Beer Edition: The connection between bud and beer

A fresh buzz on an old classic


Dr. Keith Villa looks at some beer in a beaker. (Photo courtesy of CERIA Brewing Company by Michael Allen

Grayson Acri, Cannabis Reporter

On first inspection, it may seem beer and cannabis are fundamentally opposed. After all, they are made of different plants and used in different settings. You wouldn’t want to smoke a joint at a football game — I mean, you do you, but the law says no — and you wouldn’t necessarily want a beer at a jam band music festival. 

That’s where CERIA Brewing Company comes in. Co-founded by Keith Villa, Ph.D., the brewmaster behind Blue Moon, this new craft brewery is forging the ties between cannabis and beer in a new way. 


“The name is taken from Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, and she’s the profile we have on our labels,” Villa explained.

“We decided to make two beers,” Villa said, which are Grainwave, a Belgian-style white, and Indiewave, an IPA. “It is illegal to sell products that contain both alcohol and cannabis, so by necessity, we have to create products that don’t have any alcohol.” 

Neither of the beers being sold by CERIA has a drop of alcohol in them. They are sold at grocery and liquor stores with THC-free varieties in many states. 

But that’s not why you turned to the cannabis section, is it? The cannabis-infused ones are only available at dispensaries in Colorado and California as of now. There are 5 mg of THC in Grainwave and 10 mg of THC plus 10 mg of CBD in Indiewave. 

“We only use distillate THC and CBD, so you don’t get the typical cannabis terpenes,” Villa said. Terpenes are basically scents that come from plants.

Dr. Keith Villa working in a lab.
Dr. Keith Villa works in a lab. (Photo courtesy of CERIA Brewing Company by Michael Allen

“It’s the aroma fraction of almost every plant and flower,” Villa said. Cannabis users know terpenes are essential to the taste, smell and effects of a strain. The same is true for beer.

“We rely on the terpenes that are naturally in the hops and spices,” Villa said. “For example, the terpenes that are in our Belgian white include limonene from orange peel(s) and a little from coriander, so you have a really nice, pretty strong anti-stress and a relaxing feeling from those terpenes when you combine them with THC.”

This is what’s known as the entourage effect, which is currently an unproven theory, so take this with a grain of salt. Terpenes and beer, however, are well studied. 

“If you take one of the cannabinoids, such as THC, and isolate it from the plant and take it, you’ll get a buzz,” Villa said. “However, if you combine cannabinoids and terpenes, you’ll have a magnified or amplified effect as long as it’s the right cannabinoids and terpenes.”

While they share a reliance on terpenes, one massive way beer and bud depart from each other is how they’re distributed. 

“Once you have a product that has THC in it, you can’t cross state lines,” Villa explained. “You can’t make it in one place in big volumes and then ship it around the country the way you do with beer.”

This drives up the cost of cannabis bud compared to hops. 

“Even the most expensive hops are, like, dirt cheap compared to cannabis,” Villa said. “If you wanted to buy enough buds to make a 5-gallon homebrew, you’re taking easily a couple hundred for some really top-notch bud. But if you’re talking hops, even with the best hops, you’re talking just a few dollars.”

There are tons of other regulatory discrepancies between bud and beer, including specific regulations for cannabis beverages or lack thereof. 

“It’s not a requirement that products have to be pasteurized,” Villa said. “If you keep them at room temperature, the cans will start to bulge and explode eventually.” 

He explained CERIA’s beverages are all pasteurized, but remember to keep your cannabis beverages refrigerated just in case. 

“It’s just in our DNA to toast with a beverage and to socialize with a beverage,” Villa said. “I think as people become more aware that you can put cannabis into beverages and drink your cannabinoids, I think more and more people will turn to beverages.”

You can find CERIA’s infused products at certain dispensaries and THC-free ones at liquor and grocery stores.

Reach Grayson Acri at or on Twitter @Guy1376.