Products fortified with CBD, an abundant chemical found in the cannabis plant, have grown in popularity over the past five years due to reported health benefits for anxiety, inflammation, and pain. Bars experimented with mixing CBD and alcohol.
Association for the Cannabinoid Industry co-founder Paul Birch said in an April statement: “The size of this cannabinoid sector is now impossible to ignore” as the UK became the second largest cannabinoid market in the world after the US.
The owner of the Ladies and Gentleman Bar in Highgate, North London, William Borrell, compared the effects of CBD-infused alcohol to “when you step out of a sauna and your core is warming up and you have a feeling of wellbeing all over your body”.
Borrell, who created Dead Mans Fingers Rum, which is now available in UK supermarkets, said while there was an initial “craze” about CBD as a “miracle product” it was unlikely that CBD alcohol production would increase.
He said, “The people who did it made it to own this room, but I just don’t think anyone else will.
“I don’t think the bigger companies will be brave or innovative enough to do this
“The bigger companies tend to be pretty unsightly and have no new product development, so they’re pretty boring.”
Dwindling customer confidence
The owner of Behind the Wall in Hackney, East London, Alex Harris, said the industry “shot itself in the foot” and with the large number of “cowboy products” that contain far less CBD than advertised made the category “harmful”.
According to Harris, the CBD-infused cocktails were “always the most popular” on the bar menu before Covid. He said: “We have always had the CBD content in our products that we acknowledge on the outside of the label.
“Since it wasn’t a highly regulated industry, a lot of people viewed it as a placebo drug and something that didn’t have any noticeable effects when taken in very low doses.”
According to a YouGov survey from 2019, nearly half of all adults who bought a CBD-based product were not confident that the products were labeled with correct information.
Additionally, 48% of the population said they would be more likely to try CBD products if they could be sure that they were made to strict regulatory standards.
For Harris, CBD-infused alcohol could only make a comeback in a future when all varieties of marijuana were legalized. He said, “It is the case that the government is catching up with the market.”
A bright future?
Ben Hopkinson, the CEO of Hop King in the City of London, who launched a CBD pale ale in 2019 to bring together “beer, skateboarding and the benefits of cannabis,” said, “We don’t want to revolutionize the industry, we’re just trying to to create a product that people like. “
Hopkinson hoped the benefits of CBD in reducing anxiety and inflammation would attract customers, saying, “If everyone across the country were drinking CBD pale ale, I can be sure there would be less fighting on a Saturday night.”
While Hopkinson was “cautiously optimistic” about a bright future for CBD beer, he said that “it will only ever be a niche beer”.
“It could be a gateway to entering the CBD space, and people can then find other ways to consume it, be it vape, tea, or oil,” said Hopkinson.
He added, “We’re not trying to force it down people’s throats, we’re not trying to tell everyone should try.
“If you’re open to learning a little more about CBD, give it a try. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. “
Jack Hibberd, the managing director of Hop & Hemp, which sells non-alcoholic CBD beers, said that while the blend of CBD and alcohol offered “no real benefits,” the market for non-alcoholic CBD beverages would continue to grow as products like CBD – Rubbers became more mainstream.
Hibberd said the hops and hemp beers launched in 2019 were popular and generated “really strong repeat sales” from a core group that “want to come back and buy”. [the product] again and again because they use it every day. “
He said, “It’s a sector that we see growing.”