- Boston Beer is introducing a new line of cannabis-infused iced teas, the company said in a statement. TeaPot, the company’s first infused beverage offering, will be available in select Canadian provinces in July.
- The alcohol maker behind brands such as Truly and Sam Adams said each can of TeaPot contains five milligrams of THC. The offering is crafted to minimize any cannabis taste or aroma.
- The launch of TeaPot is the biggest move yet by beer makers to use THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, as a way to broaden their products amid changing consumer tastes.
It was only last May that Boston Beer created a subsidiary to oversee its research and innovation into nonalcoholic cannabis beverages. Now, just a year later the alcohol company is aiming to stake its claim in the nascent category.
Boston Beer noted in a statement that TeaPot will be “initially available in Canada,” a hint that it could one day bring the offering to the US, depending on efforts to decriminalize marijuana use. So far, 37 states and Washington, DC, have approved marijuana for medical use. Eighteen states and DC enacted legislation to regulate cannabis for nonmedical purposes.
Boston Beer has developed a reputation as an innovator through the launch of brands such as Truly Hard Seltzer, Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard Hard Cider. More recently it has partnered with Sauza tequila maker Beam Suntory to launch Sauza Agave Cocktails, worked with PepsiCo on a Hard Mtn Dew and created a Nordic-inspired sparkling drink called Bevy.
The debut of nonalcoholic cannabis-infused beverages comes as Boston Beer and other hard seltzer makers face a slowdown in the eleven fast-growing category. Boston Beer has been hit particularly hard, lowering projections for its Truly brand several times after admitting it overestimated demand. The reset has pummeled its stock price, which has shed roughly 70% of its value during the last year.
TeaPot is a low-risk move for Boston Beer. By testing TeaPot in Canada where cannabis use is legal, it’s able to see how consumers respond to it and make any tweaks as it watches regulatory developments in the US and worldwide. It also will allow Boston Beer to establish early market recognition among consumers for the brand, and potentially give it a first-mover advantage when new markets come online.
“TeaPot purposefully pairs the right tea with the right pot for the right occasion,” said Paul Weaver, head of cannabis beverage research at Boston Beer. “Each can is precisely dosed for social gatherings with friends and family.”
Weaver is no stranger to the cannabis space. He was previously the director of innovation for Canopy Growth, a Canada-based cannabis producer, and has prior experience providing what consumers may be looking for in cannabis-based drinks.
Alcohol makers have shown a greater willingness than large food companies to position themselves for the growth of cannabis-infused products — which industry watchers have long predicted would come.
Molson Coors has Truss USA, a joint venture with Canada-based cannabis producer Hexo. Truss USA launched a line of sparkling, nonalcoholic CBD drinks called Veryvell. Canopy Growth, which is nearly 39% owned by Corona brewer Constellation Brands, has its own line of cannabis-infused beverages and CBD waters. And AB InBev and Tilray, a producer and distributor of cannabis, partnered on non-alcohol beverages containing THC and CBD.
Even quirky brand Jones Soda revealed in March it would enter the space with the launch of Mary Jones, a collection of cannabis-infused sodas, syrups and gummies it proudly noted its Big Soda competitors wouldn’t touch. It recently announced the rollout would be delayed a few months, citing slowdowns in the supply chain.