Introducing the World of Cannabis Beverages With Paul Weaver of TeaPot

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Dec 14, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Introducing the World of Cannabis Beverages With Paul Weaver of TeaPot

Paul Weaver
Introducing the World of Cannabis Beverages With Paul Weaver of TeaPot 11

Meet Paul Weaver, The Head of Cannabis at the Boston Beer Company. With over a decade in the beverage industry, he started in Toronto’s beer business before joining Canopy Growth Corporation in 2017. There, he led innovation, playing a crucial role in launching recreational cannabis in Canada. Paul’s expertise in cannabis beverages brought him to the Boston Beer Company, where he continues to shape the future of this evolving market.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Explore the decision-making process behind Boston Beer Company’s entry into the cannabis beverage category
  • Delve into the intricacies of crafting a cannabis beverage
  • Get an exclusive look at TeaPot’s accessible lineup
  • Uncover the complexities of cannabis distribution, understanding TeaPot’s availability in Canada and the United States
  • Understand the unique marketing challenges in the cannabis industry
  • Explore Canada’s progressive relationship with cannabis
  • Explore the taste and efficacy considerations in cannabis beverages
  • Navigate legal restrictions in Canada and the explicit laws preventing alcohol brands from extending into cannabis
  • Paul’s vision for the ready-to-drink cannabis drink category over the next 10 years
  • Uncover the differences between THC-based and hemp-based drinks
  • A thought-provoking discussion on advocacy, legal preparation, and flexibility in the ever-evolving cannabis beverage industry

In this episode with Paul Weaver

Tune in with us in this interesting episode with Paul Weaver of TeaPot. Explore the genesis of TeaPot, Boston Beer Company’s foray into the rising cannabis beverage market. From tackling potency challenges to demystifying marijuana through accessible flavors, Paul discusses the unique aspects of TeaPot.

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks is joined by Paul Weaver, Head of Cannabis at the Boston Beer Company. Discover the journey of TeaPot’s lineup, the evolving perceptions of cannabis in Canada, and the legal intricacies of marketing. Gain insights into the future of the cannabis drink category, the impact of hemp-based drinks, and the ethical considerations in product sourcing. This episode offers a concise yet comprehensive look at the TeaPot brand, the cannabis beverage industry, and the evolving landscape of advocacy and legal preparedness.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

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[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Drew Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft. On the show, we talked to leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Today we have a very special guest on the show, Paul Weaver. He’s the Head of Cannabis for the Boston Beer Company. Welcome to the show, Paul.

[00:00:14] Paul Weaver: Drew, thanks for having me. I just found out that I’m your first cannabis guest and I’m just so flattered and honored to break the ice there. So thanks for stopping the stigma and bringing in a little bit of a weed talk.

[00:00:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, I’ve been excited to have one on the show for some time. I’m very excited about this and we’re based out of California and I have to say, I’ve partaken a lot of cannabis beverages and it’s a really growing category.

So talk to me about Boston Beer Company and how they decided to move into this category.

[00:00:45] Paul Weaver: Well, I think, you know, Boston Beer Company, to your listeners is hopefully needs no introduction, but I’ll do the preamble anyway, you know, we’re the brewers of Sam Adams and Twisted Tea, Angry Orchard, Cider, Truly Hard Seltzer, real hitmakers in the beverage alcohol space.

And as, as cannabis becomes more and more welcomed into American lives, you know, we’re mindful of that macro consumer trend that there there’s this new comparable alternative to alcohol that’s continuing to present itself and becoming more and more destigmatized. And at the same time, you know, Covid and just general life has caused a lot of drinkers to kind of rethink their relationship with alcohol.

So it’s this interesting convergence of 2 macro trends of, you know, consumer and drinkers’ relationship with alcohol evolving at the same time as their access to an acceptance of cannabis continues to grow. So it’s really us continuing to be the most, striving to be the most innovative beverage company we can be and capitalizing on two macro consumer trends.

[00:01:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I think is the, and that’s ready to drink category. It’s inescapable, especially in those states and provinces in Canada where recreational cannabis is legal. Like, I go into the, you know, the places here in Cal, in San Diego, and suddenly there’s coolers filled up. And it seems like every major brand is breaking into the category.

Just seems unavoidable and actually just a great, great evolution.

[00:02:20] Paul Weaver: Well, you live in California and one of the things that plagues these legacy or, or kind of more tenured legal cannabis markets is commoditization. You know, there’s just so much, it’s called weed for a reason that grows so easily and you can easily find yourself with a glut of product and the pricing per gram or per package of, you know, whole flour or traditional cannabis tends to drop like a commodity.

It’s like a cash crop. And what, you know, more mature cannabis companies are realizing is there’s a lot of value to be engineered here by taking this, you know, agricultural product and turning it into a high-value consumer good, like a, like a beverage or a gummy and beverages are the most conspicuous form of cannabis consumption.

They’re a label out, you know, it’s a logo that’s facing. It takes a few minutes or 10, 20 minutes to consume, as opposed to a couple of bites of a gummy. And so there’s a lot of branding opportunities as well that are really exciting. So it’s, it’s exciting to the cannabis industry because it’s one, the antithesis of commoditization, which is continuing to plague all cannabis markets.

And, it’s a highly brandable, conspicuous consumption experience, which, which for beverage companies like us is, is right in our wheelhouse.

[00:03:35] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, yeah. Now I’m just going to jump straight to the question I really want to ask because one of the beefs that I have with all the beverages that I see in the coolers is the potencies.

All over the place and to the average, to the casual consumer or to the novice, you get one can that has 10 milligrams, one can that has five and that doesn’t equate to anything. And I see a lot of people that they may want to have 2 to 3, which would not be recommended. Talk to me about how does, how do you guys come up with the potency of your can?

[00:04:06] Paul Weaver: Well, so Boston Beer, when we were entering the cannabis space, you know, we’re, you know, beer is our middle name. And what do we mean by that? Well, even though we sell hard teas and ciders and seltzers, beer is a drink of moderation. Beer is a drink of sociability. It’s about sharing those experiences with your friends and your family.

And that’s how we wanted to approach cannabis. So what is the right potency of a product? What’s the right flavor of a product? So first it was about creating the right kind of brand story. So we created our own cannabis brand. It’s called TeaPot and TeaPot is a line of cannabis-infused ice teas. Great tasting.

They don’t taste like cannabis. They don’t smell like cannabis. So they’re very welcoming. They’re very inclusive products, but then what’s the right potency for TeaPot to ensure that we’re finding a sweet spot of experienced cannabis consumers who want to augment their cannabis consumption and new cannabis consumers who don’t want to get their, have a bad experience or have one and done so long answer to this question, Drew is TeaPot is five milligrams of THC, which is a modest amount, but half a gummy, it’s the simplest way to kind of describe it so that, you know, one, a new consumer can have half a can, or maybe a full can of TeaPot and feel in complete control of their experience.

And if you’re a more experienced consumer, you can have two, three and feel again, like you’re in control of your experience. The key with our approach to potency and the THC level of our cannabis products is to mitigate the risk of accidental overconsumption. There’s nothing worse than accidentally taking too much cannabis.

And that’s why we set a very easy-to-understand five milligrams of THC. It’s easy. The math is easy, you know, five, 10, 15, et cetera. So a long-winded answer to your question, which the answer is five milligrams of THC, but a journey that got there is both kind of about the brand and how we introduce a brand and understanding who’s drinking it and how and from a volume perspective or a sales perspective, it’s also good to sell two or three cans as opposed to just one. So five milligrams of THC we found is the right sweet spot for our drinkers.

[00:06:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s good. I think I’d prefer two and a half milligrams because then it almost equates to like a beer.

So you could have two, the moderate consumer could do like two or three and eventually get up to where I went about seven and a half.

[00:06:27] Paul Weaver: You know, Drew, if we’re having a real talk about like the execution of these types of products, you have to think about a dispensary vibe and selling a cannabis product into a dispensary and two, two and a half milligrams is ideal.

That’s kind of like beer equivalent edible, but you also have to be mindful of shelf space. There are fridges, but there’s small fridges and you have to be mindful of what we’ll get listings and, you know, 10 milligram THC products, 100 milligram THC products. Those are, you know, the strongest products out there.

Five is enough to get the necessary listings. It’s enough to move the needle for an experienced cannabis audience, but not too much where it’s too intimidating. So, yeah, no, I agree that kind of two, two and a half, that’s a real perfect zone for a sessionable light beer equivalent for cannabis.

But we also have to be mindful of a dispensary environment that is more conducive to experienced consumers. So yeah, it’s, I would say that you’re never making everyone happy with your potency conversations. These are debates that we’ll continue to have long into the future.

[00:07:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. No, I do like seeing the whole category settling down. Like if you go back five, 10 years with potencies, they were all across the board.

[00:07:39] Paul Weaver: Yeah. Potency, but also just like stability and, you know, the accuracy of that potency and you know how we’ve come a long way.

[00:07:46] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. Talk to me about the process of making a cannabis beverage. There’s got to be some unique challenges versus a gummy and a mint.

[00:07:55] Paul Weaver: Well, our R& D team, I would like to say is the best in the bins and we’ve got resources and back home that know how to make great tasting products but our local Canadian R& D team consists of resources that have prior experience from canopy growth like myself and Tilray and Anheuser-Busch and people who’ve really cut their teeth in learning the hard way, how to make a cannabis beverage.

And the first, there are really two areas. I would say that we took, we took the hard road to learn. The first is emulsification. So emulsification simply means will it blend? You have a cannabis extract or THC extract, and that’s really viscous oil. It’s like molasses. And if you ever look at like a vape.

And you tilt it to the side, you look at slowly, it oozes from one side, you know, that’s, that’s the active ingredient. That’s the pure extract. That’s not liquid. That’s oil. So how do you get an oil product to emulsify? And there’s some great partners and technologies that continue to evolve in terms of how to take a viscous, thick cannabis extract into a liquid ingredient that blends into a drink, and then will it be stable in the package?

You know, there was a lot of fear early on about THC degradation. You know, the product, okay, we figured out how to make it blend, but will it be stable? Will it stay potent over time? You know, some of those early drinks you probably remember, Drew, when California first launched drinks, you know, 5, 10 years ago.

There was no guarantee that the potency of that product that was labeled was the same now as it was when it was packaged, not from any sense of shenanigans, but just a lack of maturity in the science. So we’ve learned a lot about both how to make a liquefied cannabis ingredient and then how to keep that ingredient stable in the package for a decent amount of shelf life.

[00:09:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Wow. Now, as far as like the stability, are there certain ingredients that compete with a THC that would cause that degradation to occur more rapidly? Like an acid or a

[00:09:53] Paul Weaver: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s different recipe of our recipe. Some of it has to do with the liners of an aluminum can that are there to protect flavor could actually be leaching.

THC molecules, light, air, these are all things that you’ve gotta be mindful of. And aluminum can with the right liner is the perfect vessel for preserving a cannabis beverage for both potency and flavor. You know, a lot of your guests will talk maybe flavors sense of sensory stability.

You know, will it taste the same six months from now as it does now? We always of course care about, will it tastes the same in six months? But we don’t really have to worry about alcohol degrading. It’s usually the alcohol is not the problem. It’s usually the flavor. We’ve got two challenges, both the taste stability and the potency stability. But we’ve, like I said, we’ve come a long way in the last, I’d say five years. And we feel really confident about our science in that space.

[00:10:45] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well, that’s amazing. So what would, what is the shelf life right now for a ready-to-drink cannabis product or TeaPot?

[00:10:53] Paul Weaver: Good question. You know, I mean, again, we’re learning, there’s no way to kind of know for sure without actual time. You know, like you can force age a product to get a sense of how it will age, but that’s hypothetical, you know, we’ve only been making TeaPot for a little over a year. So we’ve been monitoring it for about a year just to see how it’s holding up and so far.

So good. And, you know, our mango green team, we just did a 1 year stability test and it’s holding up pretty good. So I would say right now we like saying a 1 year shelf life for, for TeaPot. But the only honest way to do that work is to just make it, put it on a shelf and taste it every 30 days and see how it’s doing.

So, but we like what we’re seeing both potency, of course, and taste.

[00:11:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. Give us an idea of the lineup. So what’s your current lineup in TeaPot with the flavors?

[00:11:36] Paul Weaver: Well, you know, the fun thing about TeaPot is it’s designed to be accessible and easy to understand and kind of demystify the intimidation of marijuana.

So, you know, it’s tea and pot. That’s the simplest way, that’s what TeaPot’s all about. Right? So the thesis behind TeaPot is we pair the right tea with the right pot for the right occasion. We’ve got good day ice teas that are caffeinated that we are infused with uppity sativa strain. And we’ve got good evening ice teas that are non caffeinated that we chose a more relaxing indica strain.

So we’ve got two good day ice teas. We’ve got a lemon black tea and a mango green tea. Those are both under 100 calories, both 5 milligrams of THC and a modest amount of caffeine and from tea. And those are infused with a strain called Pedro’s sweet sativa, which is very popular, cultivar of cannabis sold here in Canada.

And then we have our 1st of 2 good evening iced teas that’s out now a blueberry chamomile. There’s no caffeine in that chamomile. We use that with a strain called black sugar rose, which is a trendy indica strain here in Canada. And lower sugar, lower caffeine or no caffeine and lower calories. So more meant to kind of replace your glass of wine at night.

So that’s kind of the idea. We experienced cannabis consumers know there’s like a right pot for the right occasion. Trying to communicate that knowledge through tea. And we’ve got three styles of TeaPot right now, but we’ve got an endless amount of teas in our arsenal. So there’s no shortage of teas and no shortage of pot.

[00:13:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I can imagine. Yeah. Now most of the ones that we have locally here it’s either a, it’s a seltzer or it’s a more of a juicier flavor, or it’s a, or it’s a hoppier thing that’s supposed to, for people that don’t want to drink alcohol, that wanna still feel like they’re having a beer.

[00:13:25] Paul Weaver: Well, you talk taste, you know, I mean, like, THC is a lot more of a neutral ingredient to work with than alcohol. So if you want to make a flavored alcoholic seltzer, you still have to add a little bit of flavor to mask the taste of alcohol. But THC does have a much lighter flavor profile, but it still does have a taste.

And tea, tea tannins, and the flavor of tea naturally complements cannabis. And so do hops cause we’re in the same family. So, tea already would kind of embrace the natural existing flavor of the cannabis. And it’s, it makes it where you don’t necessarily have to necessarily mask something so much as just lightly complimenting the kind of towards what you’re going for.

So tea is a great flavor to work with in cannabis and just like twisted tea, you know, the R and D hurdle of making a great tasting, completely noncarbonated, still beverage is, is quite challenging and something that Boston Beer does better than anybody. So, all TeaPots are completely noncarbonated as well.

So it’s that kind of noncarbonated approach plus the natural flavor complement of tea to cannabis that, that makes the products so special.

[00:14:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Now I can see that affinity between it right, right now, just with the flavor profiles. Now from a, I need education here. You mentioned how you have to extract the cannabis and then emulsify it.

Is it possible to actually steep cannabis and extract the THC, like have a teabag?

[00:14:51] Paul Weaver: Yeah, but not to any level of efficiency or guaranteed accuracy. So, you know, I remember back in prior to legalization, you’d find these teabags. Mary’s Medicinals, I think they were called, these teabags of just like, just probably just ground up weed in a teabag and steep it. And I bet there was, you know, a modest amount of active ingredient that would somehow come out of that teabag and into the liquid, but not with any level of scaled efficiency, you know. Like, you were talking like really efficient chemical extraction technology, like CO2 extraction, or in some cases, you know, hydrocarbon extraction, where you’re really able to get just the straight THC out of the product and I’ll be honest like TeaPot just tastes like iced tea.

It does not taste like cannabis. There’s maybe a vague hint of THC if you’re searching for it and that taste profile that we’re going for really could only be achieved through a very clean and efficient method of extraction so perhaps you could find a really artisanal way of steeping and extracting that way, but I’m not sure it would be scalable from a beverage manufacturing perspective, and I bet it would leave a lot of residual taste, which might be off-putting to our drinkers.

But there certainly are cannabis tea bags that exist and those products are still out there.

[00:16:07] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And that makes sense because you’re in the ready-to-drink category, not in the tea bag.

[00:16:12] Paul Weaver: Even those tea bags that you can buy, Drew, like, I bet most of those are kind of spiked teas as opposed to like, just raw cannabis, you know, that they still would kind of take an extract and maybe spray, spray dry that and powder out on top of the tea just to ensure that he got high from it. Because if you, if you just took ground weed and steeped it in water, I bet you wouldn’t feel and best a slight, slight buzz. And I’m not sure that that would lead to a repeat purchase.

[00:16:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, it got a really then you’re really just doing it for the tea.

[00:16:42] Paul Weaver: Well, I mean, aromatics, I mean, I’m sure there’s some, some value there, but it’s not an efficient and repeatable experience.

[00:16:49] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, well, let’s talk about distribution. So you’re in Canada. I mean, is TeaPot available in the United States or specifically in Canada right now?

[00:16:57] Paul Weaver: Yeah, I mean, just in Canada. I mean, Boston Beer Company, aside from being just incredibly patient, you know, it took us, you know, we’ve been selling twisted tea, for example, for 20 years, and only now is it in the top 10 of beers in America. So we’re a patient organization, slowly building this brand, learning in Canada and how to sell it correctly.

And what, what really drives our drinkers’ affection? But we’re also a publicly traded company and are held to a different level of standards as far as how we might enter the U. S. market. So we don’t play in the American cannabis market just yet. Although we’re really optimistic about some of the recent progress in American cannabis policy, but right now the conditions don’t allow us to sell it in America. So we sell in Canada.

[00:17:47] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. And now, how do you market within Canada? Like within the, is it just through the dispensaries or?

[00:17:54] Paul Weaver: This, the shorthand, I would say this is, you know, ’cause I’m being your first cannabis guest. I feel like I’m kind of obliged to give you the primer. I’m

[00:18:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Our listeners need it and I need it too.

[00:18:05] Paul Weaver: Okay. So here’s how I shorthand what it means to us. I’ve worked in beverage alcohol for a long time, but the shorthand I would say is that cannabis is kind of manufactured like pharma and distributed like alcohol, but marketed like tobacco. So, what I mean by let me break them into those three buckets. On the manufacturing side, my manufacturing process is a lot more fastidious, a lot more oversight, a lot more quality control checks, and independent lab analysis, and just the paperwork required to make a product in the Canada sector is quite laborious.

But surprise, surprise, the same parties that distribute beverage alcohol are the ones that have raised their hands in Canada to distribute cannabis, and they’re typically the government that gets their hands involved in terms of warehousing and moving product back and forth, granting licenses, et cetera.

And then the marketing, though, is kind of a post tobacco era where all of our marketing activity is heavily age gated. So if I can guarantee that you, Drew, are over the age of in Canada, 19, then my marketing capabilities are decent. You know, I can, I can talk about my product show branding. I can’t make any claims, but I can still do kind of traditional digital marketing, but I can’t do any out of home.

I can’t do any billboards. I can’t do any TV. And I’m beholden to an individual corporate policy like I don’t I can’t advertise on Facebook. I can’t advertise through Google or YouTube. And a lot of that is slowly changing, but that’s the shorthand, right? It’s like made like pharma shipped like beer and marketed like tobacco.

So if you’re in the dispensary, you’re in that age-gated room, lots of trade tools, lots of fun signs, lots of ways that I can engage with you, do non-infused sampling, et cetera. But outside the dispensary, you would have no idea that we exist. Unless we do our job, which is like word of mouth grassroots, really try and get our drinkers to be effusive and evangelical about their love of TeaPot, which they are, they. Our drinkers love TeaPot so we try and make them happy.

[00:20:06] Drew Thomas Hendricks: We’re really, that’s, I love that comparison, pharma to alcohol distributed, and then that makes so sense. And it actually kind of encapsulates, as cannabis is moving from like that fringe counterculture to mainstream kind of marketing, you’re kind of going through each one of those steps. And I know in California here we do, we are seeing a little more active marketing, like, the,

[00:20:30] Paul Weaver: Yeah, it’s almost kind of a, what, what’s interesting is you end up getting like, actual regulations, like laws that are either by a state or by a government that say, you know, you can and can’t do this.

And then you have individual advertising companies that are choosing whether or not they want to open up their business to the, to the weed biz. So like a billboard provider in California, those are, you know, a handful of people that own those billboards. Which ones are cool selling those billboards to cannabis companies and in Canada, that’s not permitted by law, but maybe in the state of California, it would be.

[00:21:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah, we got billboards everywhere now.

[00:21:10] Paul Weaver: The biggest hurdle we have right now though, honestly is in the digital marketing space. You know, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, these are platforms that, like, that’s how most CPG companies spend their ad dollars. And we just, we’re blocked out. And not from any sort of federal policy, but from Individual corporate policies from Meta and Alphabet, those two companies that run those platforms.

So, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some policy shift in Washington if that reverbs into Silicon Valley and all of a sudden now your Instagram is inundated with pre-rolls and gummies.

[00:21:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I wouldn’t be surprised either. Now let’s go, let’s go way back to before you had cannabis. How did you get your start in the industry and how did it evolve into where you are now?

[00:21:55] Paul Weaver: Yeah, I mean, just like everybody, I’m just like, I’m sure you like, we’ve all had an interesting journey in beverages and in cannabis. So I started in the beer business when I moved to Toronto in 2011, and I was working for the most brewery here in Toronto appointed over there, the most brewery in Toronto.

10, 11 years, 12 years ago, doing product development work and helping launch products in Canada, really learning the beer business. And then in 2017, it was pretty clear that Canada was going to be legalizing cannabis at the federal level. There was a lot of momentum. All the stars were aligned in politics.

And I had started to really develop a passion for medical cannabis. It had become quite therapeutic for me. I grew up in Arizona, and so cannabis was quite for voting in Arizona. So for me, like it was a it was a wake-up call about the stigma that I’ve grown up with. So I joined Canopy Growth Corporation, which at the time was the largest medical cannabis company in the world, and led their innovation department as they launched recreational cannabis in Canada, and I learned a lot about cultivation and growing weed and the different form factors. But most importantly, I learned for a passion for cannabis beverages. And then I met the team at Boston Beer a few years after that. And here we are.

[00:23:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s a great story. Yeah. I just drove through Arizona. I was shocked to see all that.

[00:23:16] Paul Weaver: Oh, now it’s per capita. I think the highest weed state in America, like, I don’t think I’m the only Arizona that’s had this epiphany, but, you know, I’m a dare graduate 1994. So, you know,

[00:23:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I never would’ve thought that. And I never, I never would have, I never would have thought Arizona was going to shift.

[00:23:35] Paul Weaver: Well, I mean, I went to Arizona State, and Arizona State’s a heavy-drinking school. So it’s not like they don’t know how to party. But their cannabis relationship was pretty, pretty secretive. And now that, now the secret’s out.

[00:23:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, it’s been a tremendous shift, especially from our standpoint, my standpoint back to, you know, the early days. The early days with you, like starting into recreational and Canada, how is, I mean, how, just paint a picture of how it’s evolved like the perceptions changed for sure, but the way you’re marketing it and the way that, just people’s receptiveness.

[00:24:10] Paul Weaver: It’s hard to say, Drew, because I mean, in Canada, like Canada’s relationship with pot, I think has always been a little bit more progressive and welcoming than American relationship with pot. So, I mean, to say that it’s kind of like a non, just a non factor in the day-to-day lives of Canadians is probably the truth, right?

Like it’s, we had lots of early fervor of enthusiasm in terms of all these new brands launching all these new products and the industry continues to grow. We continue to break records in terms of sales and driving an industry. That’s quite sizable and drives a lot of tax revenue for provinces and the federal government.

And, of course, just like every new market, there’s dispensaries in every corner littering the area and then there’s a kind of a calling of that, and adapt right-sizing of the dispensary is kind of per mile. So that evolution has occurred. But in terms of kind of the, the impact of day-to-day life and society, like, you smell it a bit more in the parks, but generally speaking, like, it’s a non-issue.

You know, it’s been really, it hasn’t changed the culture at all. There isn’t really a huge pushback towards legalization at the federal level here in Canada. And, no, it’s just kind of part of day-to-day life now. You, you wouldn’t think twice if someone, you know, leaves the party to go outside or smoke and smoke a joint or brings a six-pack of cannabis beverages to, to the holiday gathering. It’s just kind of, kind of normal up here now.

[00:25:35] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And I’ve been surprised that evolution too, the way it’s just become part of life, at least on the West Coast here, like go back to 2012, 2013, when the, you know, the, the medical cannabis was out, it was still a little bit of an under the table thing where you’d bring the weed to the party or you’d bring the edible and now it’s just kind of part of the conversation and it’s part of a mainstream conversation and it’s, I think it’s the users that have really helped educate all the non users. Not that we were pushing it, but it just,

[00:26:04] Paul Weaver: Well, I find myself having to kind of cool it because I’m such a preacher. I’ve got the, you know, the good news of being so pro-cannabis. I kind of try and let it be kind of an organic conversation because, you know, at its core, Drew, weed is awesome. It’s awesome.

It’s such a great product. It’s so much fun. And it’s surprising to a lot of people just how much they enjoy a cannabis experience and, how much they want to learn more after they have their first cannabis experience. So I think, you know, those of us that work in the industry and have worked there for a long time have a responsibility, frankly, to be responsible shepherds and sherpas of people for their first cannabis experience, which is why I love TeaPot so much.

It’s a great introductory product for the cannabis space, and maybe it’s not for you, but it’s an easy thing to sample, even if it’s just for the taste and a fraction of a milligram. So, you know, I think part of that cultural evolution is sits on us as industry leaders to be the ones to introduce you to a cannabis product, be empathetic to a new person’s experience and, and give them the right product and don’t accidentally make them hate weed.

[00:27:16] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. No, it’s a much better vehicle ’cause you can sip the tea, you can sip it over the course of this time. I think a lot of new users, they’ve got their gummy and they’re used to eating like 10 gummy beers. You’re not gonna eat 10. But it, it seems weird to have this one little piece of candy that takes a second to chew and that’s it. You gotta wait.

[00:27:32] Paul Weaver: Yeah. And it feels, it feels kind of sneaky too, you know, like, I mean, we talked earlier about like, conspicuous form of consumption. Well, you know, branding and flower is very difficult. Like, you know, like, seen in Pineapple Express when he’s like, oh, he smokes. It’s like, it’s pineapple express.

Like, no one knows that. Like, no smoke a joint to know what the flight, what strain it is. And maybe it might be labeled on the filter tip. But even then you’re holding the filter tip. A gummy, it’s 2 bites and it’s done and you’re washing it down and you’re just hoping it doesn’t taste bad. And even if it does, you don’t really care that much.

It’s gone. And the flavor is gone in a couple of minutes, but a beverage that’s prolonged. It’s taste matters the most because you’re drinking it slowly and savoring it and judging it. And the branding is conspicuous that the logo says something about you and it’s communicating something to everyone around you.

So it’s, it’s also. It’s an easy entry point, but it’s the one that you have to do right because you have to be mindful of just how prolonged that experience is.

[00:28:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. Talking about prolong the experience. What, the biggest issue that with cannabis is it takes so long to actually be reactive. Someone takes the gummy, it’s an hour and a half later. And like, I’ve got a neighbor that he’s coming out with a line of tortillas.

[00:28:48] Paul Weaver: Infused tortillas?

[00:28:49] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Infused tortillas.

[00:28:51] Paul Weaver: Get out of here.

[00:28:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well, tacos. I’m like, people are going to want to have four tacos. You can’t have a 15-milligram tortilla.

[00:28:57] Paul Weaver: I think, I thought, I thought I’d heard it all, Drew. But infused, are they taco shells? Hard shells? Soft shells?

[00:29:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Soft tacos.

[00:29:04] Paul Weaver: Soft taco shells. Cool. Hey man, I’ll give it a shot. But like, I think that’s kind of a novelty product, right?

[00:29:11] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s a novelty, but in San Diego, it makes sense. But someone’s going to have three tacos. You gotta like be mindful that no one has a taco.

[00:29:19] Paul Weaver: Yeah. And I’ll crush three tacos in about three minutes too, right?

[00:29:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. So now I’m back to my two and a half milligrams of time. So as far as efficacy or the absorption time, is there any, I mean, is work being done to, especially in the drink category, to have it hit more like a beer?

[00:29:38] Paul Weaver: You know, this is a topic that has been discussed ad nausea for years because it’s like, how do we equate it to beer?

And I don’t think anyone ever asks. Sam Adams, well, how fast do I get a buzz from Sam Adams? It’s one of these different, like, just the conversation in weed versus alcohols is so different. But you’re right, like, that onset time, which is the kind of the verbiage that’s often used, the onset, when you begin experiencing a cannabis high.

For an edible product because it goes through digestion, what you ate, and how it gets absorbed into your stomach lining and all that stuff. Like, it’s so variable, you know, maybe it’s 30 minutes. Maybe it’s an hour. What’s the curve? Like, what’s the peak? You know, I like to say the answer to the question, “Am I high?” Is always yes.

Like if you have, if you have to ask, the answer is yes. The nice thing about a cannabis beverage though is the way that the science works in terms of liquid, the way it’s absorbed into the body, the way liquid is absorbed, it does act faster. It’s faster than an edible. So I have a cannabis beverage just inherently has a faster onset than a traditional oil-based gummy just because the way that it enters your bloodstream.

And you can start feeling a slight cannabis buzz 15 minutes or so. Maybe that’s what a beer is. And there are people who continue to refine and dial that in and figure out ways of kind of increasing the onset time. But I think if you can get close to 15 minutes, that’s enough. I don’t hear too many people choosing one brand or another because, and this one’s got a 10-minute onset versus this one has a 12 minute onset.

[00:31:09] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s well within the realm. Is it? What is the 90 minutes?

[00:31:12] Paul Weaver: I think, I think the key is you’re trying to use if you can feel a buzz within 20 minutes of having a single beverage, I think we’re in the ballpark of beverage alcohol.

And you’re again, doing all you can to reduce the risk of accidental overconsumption. That’s kind of the goal here in terms of onset time. When you have something that takes an hour, that’s when that risk of like, I’m going to have another, I’m going to have another. Next thing you know, you’ve taken 30 milligrams of THC, and the swell that occurs 90 minutes later, and you maybe weren’t prepared for that.

So, yes, drinks are faster onset than traditional.

[00:31:47] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Is it the emulsification that helps aid that delivery?

[00:31:50] Paul Weaver: Yeah. I mean, it’s the fact that it’s liquid. It’s a liquid and it goes into your, into your body faster that way.

[00:31:56] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Okay. Well, that makes sense. Makes sense. So what advice would you have for sort of other beverage producers getting into this category?

And it doesn’t have to be country-based, just in general, legal, legalization and what aside, what are the things that they got to be mindful for? Like, kind of, do you separate the brand from the cannabis brand, like the beer brand from the wine brand from the cannabis brand, or should they all have a synergy?

[00:32:22] Paul Weaver: Oh, okay. Well, I mean, I think that’s all personal, right? Like, I think for, for Boston Beer, both legally, we were required to create a separate brand here in Canada and kind of practically, like, our Twisted Tea brand is doing so well on, on such a great pace. There’s no, it just confuses matters if you were to try and at a THC version of Twisted Tea into the pipeline.

So the idea of just having a dedicated cannabis brand that has its own values. It has its own message. It has its own drinker piece conversation that works for us. I’m not sure that works for everybody, but for us, that was the right decision. But I, I do think, you know, and this is where we’re fortunate.

I’m blessed to have the resources of awesome beer to make. Our drinks, because our drinks objectively taste incredible in our, I find far better than both. Any of the drinks that I had a chance to be a part of making long before showing this company and a lot of the drinks I tasted, and I think there is a bit of an overreliance on branding in the canvas space generally, because it’s quite easy to make a really cool logo these days and quite easy to make a really cool brand vibe, but taste, taste is king more so than cannabis drinks in any other form factor, because it is that long consumption.

So, I think doing getting taste right and testing it through a prolonged consumption, not just a sip test, but do a swing testing, do a session test, have a few of these and make sure that that taste doesn’t linger that there’s no building chemical taste just being mindful that, like, this is the 1 factor where taste is going to make or break your brand for the long term.

[00:33:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. Yeah, I like that. The session test is some of the things that taste good on the first sip, three sips in your.

[00:34:00] Paul Weaver: Well, a lot. I mean session testing is very common in beverage alcohol, right? Like, send a six back home. How does it taste after one, two, three, four and that’s important and it’s just as important in cannabis drinks as it is in any other drink because how does that flavor build?

How does it taste after the second one? Is that something you want to go back to? Or is your mouth cloying? Or has it got some weird bitter chemical taste? These are all the things that I think the best drinks have mastered.

[00:34:24] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, okay. Very interesting. You mentioned something. So legally, Boston Beer couldn’t put their name on it in Canada?

[00:34:31] Paul Weaver: Well, in Canada, like, so in California, right, you’ve got Lagunitas, Pabst, and, St. Ives. Well, and I mean, I actually quite like the Hi-Fi Hops. That was one of the first cannabis drinks that I think was on to something unique. The Lagunitas brand, because there are, but there are no laws in California that prohibit you from crossing the border.

[00:34:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Okay.

[00:34:53] Paul Weaver: In Canada, there is explicit laws that prohibit using an alcohol brand from extending into cannabis. So we can’t do Angry Orchard cannabis cider. Maybe we can do Happy Orchard THC cider, but, but we can, we can’t do, we can’t do those direct brand parallels. So there is actually laws in Canada to prevent that.

[00:35:16] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s interesting. Yeah. I can see, I mean, I can see the thought process behind that, not keeping the, keeping the vertical separate, I guess.

[00:35:25] Paul Weaver: I there’s also just a request to really separate these universes of beverage alcohol and cannabis and people like us participate in both, but we’re, we try and draw a fine line between the two.

[00:35:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Very interesting. Now is, I’m going to put on your future cap. Where do you see the, where do you see this going over the next 10 years?

[00:35:48] Paul Weaver: Weed or weed drinks?

[00:35:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: The ready-to-drink cannabis drink category.

[00:35:53] Paul Weaver: Well, I think that, well, first, I mean, it is a continually growing segment, right? Whether it’s a cannabis consumer that should stop smoking and switch to a faster edible format that is better on the lungs, or a beverage alcohol consumer that maybe wants a different alternative to alcohol.

We’re right at the Venn diagram of two continually growing trends. So you’re going to see the category continue to grow. Now I think there’s two roads in which this category continue to play out. One is in the traditional dispensaries like you see in California, and the other is this really nuanced nebulous world of liquor stores and what’s happening in kind of these hemp states like Minnesota or Texas and places where you’re seeing hemp-derived beverages being sold just within liquor stores.

And those are really disrupting the status quo in terms of the shopper. So I think, continuing to see upward growth, we’re going to, we’re going to see a fork in the road in terms of which markets it’s being sold in. Is it going to be sold into dispensary? In which case, you know, we’re competing against cannabis consumers and we’re trying to drive the cannabis conversation towards beverages or a traditional liquor store or a place where you’re buying liquor where we’re trying to introduce a new alternative to alcohol in a very familiar way. So two roads in front of us, and I think there’s growth in both.

[00:37:14] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, yeah. No, you bring up a very good point about smokers that need to smoke a lot less and drinkers that probably need to lay off that alcohol a bit. And I’ve seen that here just with my friends who are doing each.

Bring up hemp. Talk to our listeners, like the Texas hemp drinks or the Minnesota hemp drinks. How do they hit versus the THC-based? I mean, they can’t get you where you want to be. Can they?

[00:37:43] Paul Weaver: Well, they’ll get you where you want to be, Drew. So I think that now the method of sourcing that THC from a hemp plant, there’s a lot of ways that it can occur.

In absence of federal farming regulations and product development regulations. There is some risk in terms of where they’re getting that cannabis, right? It’s a weird chemicals or pesticides or residual solvents and stuff that are used to create this chemical. But at the end of the day. It is the identical chemical as what’s being sold in TeaPot here in Canada, which is Delta 9 THC.

Delta 9 THC is the standard chemical in all cannabis edibles and flour. It’s, it’s the active ingredient. So if it says five milligrams of Delta 9 THC, that’s the exact same as five milligrams of TeaPot up here in Canada. The sourcing and methodology in which they got to that chemical has to be questioned.

You always got to be mindful that these are like semi-legal products. Semi-regulated processes, so there is, like, the onus on the ethics of who’s making it and they’re already kind of acting outside the bounds. So I do think there’s concern about the sourcing of the product and the safety of the product.

But the end result, the end chemical of these hemp-derived THC Delta nine products is the exact same.

[00:39:04] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I had no idea. I’ve learned something new today. I always thought hemp.

[00:39:07] Paul Weaver: Well, I think, you know, I think it’s a very clever wording, right? So saying something is hemp versus marijuana puts you in a different mindset in terms of where it’s coming from.

But this is all the same cannabis plant family with different cousins and the, the active cannabinoid chemical is all that really matters. So.

[00:39:26] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s very interesting. So Paul, as we’re kind of wrapping down, what else can we talk abouWhat’st’s top of mind for you today?

[00:39:36] Paul Weaver: Well, I think that, that if your listeners are passionate about entering the cannabis beverage space, I think that it starts with advocacy and it starts with ensuring these products are unequivocally legal at the federal level.

That means, you know, participating in the reform movement to find out who’s leading reform in your, in your home state, join those groups, join meetings, you know, that’s the, that’s the easiest way to kind of ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons for the long term is understanding kind of what the grassroots reform movements are looking like in your state.

And if you’re in an existing state that’s already legalized, how do we prepare for the future protecting your future business against, you know, interstate commerce or future federal reforms? You’re not kind of beholden to just 1 state industry. 1 of the things I’m very proud of that Boston Beer has set up with our cannabis division is we really emphasize brand and liquid, not infrastructure.

We’ve got partners that facilitated. We have a lot of co-manufacturing relationships, but we don’t own any manufacturing or we’re not invested in 1 manufacturing methodology. We have a liquid and when I got a brand and we’ll try to be as flexible as possible because the roads in front of us are quite unclear.

So, you know, making sure you own your recipe and on your brand and try and be as flexible underlying infrastructure as you can be, because the next 10 years of cannabis manufacturing processes are going to be a mess. So, just be prepared to kind of weather that storm.

[00:41:07] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I can only imagine the growth of the next 10 years. That is some great advice, Paul. Well, Paul, thank you so much for joining us today. Where can people find out more about you and TeaPot?

[00:41:17] Paul Weaver: Well, our handles are drink TeaPot. So just go to or see us on Instagram and @drinkteapot. We’ve got some great merchandise for sale that go to a great charity up here called Pardons Canada.

So you can check that out, which helps go towards pardoning people for cannabis convictions. But yeah, or at @drinkteapot and learn more about our drinks. And there’s also a product finder. So if you or any of your listeners find themselves north of the border. You can find it in the store and try it for yourself and it tastes pretty good and the effects are pretty good. So I think, I think you’d, you’d enjoy it.

[00:41:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I got to search it out. I’m heading up to Tofino in a few months.

[00:41:53] Paul Weaver: Oh yeah. We’re great in BC. We’ve got a, we’re, we’re great presence in British Columbia. So check it out.

[00:41:57] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I will be checking out. Well, Paul, thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:42:01] Paul Weaver: Thank you, Drew.

[00:42:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: You have a great day.