Hop & Hemp's 0.5% ABV beers contain 8mg CBD per 330ml serving to ‘take the edge of an evening’, but is free from THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. It also boasts a relatively low calorie count thanks to the lack of alcohol, as well as being vegan-friendly.
An after work pint
The London brewery has not set out to replicate the high of alcohol. Rather, it spots its opportunity as being clearly among consumers who want to unwind – appealing to those who like to drink a beer after work or mid-week, rather than the Saturday night party-goers.
“CBD does not offer a drunk feeling; I would describe it as taking the edge off, much like an after-work pint,” James da Silva, Hop & Hemp, told this publication.
“We are not trying to convince the nation to stop drinking alcohol, we still love a beer when the occasion calls for it.
"However, with increasingly busy lives and added responsibilities, losing whole days to hangovers is no longer an option.
"Low alcohol CBD beers give you the opportunity to continue to be the social person you’ve always been, still unwind at the end of a busy day but not have to worry about the negative repercussions of alcohol.”
Gen Z and millennials
According to the British Lifestyles report by Mintel, 20% of adults do not drink, and of those that do drink, 47% have cut down on their consumption.
“Therefore, we see our brews appealing to a range of demographics, including new parents, the health conscious and young professionals,” said da Silva.
“However, we see our core target audience as Generation Z and Millennials. They are actively drinking less, but the options available to them are limited to sugary soft drinks, fruit juices or water. They still want to be social and unwind, therefore Hop & Hemp CBD beers offer that added benefit as well as being lower in calories.”
Brewing with CBD
It took Hop & Hemp twelve months before brewers hit a recipe, method and brew they were happy with.
“It was very difficult!” said da Silva. “It took months of experimentation to be able to add hemp derived CBD to our brews without creating a strong hemp taste, but eventually we cracked it. Our brews now have all the big flavours of the best craft beer, with tasteless CBD, so consumers don't have to adapt their taste profiles.”
The result? Lowdown Lager is a crisp, golden pilsner style lager that “hits the palate with a gentle, spicy hoppiness and follows with notes of citrus and a lingering sweetness,” explains da Silva. Meanwhile, Easy Times IPA delivers “bags of fresh fruit flavours including big aromas of grapefruit and lemonade followed by biscuit and honey.”
Deciding on the CBD dosage also required consideration, given that the effect and onset varies from person to person. But this is no different to alcohol, points out da Silva. The brand settled on a dosage of 8mg per 330ml bottle (for comparison, it advises that people should consume no more than 200mg CBD per day)
“Just like alcohol, the amount of CBD it takes for an individual to feel the effects differs from person to person. I have had occasions where one Lowdown Lager has hit the spot and other times where it has taken four. It can depend on things like mood and environment again, much like alcohol.”
An ABV of 0.5% (considered ‘low alcohol’ under UK regulations but defined as ‘no-alcohol’ in Europe and the US) means the low concentration of alcohol is processed almost as quickly as it is drunk.
Hop & Hemp retails at £13 for four bottles.