South Florida Brewers Warned Against Marijuana Beer

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Even as 4/20 is upon us, a growing trend amongst South Florida craft breweries is being nipped in the bud. On Monday, the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau mailed letters to Invasive Species Brewing in Fort Lauderdale and Devour Brewing in Boynton Beach. These letters effectively block the sale of any craft beer that has been infused with cannabis terpenes oil.

“People love cannabis—to smoke it, to try the edibles,” says Devour owner Chip Breighner. “So if they can have a beer that gives them the sense, the smell, the flavor, people want to try it.”

Devour Brewing was the first brewery in South Florida to experiment with fermenting their beers with cannabis terpene. The brewery began selling their oil-infused beers back in November, but according to SouthFlorida.com, the brewery is likely to cancel this Friday’s 420 party.

But Invasive Species may go ahead with their scheduled party as planned. The Invasive Species Celebrates 420 begins at 4:20 PM on April 20. Brewmaster Phil Gillis said “They told me not to make any more beer, but they didn’t tell me I had to cancel my event. It’s a little bit of a drag, I won’t lie, but frankly, I’ve got two bands booked and the beer’s already made.”

Cannabis terpenes are oils extracted from marijuana plants that give pot its dank flavor. Even though the oils do not contain marijuana’s psychoactive THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) component nor its pain-relieving CBD (cannabidiol), their use requires government approval.

While their use is not illegal, any beer that’s been fermented with the oils must be tested prior to sale to guarantee to be free of illicit substances. And depending on the complexity of the beer’s recipe, it’s possible that independent approval from the Food and Drug Administration or Drug Enforcement Agency may be required.

Fran Andrewlevich, co-owner of Twisted Trunk Brewing, began brewing cannabis-infused beers back in January. Unaware that testing was required, actually had their beers tested by an independent laboratory. According to Andrewlevich, cannabis terpenes oil represents a new frontier in craft brewing as the extracted oils from different strains of cannabis plants can produce a wide variety of new flavors.

Kylie Jones, founder of the brewery LauderAle, didn’t receive a cease-and-desist letter, and intends to proceed with their 420 party as planned. “You can’t deny it’s a trend right now and everyone’s doing it,” Jones says. “For people who’ve never drank it, they can experience flavors they never experienced before. It’s a really great meeting of molecules.”

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