A Pabst Blue Ribbon-branded cannabis-infused seltzer has launched in California by former Pabst Brewing employees, CNN Business reports. The alcohol company has no financial stake in the cannabis company – Pabst Labs – did not receive any money for the licensing, and will not receive any proceeds from the beverage sales.
Seamus Gallagher, Pabst Blue Ribbon’s senior brand manager, told CNN that the company’s community has been requesting that they do something in the cannabis space but the firm can’t produce cannabis-infused beverages in-house “until the legal landscape changes.”
The deal will allow Pabst Brewing to test a branded product in the emerging cannabis industry without much risk, Britt Bulla, senior strategy director at global branding firm Siegel+Gale, told CNN.
“This is the birth of a new category. I think this is the time when these brands are going to be forming out exactly how we’re going to be enjoying cannabis over time.” – Bulla to CNN Business
Pabst Labs was founded two years ago and initially sold seltzers in about a dozen dispensaries. The company said it planned to distribute the product to about 30 dispensaries by the end of the month.
“No other brands in the category can really claim a 175-year history,” Mark Faicol, Pabst Labs’ brand manager, told CNN Business.
While Pabst Brewing is dipping its toes into the cannabis sector with the agreement, other alcohol companies and brewers have already entered the space. Constellation Brands Inc., which distributes Svedka vodka and Corona beer, owns a 38.6 percent stake in Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth Corp. In April, Molson Coors Brewing Company announced a partnership with Canada-based Hexo – Truss CBD USA – for CBD-infused beverages in Colorado. In 2018, Keith Villa, developer of Blue Moon Belgian Wheat, announced plans for a THC-infused non-alcoholic brew. In 2017, Vermont-based Long Trail Brewing Company announced a small-batch beer using CBD-infused honey, while California’s Lagunitas Brewing Company unveiled its Supercritical IPA which was infused with cannabis terpenes but neither THC nor CBD. Lagunitas, a Heineken subsidiary also launched its THC- and CBD-infused Hifi Hops sparking beverage in 2018.
In 2018, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer company, announced a partnership with Canadian cannabis company Tilray for cannabis-infused beverage research.