As cannabis laws loosen, there's been a rise in cannabis-infused beverage launches. Another THC drink is coming to Colorado this summer from Spherex, a brand that already sells vape products. Its latest project is Phyx, a THC sparkling water.
A 'safe and controllable' high
Phyx will tap into the popular flavored water and seltzer category, seeking to offer an alternative to hard seltzers in the industry. Spherex founder Niccolo Aieta wants to hit the “sweet spot of the market,” for people who are interested in trying THC but want to do it in a “safe and controllable way.”
At 2.5mg of THC and 2.5mg of CBD per drink, Phyx has a relatively low dosage. Aieta told BeverageDaily that the Spherex team initially started out with a much more concentrated product, that people could dose with just a drop or two.
He said it performed well for the effects, but it wasn’t a product that people gravitated toward in social settings. This led them to look into a low-dose beverage, but faced challenges with masking the THC.
Aieta explained that the most common way to avoid strong odors, taste and separation from the oil is to add a third compound to help the beverage mix. But that often leads to a sour taste or cloudy appearance. Spherex decided to go “a little more high-tech” with nano-encapsulation.
For Phyx, the color and smell is removed during the refinement process of the oil before homogenization. This ensures that they don’t need to add a third component and emulsify the THC oil in water as clear and tasteless.
Avoiding the 'couch-lock' from other edibles
The technology for Phyx allows the drinker to feel the effects within minutes, says the brand, and then wear off within an hour. Aieta reports that it is less than half the time of a typical edible.
He believes that most consumers don’t want to be ‘couch-locked’ all day because of an edible. Phyx only lasts about an hour because the THC is absorbed through the tongue and does not have to go through the stomach or small intestine, according to Spherex. This is comparable to smoking cannabis.
Spherex felt like the edible market is already close to saturated with traditional dosages and effect-times. But because more consumers are now looking to cannabis drinks as an alternative to alcohol, they want them to perform like alcohol and provide those effects.
Many recent innovations in this space have in fact been positioned as alcohol replacements, marketed and packaged as craft beer. Ceria Brewing Co. launched in Colorado in December, Two Roots Brewing Co. launched THC and CBD drinks last summer, and High Style Brewing Co. debuted Coastal Haze in California this February.
Early Phyx customers are skewing female, and Aieta believes it will be a hit with adult women who may be looking for a new after-work drink. He said it is not targeted to the “super experienced cannabis user,” though they might enjoy it as a supplement to some of their other products.
Phyx is doing a soft launch in June, and it will then hit stores in Colorado in mid-July. It will launch with All-Natural, Lime, Grapefruit and Dragonfruit flavors. The drinks have no calories, sugar or carbs, and will be gluten free with all-natural ingredients. The company will pursue Nevada and California retail expansion in early 2020.