Colorado-headquartered Ceria Beverages plans to begin selling its THC-infused, non-alcoholic beers in Southern California within the next 90 days, according to co-founder Keith Villa.
Ceria, which last December launched its first THC-infused, dealcoholized beer Grainwave in Colorado, is partnering with Canadian cannabis co-packing company Growpacker to infuse, package and distribute its products throughout Southern California.
Founded last year by Blue Moon creator Villa and wife, Jodi, Ceria is the first company to participate in Growpacker’s recently launched cannabis brand incubator and accelerator program. A new co-packing facility, which is currently under construction in Desert Hot Springs, California, is capable of producing as much as 645 barrels of beer a day and is expected to be operational within the next two months.
As part of the deal, Growpacker, which contract manufacturers THC- and CBD-infused edibles and beverages in the U.S., has acquired an undisclosed minority stake in Ceria. Villa told Brewbound that he and Jodi will remain the majority stakeholders.
“We’re forming strategic partnerships,” he said. “At Ceria, we’re about building a brand — a strong, consumer-driven brand, whereas some of our competitors are busy buying up craft breweries to produce beer. We feel our money is best spent building out a strong brand.”
Villa was referencing companies such as Cannabiniers — maker of the Two Roots line of CBD- and THC-infused non-alcoholic craft beers — which, as Brewbound previously reported, acquired Colorado’s Dad & Dudes Breweria and has signed letters of intent to acquire three additional craft breweries. In contrast, Ceria currently contract brews and dealcoholizes its liquid at Sleeping Giant Brewing Company in Denver and O’Fallon Brewing in St. Louis. In Colorado, the company works with Keef Bottling to infuse its non-alcoholic beer with THC.
Villa declined to speculate on how much product Ceria would produce and sell in California.
“I don’t think anybody has a clue how big the California market is in regards to cannabis beer,” he said. “We hope to produce as much as we can for that market.”
Nevertheless, Villa said he believes sales of recreational cannabis products in California could grow to be larger than the entire Canadian market.
Through Growpacker, Ceria will have access to about 450 dispensaries, which CEO Stephen Boyd said accounts for about “90 percent” of the market.
“We anticipate a pretty good velocity to market just through our distribution platform,” he added.
Villa, citing expanded distribution in California and a potential foray into Nevada, said he anticipates Ceria’s volume will be “significant” by the end of the year. In Colorado, he said Ceria’s business has doubled since its first product was released on December 20.
Last November, Growpacker announced Villa joined the company as a “strategic advisor” on cannabis-infused beverages.
Meanwhile, Boyd said as many as 40 cannabis companies could initially be involved in Growpacker’s incubator and accelerator program. Growpacker will handle procurement, logistics, manufacturing and distribution for those companies in the state.
In California, Growpacker is partnering with Gordon Biersch for contract production for large producers, while leveraging production at smaller facilities for smaller-batch production, Boyd said. Additionally, the company is partnering with BevZero to dealcoholize beverage offerings.
In exchange for its various services, Growpacker acquires equity stakes in the incubator companies. Boyd described the arrangement as a swap of services for a share of the business.
Those stakes would vary depending on the size of the company and its stage of development, Growpacker vice president of business development John Kanakis told Brewbound. He added that the company’s goal “is to own the largest [cannabis] brand portfolio in North America.”
Meanwhile, Sunday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal noted cannabis beverage companies are facing an issue beyond route to market — bad taste. According to the Journal, oily cannabis extracts do not mix with water and several companies, including major beer companies, are working to produce better tasting cannabis-infused beverages. Read it here.
A press release with additional details is included below.
Growpacker Inc. Launches Cannabis Brand Incubator and Accelerator Program in California, Welcomes CERIA Brewing Company as First Launch Partner
CERIA Brewing, the Colorado craft brewery founded by Keith Villa, former brewmaster of Blue Moon, to launch THC-infused craft beer in California
TORONTO, ONTARIO – Growpacker Inc. (“Growpacker” or the “Company”), a contract manufacturer of THC- and CBD-infused edibles and beverages in the United States, has announced the launch of its Brand Incubator and Accelerator Program, designed to fast-track both THC and CBD brands sold in California.
The first participating company in the program is CERIA Brewing Company (CERIA), led by co-founders, Jodi Villa, CEO, and Keith Villa, creator and former brewmaster of America’s #1 craft beer, Blue Moon Belgian White. Growpacker anticipates CERIA can quickly become a market leader for dealcoholized cannabis-infused beer in North America, due to the founders’ unique brewing process, custom formulations, great tasting brews and partnerships with top industry advisors.
The new Brand Incubator and Accelerator Program gives Growpacker manufacturing partners the opportunity to leverage the Company’s industry expertise, gain early access to new formulations, receive discounted services and fast-track their market penetration in California. Growpacker retains an equity interest in the participating brands and companies, strategically aligning the interests of both parties and positioning Growpacker as a brand portfolio company, in addition to leading co-packer.
“We look forward to introducing this innovative new product category to America’s largest cannabis market through Growpacker’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and distribution network,” said Keith Villa. “As the leading co-packer in cannabis, Growpacker is helping tomorrow’s brand names grow and scale commercially, while also accelerating the evolution of California’s adult-use market.”
CERIA’s Grainwave Belgian Style White Ale, a THC-infused dealcoholized craft beer, was introduced in Colorado in December 2018. The company’s first limited production run immediately sold out, and the brand is experiencing increasing consumer enthusiasm and trial. Growpacker and CERIA are planning to officially launch the beverage in California soon.
In May 2018, CERIA announced its partnership with respected global beverage industry advisors InterContinental Beverage Capital (IBC), to help commercialize the product and secure distribution. IBC has deep executive experience with companies such as Molson Coors, Coca-Cola, Anheuser Busch, Diageo, Red Bull and other global and U.S. beverage companies.
“As our first incubator and accelerator brand, CERIA Brewing Company arrives at a transformational stage in our company’s evolution,” said Stephen Boyd, CEO of Growpacker. “We are excited to begin this journey with CERIA, and work with their talented team as they move their momentum across the country, establishing their market presence in California. We have seen tremendous interest in this incubator program and look forward to building one of North America’s largest portfolios of innovative cannabis brands.”
In addition to being part of Growpacker’s incubator and accelerator program, Keith Villa will serve as a strategic advisor to Growpacker for its cannabis beverage category, where he will play a key role in developing the dealcoholized THC-infused beverage segment, which is expected to become one of the fastest growing segments in the industry.
Growpacker Inc., is a Canadian based company which, through its American interest in GP Holdings LLC, is engaged in expanding the ancillary side of the California cannabis industry through offering local and international brands key services such as formulation, manufacturing, co-packing, and distribution of THC and CBD infused beverages and edibles within the State of California. In addition to its core co-packing business, Growpacker also operates an incubator and accelerator program that fast tracks emerging cannabis brands and ancillary companies in California.