Ceria Founder Also Says Non-Alcoholic Beer Market Will Rival Craft Brew Market
June 23, 2022
Keith Villa, the PhD brewmaster who created Blue Moon almost three decades ago
for Coors Brewing, is credited with using that beer to help introduce scores of consumers to more flavorful craft brews. Blue Moon was a gateway brew for light beer drinkers who would eventually consume everything from IPAs to Saisons as craft beer went mainstream during 2000s. In recent years, Villa has been toiling away on his latest gateway project: cannabis- infused and alcohol-free beers. Villa’s company, Ceria Brewing, relaunched its beers with
a new look this month after first introducing the brand in 2018. Villa uses a proprietary process to get Ceria’s beers to 0.0% ABV. Ceria’s lineup includes a Belgian-style white ale called Grainwave (Villa’s latest Blue Moon) and an IPA called Indiewave. Versions of these alcohol-free beers with psychoactive THC and non-psychoactive CBD are available at licensed marijuana dispensaries in Colorado and California, where the recreational use of cannabis is permitted. The beers have less than 100 calories per 12-oz can. A six-pack of Ceria’s alcohol- free beer sells for about $10. THC versions sell at regulated cannabis dispensaries for about $6 - $8 per can, plus taxes. Given the growing interest in low- and no-alcohol beers and cannabis-infused beverages, BD took the opportunity to discuss both segments with Villa, who runs the company with his wife Jodi Villa, who is CEO. The following has been edited for length and clarity...
I’m a skeptic when it comes to non-alcoholic craft beers, spirits, and wines. How big can this market get without the functional benefits of alcohol, especially when sold at about the same price?
I recently posed the question to Athletic Brewing Co-founder and CEO Bill Shufelt during a panel I moderated for Credit Suisse in New York. His non-alcoholic beer brand has raised more than $70 million since launching in 2018 and accounts for almost half of the still-small US non-alcoholic beer market. Shufelt told me that most of his consumers don’t shun alcohol. Sometimes they just need a break and they like beer. He sees lots
Canopy Growth Chief Innovation Officer Julian Cohen says the company views cannabis as a consumer product, just like beverages and snacks. He sees an opportunity for cannabis to play in a “beneficial” beverage space in which cannabis and other functional ingredients such as vitamins, antioxidants and adaptogens are blended to “deliver on the promise of what we call total mood management.” In a separate interview, Canopy Chief Product Officer Tara Rozalowsky provided an update on the company’s US business and Quatreau’s launch.
The New York Times recently published a story under the headline, “Beverages With Benefits: Do They Really Work?” The piece addressed what it described as the “flourishing” functional beverage market, made up of everything from prebiotic sodas for gut health to nootropics for brain acuity. The newspaper rightly points out that such products are an extension of the health supplement market that has generated profits for decades. As this functional beverage market grows, entrepreneurs and large beverage companies alike have been...