge and not just a technical challenge for him as a brewer.

Speaker at the round table Craft NA Unboxing: Pioneer Perspectives at last week’s Craft Brewers conference, the Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster and author of The Brewmaster’s Table said that despite his initial skepticism about non-alcoholic beer, he embraced them and the industry should too.

“I think maybe I come from a different direction than a lot of people,” he explained.

“I believe in alcohol,” he said. “I believe in fat the same way I believe in fat and salt. These are things that, if not taken in moderation, will kill you. I don’t eat non-fatty things. I don’t give up salt. But you have to be careful. »

He said while Brooklyn Brewery entered the category four years ago, it was COVID that saw him personally embrace the product.

“I told people we work with that I was the last person on Earth with any interest in consuming this product. I was very, very clear,” he said.

“I was also wrong.

“During the pandemic I definitely learned there was a lot of use in having non-alcoholic beer around the house and it was really fun trying to chase that bunny.”

Oliver explained that after embracing them, he discovered a continuing role he hadn’t expected.

“I started having a problem because at the end of the day I would be on my way to the gym. And my team was like ‘come and have a beer,’” he explained.

“And I have to make a decision. Either I’ll have a beer with my team or I’ll go to the gym, but I can’t do both. Because I mean, I found out the hard way that if I had even half a beer, it was the worst hour of my life.

“But now I can go to the bar and I can have this beer. I have this great overall experience with my team and it’s magic.

Young drinkers see cannabis as healthier

While Oliver believes in alcohol, the conference heard young consumers avoid it, even believing it to be more harmful than cannabis.

Oliver was joined on the panel by Keith Villa, former head brewer at MillerCoors’ Blue Moon Brewing Company and now brewmaster and co-founder of Colorado-based CERIA Brewing Company, maker of non-alcoholic and cannabis-infused beers.

Several US states have legalized marijuana, with the relaxation of regulations creating opportunities for brewers. Villa said he had seen statistics showing that more than 50% of Americans believe cannabis is healthier than alcohol.

“Which is a scary thought for major brewers and liquor producers,” he said.

“The majority of Americans believe that alcohol is less healthy than cannabis.

“It’s Americans in general; as you get older this percentage increases and up to 70% and 80% of people will say “oh, cannabis is healthy”. It’s a plant. Alcohol is terrible for my liver”.

He said it was this insight that led him to create his Range of non-alcoholic beers infused with THC.

“It’s another option for young people that we’re going to see.

“We’re going to see more and more cannabis-infused drinks, you’re going to see occasions with cannabis that used to be alcohol occasions, or maybe they’re different occasions.”

Villa said that as cannabis became legal, more people were willing to try it, although edibles – THC-infused edibles – were often preferable to smoking. However, he feels drinks were a more logical option.

“I want something more social because at the end of the day, at a wedding or a special event, you can’t toast with candy,” he joked.

“Drinks make sense to all of us,” he said. “Everyone in the Western Hemisphere, we were brought up celebrating over drinks.”

“I don’t care if it’s New World or Old World, drinks are what we drink and socialize with.

“And so it makes sense to have this type of product, beer and cannabis are another option.”

Villa’s THC-infused beers are available in Colorado and California, and he’s seen a surge in demand in the four years since he founded the company. He also wrote Brewing with cannabis: using THC and CBD in beer.

The Craft Brewers Conference ended last week.

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