Marijuana Business Magazine November-December 2019

Partnership PIONEERS I n California, Santa Rosa-based cannabis concentrate brand AbsoluteXtracts is working with Petaluma beer-maker Lagunitas Brewing Co. on a marijuana-infused beverage branded as Hi-Fi Hops. CannaCraft first partnered with Lagunitas— which is owned by Heineken International—in 2017 to create SuperCritical, a beer infused with cannabis terpenes. The alcoholic brew was released in August 2017. In the latest joint effort, Lagunitas provides sparkling hop water inspired by its flagship IPA to AbsoluteXtracts, which adds THC and CBD and distributes the nonalcoholic beverage to dispensaries. Hi-Fi Hops launched in California last year as a 10-milligram THC or 5:5 milligram THC and CBD beverage. AbsoluteXtracts launched sales of the 10-milligram THC version in Colorado, and plans are underway to sell the 5:5 milligram brew there as well. HOW IT CAME TO BE Bill Silver, president of new markets for AbsoluteXtracts’ parent company, CannaCraft, said the partnership is best described as a collaboration. The team effort came about through the proximity of the two companies—they’re located in Sonoma County—and the friendships that executives of the two businesses formed by sharing a common affinity for cannabis and beer. “It was in those nights of hanging out where the ideas of ways we might work together came together,” Silver said. “When (the partnership is) culturally in alignment and business is in alignment, it works better.” Representatives from Lagunitas toured the AbsoluteXtracts facility and, after seeing the company’s CO 2 extraction tanks, wondered what it would be like to run hops through the extraction machine. That spurred the idea to add hop-derived terpenes to vape cartridges. Then the reciprocal idea: adding cannabis terpenes to a Lagunitas beer. “They paired nicely, and it was a lot of fun,” Silver recalled. “People loved it.” That collaboration was called SuperCritical, and even though the beer didn’t contain cannabinoids, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau didn’t like it and forced it off shelves three weeks later. DEALINGWITH CHALLENGES After the beer was thwarted, the two companies pivoted. The brewmaster at Lagunitas suggested making a beverage from the days of alcohol Prohibition: a hop water that would retain the flavor of beer and could easily be infused with cannabinoids. It took the companies about four months to get the product to market. “If you ever create anything in cannabis, there are always challenges,” Silver said, referring to issues such as taste, the infusion process itself and marketing. To help create a beverage that customers would drink, Lagunitas offered the uninfused sparkling water at its tap room in Petaluma and encouraged feedback. AbsoluteXtracts (CannaCraft) and Lagunitas Brewing Co. CASE STUDY Perfect AbsoluteXtracts marries cannabis with craft brewer Lagunitas to create a nonalcoholic infused beverage By Bart Schaneman PAIRING Marijuana Business Magazine | November-December 2019 64