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Shipyard Brewing, Sea Dog Brewing bring some of their favorite beers to a new 'high'

These new beers do not contain alcohol. According to the companies, the drinks have their own flavor profiles, but don't taste like marijuana.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland's Shipyard Brewing Co. is teaming up with Novel Beverage of Scarborough to launch a new product: THC-infused Pumpkinhead ale.

Founder and President of Novel Beverage Matt Hawes said the new blend will be available at some recreational marijuana shops on Thursday. 

“These are true craft-built beverages. It takes five days from the day we start until we get this in the bottle," Hawes said.

The cannabis-infused beer is Novel Beverage's first product. The new company is a manufacturer specializing in what it believes will become the next big thing among adult-use cannabis products in Maine. 

Industry experts agree that beverages infused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, eventually will make up a large share of the adult-use market.

According to the Office of Marijuana Policy, Mainers spent $383,109 in infused products like beverages and edibles in January alone. 

Novel Beverage is also partnering up with Bangor's Sea Dog's Brewing Co. to make a THC elixir version of Sea Dog’s Wild Blueberry Wheat that is scheduled to be released in a few weeks. 

Credit: Matt Hawes

Hawes said he's been in the cannabis industry for more than two decades and knew this beverage sector would be a big part of the market's future.

"I think it’s really exciting that there’s an option in the market for people who maybe don’t want to drink alcohol or maybe want to use THC but don’t want to smoke it," he added.

Shipyard's THC beverage is ready to hit the shelves at Brothers Cannabis in Bangor. It's a fitting name as the shop is co-owned by Matt Hawes and his brother Greg.

The store opened about a month ago and Greg said business has been steady ever since and is excited to see the consumer response when they try these new products.

“I think the beverage market will take off," Greg said.“I think that is the portion of the industry I will see grow fastest.”

How do they infuse THC from cannabis and beer together?

The drinks are steeped using grains and hops, similarly to how beer is normally made. They're designed to look like beer and in some ways behave like beer, but with no alcohol and their own flavor profileswhich the company insists don’t just taste like marijuana, the products are their own distinct beverages.

Because of a process called “nanoemulsification,” drinkers will feel the beverages’ effects in 15 or 20 minutes, Matt Hawes added the 5 mg of THC per bottle will have more of an effect than that of a traditional edible or other product. 

“If you are new to consuming cannabis, just take it slow," he said.

“I’d rather see somebody take their time and drink half of one and not have any effect whatsoever rather than drink too much and have it ruin the experience," Greg added. 

Nanoemulsification works by taking large cannabis oil droplets and breaking them down into tiny particles that can mix with water in a way that allows the body to absorb a higher amount of THC, according to the cannabis information website Leafly.

Novel’s beverages will cost shoppers about $7 for a 12-ounce bottle, which Hawes said is in line with other high-quality craft beverages. 

Shipyard's Pumpkinhead "THC elixir" will be available in several recreational marijuana shops across the state including SeaWeed Co., Theory Wellness, and Maine Cannabis Exchange in South Portland, Sweet Dirt in Waterville, Northland Botanicals in Stratton, and Brothers Cannabis in Bangor. 

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