High Spirits

#017 - From Big Bev to Big Cannabis, and Back Again w/ Paul Weaver

November 09, 2023 AnnaRae Grabstein and Ben Larson Episode 17
High Spirits
#017 - From Big Bev to Big Cannabis, and Back Again w/ Paul Weaver
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Picture this: You're standing in a liquor store in front of a new display. Instead of bottled beer and wine, you're looking at cannabis-infused beverages. Intrigued? So are we! This week, we're taking you on a journey through the unexpected twists and turns of big beverage companies like Boston Beer Company making their mark on the cannabis industry. 

Navigating the world of cannabis beverages isn't just about the high. It's about breaking down the barriers of stigma and learning how to market responsibly within the confines of strict regulations. To help us understand this better, we called upon Paul Weaver, Head of Cannabis at Boston Beer Company. With his insights, we explore how decades of craft beer experience can apply to cannabis beverages and how creativity can still shine through amidst regulatory restrictions.

But the exploration doesn't stop there. We're also looking into the evolving relationship of legal drinking age consumers with alcohol, non-alcoholic products, cannabis, and wellness. Are we witnessing a shift in drinking culture? And what role does the success of brands like Boston Beer Company's Teapot play in this changing landscape? So grab a seat, pour yourself a drink (whatever that might be), and join us as we push the boundaries of what we know about the beverage industry. Buckle up, it's going to be an intoxicating journey.

--
High Spirits is brought to you by Vertosa and Wolf Meyer.

Your hosts are Ben Larson and AnnaRae Grabstein.

Follow High Spirits on LinkedIn.

We'd love to hear your thoughts. Who would you like to see on the show? What topics would you like to have us cover?

Visit our website www.highspirits.media and listen to all of our past shows.

THANK YOU to our audience. Your engagement encourages us to keep bringing you these thought-provoking conversations.

Remember to always stay curious, stay informed, and most importantly, keep your spirits high.



Speaker 1:

Hey everybody, welcome to High Spirits. I'm Ben Larson and, as always, I'm joined by my smarter half, aniray Grabstein. Today we have another exceptional guest for you. We'll be diving once again into my favorite world, the wonderful world of cannabis beverage. Except, this time we're going to be unpacking it from a little bit of a different angle. Last time we were talking beverage, we had Abe Milleron from Uncle Arnie's, born out of California. You know really, yeah, it was just the homegrown brand. This time we're going the opposite direction. We're going to be unpacking the mysterious and sometimes daunting world of big Bev and their entry point into cannabis. It's really not all that scary. Our guest is a really great guy. We'll get into that in a little bit. We're going to be talking about all that and more, but first let's check in with Aniray. How are you doing?

Speaker 2:

Hi Ben, excited to be recording this High Spirits today. I'm good. It's been a fun week. I got excited watching the results come in. In Ohio, marijuana moment put out. Ohio yeah.

Speaker 1:

Ohio.

Speaker 2:

Marijuana moment put out an election results tracker and I love those trackers. On election night I love to watch kind of network news and watch all the results coming in and the maps and they had that going for Ohio so it was really fun.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's amazing. You know total California and I always have to point this out. Yes, I'm a Californian, but like Ohio legalizes and I immediately have to go to Google and like how many people are on Ohio? How significant is Ohio? It's actually pretty significant, in fact, we were talking yesterday and it could probably surpass Michigan pretty quickly and make it the number two in the US.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, ohio has a huge opportunity. I think that there's a ton of optimism around it because there are a lot of big companies that are already there that are hoping that adult use is going to be the ticket, and we are going to do an episode about this next week with an Ohio operator. We're going to have on Aaron Gore from Garden Society to talk more about this. But what I will say is and I just read an article this morning before we got on this recording is just about how there are a lot of elected officials in Ohio that are going to try to push back and even overturn, potentially the voters will. On this issue.

Speaker 1:

No, oh my God, they're going to be supporting that. Oh well, I'm excited to jump in that that's next week, but still exciting.

Speaker 2:

How are you?

Speaker 1:

doing. I'm good, it's a mixed bag. I hear Ohio news. I'm totally jaded. Eight years in the industry now I want federal news at this point. But congratulations Ohio. Hopefully we get a push through. We'll talk about that more later. What I'm really excited about, actually and I'm going to bring up my screen but for everyone listening this is an end cap at Total Wine in Minnesota. It is loaded with THC-infused beverages. It has the entire beverage category abuzz, for good reason. I mean, there's this liquor store in Minnesota called Top 10 Liquors. This is, or well, thc. We can talk about the nuances there, but it's really kind of taking center stage. They're leading a lot of the top 10 charts as far as products being sold and I don't know Total Wine is one of those things. There's a Total Wine down the street from my house and while we don't have THC beverages in it yet, it is just a very cool snack, a snapshot into the future. Yeah, it's super meaningful.

Speaker 2:

It gives a lot of hope, I think, to a lot of us that have been hoping for destigmatization of cannabinoids for a long time and just access, and to have cannabis products easily accessible for anybody who's 21 and over it's really pretty and hopeful. Yeah, yeah, really cool to share.

Speaker 1:

And you're coming at me with a pitchfork telling me that that's not cannabis and it's happening and blah, blah, blah blah. It's like, yes, I know it's a very complicated issue, but if we zoom out, anyone that's not totally ingrained or a licensed operator in the space, they see this and the general public is like, wow, that's huge for cannabis. And that's what my friends and family are saying and that's what matters when you're talking about pushing the movement and normalizing the plant and doing all that. So, yeah, I don't know. I know I talk about beverage all the time. I can't help it, but that's what we're here to talk about today. I'm super excited about the show.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Maybe before we jump in then we should also plug behind the scenes. Ben and I have been working to spin up a little mixer in Las Vegas for folks out there that are going to be at MJ Biz. In a few weeks we're going to be doing our first High Spirit's event.

Speaker 1:

All right. Yeah, we're going to do a mixer, right.

Speaker 2:

Mixer yeah.

Speaker 1:

We're going to do a little bit differently. It'll be, I think, thursday, which, if you need a little something to help you from the night before, if you need a little chill out before you go into your day, something to ease the joints, come over, we'll reach out to us. We'll tell you all about it. We have limited space but, yeah, we'll be bringing in on our guests, both past, present and future, and, yeah, I think it's going to be a lot of fun and there'll be infused beverages, of course.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we've been doing this podcast now for I think it's been four months or something, I think today, technically, is our 17th episode and it feels like we've built some momentum, and so we just want to thank everybody who's been supporting us and listening and hang out in person, which is sure to be a good time.

Speaker 1:

So we'll see you there, hopefully, yeah, yeah, definitely, all right. Well, on what the show is they say?

Speaker 2:

Let's do it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, let's see. Are you going to introduce our esteemed guest?

Speaker 2:

I would love to.

Speaker 1:

So, pumped.

Speaker 2:

So for today's guest we have Paul Weaver. He is a passionate innovator and product developer with over a decade of experience across the alcohol and cannabis industry. Right now, he is head of cannabis at the Boston Beer Company, where he leads the company's Canadian Cannabis Division, where, in 2022, he launched Teapot, a line of refreshing THC-infused iced teas blending specific strains with specific varietals of tea, and I maybe heard that they're infused with vertosa. Oh yeah, yeah, you know, I don't know. Prior to joining Boston Beer, paul was the director of innovation at Canopy Growth, a cannabis company, and previously served as senior manager of innovation at Molson Core's beverage company, traditional beer company. Paul believes cannabis to be a force for good in the world and dedicates his career to bringing high quality products and new consumers in a safe, friendly and consistent manner. Originally from Arizona, but now hailing from downtown Toronto, welcome to the show, paul. So glad to have you.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, we do infuse with Fertosa products for our teapot line. It looks like we infuse Ben's clothing as well, so you guys, you guys have a very swag yeah we pay in. We pay in clothing. That's how we pay for Fertosa services.

Speaker 1:

It's amazing yeah.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for having me. You mentioned Ohio and array in your preamble. There Not one. We have a brewery in Cincinnati and it's a. It's a beautiful facility and it's a big moment for us. It's the first time that a state has gone legal since we set up a cannabis division right, so it would that we actually had a production facility. So it's a big day for our coworkers as well, where you know, we've got a few hundred people that are working in the beverage alcohol industry in Ohio and see that vote go through is awesome. And I was doing the math myself, ben, and I think we've tipped now the electoral college. Oh, okay, so if you go state by state, in terms of who is legal and who is not, I think now we passed over past 270, which is the mark needed to elect a president, which is kind of the balance between state and federal kind of interest. So there's there's something not momentous. You know it's not avoidable, it's a big deal. Well, how? Turning legal, even if it's still a rocky road of implementation ahead.

Speaker 2:

I totally agree. I'm hearing that it's also. It's now 53% of the US population lives in a state with adult use. So we're not at 25 states quite yet I think this is the 24th, but we're more more than half of the population, and that's. That's the kind of momentum that we need.

Speaker 3:

And, as we're speaking, the clouds are parting. Yeah, you look very angelic. Yeah, like this is. This is a yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, I love. I love the way that this is starting, because, for one, you know, I think there's a lot of mystique around people from big bevs to, so to speak, but I want everyone listening to have the opportunity to get to know you, because I've gotten to know you over the years and and I know that you're deeply rooted in cannabis and and it's not like you're here to take everyone's profits and kick all the small guys out, and that you actually do care and clearly you care. You know the numbers better than me, so it's like you actually do care about the progression of the cannabis industry and you've chosen this vehicle, boston beer company at current, but also you know your story passed with canopy growth and and Molson course. I would just love to give you a chance to kind of tell us about your journey and what cannabis means to you and how it's influenced, where you're at today.

Speaker 3:

Sure, well, I appreciate you saying that. Yeah, I mean, I think when you work for a large alcohol company, you certainly have to be self aware. When you are selling a product in dispensaries that you kind of represent an antithesis of a lot of what cannabis kind of thinks it's about. You know, Having that mindset, that self awareness helps make a better product, helps allow us to enter stores with credibility and empathy. And you know, speed a bit self aware. My background, you know I'm, as an anorized from Arizona, which is, you know, now it's a big cannabis state, it's highest, I think, baby per capita, at least one of them. But when I was growing up in Arizona, cannabis was very, very taboo, and you know I'm a dear graduate, it's not something that you talk about. You know it's an alcohol state, arizona State University. You know it's a drinking culture, and so I grew up with a certain stigma towards cannabis. And then I moved to Canada and where cannabis is a little bit more a part of the culture here, and I was just, you know, taken aback by how wrong I was and how misled I might have been as far as you know just the relative safety and harm of cannabis. So I started to learn a lot. I joined Canopy Growth Corporation in their medical as a medical cannabis company and then, as medical cannabis, became recreational cannabis up here in Canada and I think that that kind of self awareness around cannabis normalization and destigmatization definitely drives a lot of how I approach the category. And I do find that you know, you and I, ben and Enore, have been in the industry for quite a long time and that advocacy, that kind of evangelical trying to right the wrongs and and and and shift the stigma, is a big motivator for a lot of us to continue doing what we do and stay in the cannabis industry. So that's my journey, you know. I went from a naive Arizona that didn't think there was anything good to come from cannabis worked in medical cannabis, worked in recreational cannabis, and then I met the guys at Boston beer and now we've set up this R&D department up here in Canada to develop cannabis drinks in anticipation of an American market entry. So it's crazy, just the journey not only me but the entire industry has been on for the last ten years.

Speaker 2:

I think it shows a real progression when a company like Boston beer decides to invest in you and your team and an innovation in the cannabis space. I think a lot of people that have worked in cannabis and have been struggling to bootstrap from the beginning probably think that you have a dream job because of the resources that probably come with being inside of a big corporation. I'm curious.

Speaker 3:

I don't disagree with that an array. I think you know I have a pretty great job and a lot of my team agrees like we love doing what we do and we're also really passionate about our own brands here at Boston beer too. So it's yeah. I mean, if you like beer, which I do, then yeah, it's a pretty.

Speaker 2:

It's a pretty cool gig yeah well, do you know, like I do know, other heads of cannabis at large CPG companies and other corporations like this P&G have someone heading cannabis or Coca-Cola? How many other polymers are there out there maybe not as deliberate as my title is.

Speaker 3:

Perhaps you know I mean those that have had a moment of beverage alcohol space. I've gotten to know a few of them. You know, when I was at canopy growth dealing with a lot of the relationships of constellation brands and knowing those people, and then emulsin Coors and and some of the people that ran Fluent, which is the API CPB beverage experiment. So I've gotten to know a few of kind of, I guess you'd say, my peers that have kind of straddled that Alcan and cannabis. But no, there's not a lot of us. I think they're, you know, proactively extroverted in our divisions right now. So I'm sure there's people out there, but I haven't had a chance to meet a ton of them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think CPG and Bev Alker are known for investing in innovation and trying to pay attention to the way consumers desires and interests are changing and and create products along the way, and not a lot of cannabis companies, I think have been able to continue to invest in innovation and so, instead, what we're seeing is companies outside cannabis look at cannabis as an innovation driver, an extension for what they're already doing. So, yeah, it's just it's exciting to see.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah well, I was just gonna say it's. You know the working with Paul's group and just seeing you know just the kind of the it's like this cultural island that these large organizations create because like they're doing something really kind of fun compared to their peers, I think. Right, it's like I like the broader beer industry is hyper competitive. You're always trying to come out with the next greatest thing and, and you know, working with Paul and his team, they are like the innovation team, right, and it's like you know seeing something that they truly believe in, that they think is a force for good. You know, I'm curious as to kind of what that that confluence is like at Boston beer and otherwise. You know it's like because in some circles right like cannabis and in in alcohol, can be kind of diametrically opposed but to see beer companies kind of adopting it and in largely beer companies, not necessarily like spirits companies as much, or even like food companies, but specifically beer companies, which is interesting. So I'm kind of curious, paul, like what's your experience been? You know how you're a small group in this large mothership and that in itself is really interesting because most cannabis companies aren't large enough to have motherships. But like what is that dynamic? Like, are you guys like the, the small, like fun group that you know gets the smoke weed or whatever it is and, like everyone else, is kind of old-school beer, like you know? Like, how do you guys?

Speaker 3:

know what's funny. You say, like, why is it? You die talk about this a couple days ago about why why are beer companies kind of so commonly the ones leading that kind of overlap and not like wine companies or spirits companies, and I didn't really know the answer to that. Maybe it's just beer company culture is typically pretty fun and lighthearted and doesn't take its health too seriously. I've had a chance now to work at two different large beer companies and there is a universal thread around kind of a jovial, to me know, friendly vibe that that beer companies, even the biggest beer companies, have and and they like to have fun and celebrate. But it's still a very competitive, sales driven, retailer driven, product driven company. So I think there there's a lot of similarities there in cannabis and beer in terms of the instincts that that lead to success and can drive kind of commercial success. In terms of Boston beer, you know I didn't know what to expect when we set up this, this department, and how we'd be welcome and I would say unequivocally with open arms. We are, I don't say beloved, but I definitely think that you know a lot of people appreciate what we're doing. They they love that. Boston beer has this foresight and this patience to do what we do, which is to make the best possible drink in any product class that we participate in, whether it's beer or cider or seltzer or hard teas you know we make the best tasting drink and everything we do and that starts with, you know, really putting an emphasis in product development and and refining that craft over time. And we're just doing that same playbook here in the cannabis space. You know, twisted tea, which is our most successful brand right now, is a top 10 beer in America but that took 20 years to get to. It's been selling for 20 years, still growing double digits every year, and it's now in that number 10 slot. But it took 20 years of patient diligence and refining and tweaking and I think there's this level of appreciation and passion for our craft that's extending it to cannabis and people know exactly what we're up to and that they're excited to see us on this journey amazing well, I've got a question.

Speaker 2:

You talked about beer being fun and I totally agree. I mean the beer aisle at the grocery store has some of the best art on the packaging that I see, definitely not appealing to children at all definitely not using characters yeah, without pointing finger and saying just that that beer is marketing to children. I don't think that's necessarily the case, but I do think that there is a playfulness that is looked down upon as cannabis regulations are rolling out specifically around packaging, and so I'm I'm curious of your perspective of the regulatory difference between beer and cannabis, and and is cannabis a lot harder in terms of, you know, in Canada, where you're operating, bringing a product to market? Things like that, like how you deal with packaging and formulation, quality control, all of that?

Speaker 3:

I know that this is not 100% accurate, but it's certainly my crash course for any person I'm bringing in to our team. I kind of break into three buckets, like how it's made, how it's distributed and how it's marketed. And I would say the shorthand and I'm curious, ben and Annalyt and Ray, if you would agree with this is cannabis is kind of manufactured like pharma, distributed like alcohol and marketed like tobacco, and so it's kind of understanding where those strengths are right, like I think in the branding and marketing side, we're very much kind of operating in a post-tobacco world, right. So it's just a byproduct of decades of kind of lessons learned in terms of aggressive marketing, in terms of regulated products. And you know here we are. You know I don't think we should be too offended that cannabis is forced to market itself in a very restricted manner and it just means that you have better, have the best core product. You know you can't rely on packaging, you can't rely on a brand logo, especially here in Canada where the packaging laws are so restrictive. The best product is the one underneath the label and those will continue to find loyalty and repeat purchase. So it's frustrating that you can't be aggressively sexy with your packaging like you can in the craft beer space, but it just means that companies like us that prioritize the product and the liquid and the taste, those are the ones that should succeed, because that's all that's the best marketing you can, is just the best possible product. So it's a bit Maybe this is a bit superficial, but I just think like it is what it is, accept it and embrace where you can Drive strength, and for us it's just Ignoring the logo. I mean we got a brand like teapot that has a great logo and a great name, but we don't have. We don't have the same tricks up our sleeves as beverage alcohol does. So the drink itself, the taste itself, is really what sells it.

Speaker 1:

You forgot, regulated like plutonium. There was a fourth one there that was missing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that what you said about the constraints I have always thought that that that within constraints, you can be more creative as well. Sometimes, if you give an artist a blank slate and say draw anything, it's a lot harder than saying, well, here, here are the rules, this is what you can draw, this is what you can't draw, now do something really cool. So I hear what you're saying and I like that, that what you're leaning into is the product quality and the consumer experience, but, as you know, as a marketer as well, like you, still need to get it in their hand before they've ever tried it, and so we want to be excited about the brand as well.

Speaker 3:

You know, when we, when we were developing teapot, we were testing it with consumers, we tested it in the most stripped-down yeah. So what you're showing here is is what we would call beauty packaging. This is kind of how teapot would look if it was sold in a clicker store or in a Maybe a market like California or Colorado that has a little bit more flexible branding. But the final product itself in a Canadian dispensary is basically a single color with a single logo and it still has to sell through that. You know you still have to try and work with the palette that you're given an array and still make an attractive visual presentation. So it still matters. Marketing still matters, packaging still matters, but it's a much more neutral playing field than in a craft beer space.

Speaker 2:

And what you just are pointing- to is the difference between presenting the brand In the marketing versus what the consumers getting and think that this has been something that I've been seeing too. In the US market, like a Florida, for instance, has really, really restrictive packaging requirements for all cannabis products Mostly white packaging, fairly unbranded, but when you walk into a dispensary there are still displays of branded packaging. It's just not what you end up getting when you purchase the product, and I can't think of any other industry or product that what you see on the poster is not the product that you get. Well, come on.

Speaker 1:

McDonald's right. That's a. That's a really funny comparison, yeah you know, I think it's.

Speaker 3:

I think what we're trying to do at least what I try and do with it is Kind of illustrate a picture of what it should look like like. This is what I think it should look like if, if we were given a more even treatment in terms of our regulations and maybe provoke a little bit of thought, rhetorical thought, around, maybe. Maybe things should change. You know, I think it's. It's also a little subversive to suggest a better, more Standardized, more craft beer focused way of presenting your product. So I think there's also a little bit of cheekiness in terms of doing that and maybe a little bit of a jab at the hypocrisy. The hypocrisy cannabis advertising laws well, we would love to.

Speaker 1:

I mean, as someone wearing your brand right now and I actually I have a little teapot bag over there I Would actually have loved to have some product down here in in in the States and you know we do. You know we're trying to attract you down. We have a little bit more not Florida, apparently but like a little bit more flexibility with our packaging at current, although that's always under attack. I know there was a bill in California this year where they were trying to make more Canadian style packaging. All right luckily that didn't go through. But if you, you are like pretty solely focused on on Canada we were talking about this a little bit before the show obviously you're. You're a large company and, just for the listener's sake, you know, boston beer is publicly traded under the NYSE ticker Sam Sam Adams, very, very clever. You guys have 2100 plus employees of you know, 4.1 2 billion dollar market cap, so a lot at stake here. So we're just grateful to have you in the industry. I think it's a great signal. We all admit that. But what would be really great is to have you guys down here in the US, and I Understand the restrictions as to why you wouldn't, but how is the conversation evolving around that, especially with what's happening at, like, total wine and the hemp industry and all that kind of stuff?

Speaker 3:

You know the the total wine experience that that, that Minnesota Example, where you're actually seeing our products like truly hard seltzer in a fridge right next to TEC seltzers, is provoking more, more questions than I've seen in the last two years about what is actually going on, like how do we actually kind of navigate this? But the reality is that that still hasn't changed much at the federal level. Like these are, these are so very the greatest interpretation of regulations to ensure that those products make their way to market, especially that kind of hemp, delta 9 kind of classic products. So what it's really doing is validating the size of the opportunity the consumer desire for these products and, most importantly, our distributor and our retailers interest in Putting our products on on their trucks because ultimately that's our first customer, right, her first customer is our distributor and our retailers. Like the drinker is goes through this three-tier system. So it's provoking more strategic discussion Than ever in terms of what's happening in Minnesota. So, yeah, it's just so. Yeah, it's just continuing to bring a light to the opportunity and it's validating exactly what we're doing, which is we have no control over how regulations are going to unfold the hemp farm bill road, the MSO marijuana state roads. But we know that, no matter which road we eventually end up on, it's a brand, it's a liquid, it's a can, it's a single product and that's what we're continuing to refine up here in Canada is making sure that the product is Undeniably dope and no matter which channel we can sell that through, we're prepared. So I think it's our emphasis is still Canada. Our emphasis is still Continue to improve and build on the teapot brand, which is doing really well for us, and one day we'll enter the US market, whether that's in the hemp space or the marijuana space. But it's kind of semantic to us. We know that the drink and the can Is going to remain the same and that's kind of our focus. So, yeah, we're an American company. Our goal is to enter the US market. What's happening right now is is Really really enticing, but nothing's changed yet at the federal level. We're still waiting for a little bit more movement there. But yeah, it's, it's, it's gonna happen.

Speaker 2:

I'm sure for an alcohol company to see those pictures of of the THC display If there's a level of threat as well. There's only so much real estate and shelf space in these, in these liquor stores, and so you want to be able to capture as much of it as you can. And and Boston beer has has rolled out lots of new innovative products, non cannabis related, like teas and Ciders and other things like, as, as consumers have been interested in them and as those categories have gotten shelf space, I'm kind of I'm curious of your perspective about who the beverage customer is, as it as it relates to the people going into these stores and and buying these products, and I'll queue it up a little bit with. I just read an article in Rolling Stone that that you were mentioned in, that Referred to that posited in the article that cannabis beverages would one day be as iconic as a Ramon's teacher, and which I thought was a bold statement. And you know what it made me think about is like our cannabis beverages Replacing alcohol in people's fridge or in their afternoon, or are they in the mocktail category or are they their own category? And so I'm curious to hear your perspective on that.

Speaker 3:

Well, I think, in terms of the threat component, in some ways we shouldn't think about it any differently than, let's say, a canned cocktail or cider or hard seltzer. You know, like there's a new category, it's exciting, drinkers want to try it and are we prepared to capitalize on that opportunity? And then, as a company, you just think of it in terms of margin accretive is it? You know, are we able to capture more market share of this new emerging category than our baseline, in which case we're welcoming it. You know it's new business, we're making more, we're bringing in more drinkers than we have in terms of our baseline market share and it's incremental to our business. And I think that's how I think about it in terms of a competitive threat or a commercial threat is are we able to be a bigger category player in cannabis drinks than we are in current beverage alcohol, in which case that's great, that's a good, positive, incremental news story for us. And then, in terms of, you know how the future fridge looks like? You know it's a loaded question. I think a lot about my own personal consumption. I think I'm sure you and Ben think the same. It's like okay, well, who am I and what's my fridge look like now that I've been into space and it's really just part of the rotation. You know, I think non-alcohol and cannabis drinks are now all part of the rotation for me and it's just a new alternative. You know, it's maybe a more mindful, healthier alternative. It might be my Thursday night option or my Wednesday night option, or it might be my last drink of the night or my only drink of the night. So it's just thinking about, you know, rather than it being a full replacement of beverage alcohol, it's part of the rotation. It's just the 21st century and I think this is the new future of drinking. It's just this rotation of alcoholic, non-alcoholic and now cannabis-infused options. So that's my ambiguous answer to that.

Speaker 1:

No, I love this topic because I think about it a lot, because I have this fridge here. I have the fridge in my garage, like my kitchen, like fridge is everywhere. You know we're a beverage society. I also think of it very similarly to how, like the conversation around what is intoxication, like you know, and how we measure intoxication, especially on the roadways, is like it's not just drinking and driving from, like you know, alcohol perspective. It's not developing a breathalyzer for cannabis to see if you're under. It's like at any given time, someone might be under the influence of two or three different substances and you know it's like. That is kind of like my evolution of how I think of drinking. Right, it's like you know, I just finished my espresso. At some point in the day I might have an infused beverage. That doesn't preclude me from having an alcoholic beverage later in the day, but I may have fewer alcoholic beverages, which is nice and thinking about it as an alternative. It's not like we have these debates a lot, right, it's just like it's not a direct corollary for alcohol. If you're expecting that, you're thinking about wrong.

Speaker 3:

But you know, I remember years ago when we were first making our first cannabis drinks, like BG growth in particular like it was a lot of that, like recreating an alcohol experience with cannabis. It was not how fast can the onset time be, and like what are ways of thinking about the buzz, and it's just not the same. It's different. It's just a different experience. Being high is different than being drunk and I think you have to recognize those are two very different forms of intoxication and you know everyone, just like we all learned with alcohol, has to find their relative tolerance and how you introduce this new option into the mix. So yeah, I think it's just a new part of the rotation and something we all have to find our own relative comfort level with and how things kind of balance out. But you know, some people it's not for them, some people it is. But yeah, it's about, you know, finding this new balance between this very interesting and exciting alternative.

Speaker 2:

All throughout. Another idea that I think about and I'm the person of the three of us that is not actually in the beverage space, but really adult beverages compared to non adult beverages, and I think about that even, like you know, we're all parents, all three of us, and, like, sometimes I buy these. These are non alcoholic, they're seltzers, but it's like a very bitter soda made by this really cool company I think they're called Hella, out of Brooklyn.

Speaker 1:

I love them and they're just there's an East Coast brand called Hella. Hella has crossed the coast. I wonder if you're listening.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I get it at Whole Foods and it's bitters and soda water and it's like my son, who's six, would think it's disgusting if he tried it. It's an adult beverage, unquestionably, but it doesn't have anything that's intoxicating in it. It's really like with coffee. I don't give coffee to my kid either, because caffeine is too much, and so I think that, as I'm starting to see these mix of these what lots of people are calling mocktails, like this bitters drink I'm talking about cannabis it's all kind of adding to this new category of just broadening what an adult beverage is, and some, for some reasons, based on on ingredients, like whether there's alcohol or cannabis in it, and others based on just the flavor profile and that kids don't necessarily like the taste of bitters or some of these more like aromatic flavors. So, yeah, I think that it's a complicated way to look at that fridge real estate, but it's definitely been changing. For me, my fridge over the last five years looks very different. Used to just be beer and wine and now it's not. There's all kinds of different things to put in there.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think what society has done over the years is like we only had so many options and we in alcohol was slotted in imperfectly as a solution for for many of our ailments and our coping mechanisms, and I think people are just happy now to have another tool in the toolbox. Right, it's like. I don't like, it's crazy. I used to drink so much and you know Paul, paul's you know team is going to hate hearing all this, but it's just like I used to drink a ton of alcohol and now it's like I have that moment in front of the fridge, or well, it's called 5pm and I'm like no, I don't really want alcohol. That's not exactly what I want, and maybe I don't even want exactly a PC beverage. Sometimes it's a combination of the two, which I've talked about in the past. You know it's like I love that combination and I just I don't know it's like. I think I think about this a lot in like when we get into product development conversations because we have all these other like active ingredients available to us and I am curious as to like because you know, paul, you are using, you know, teas and teas kind of can actually have caffeine and all that kind of stuff, and that itself is another active ingredients. It's like, how do you see this confluence of, like these different categories starting to work together in the future?

Speaker 3:

Well, I like. The future is now bad right. Like the next generation are the newest generation of drinkers, like the newest LDA legal drinking age. Their relationship with alcohol is very different than my relationship with alcohol, your relationship with alcohol, our relationship with alcohol when we were in college, like this is the future and we have to be prepared for it, both as like a society that is more and more like transparent with their health and safety and what they put in their bodies, and like a business that has real revenue at stake in terms of how we prepare for the next 10 years of volume. And so it's really just being completely aware of how society is evolving. Its relationship to alcohol and non-alcoholic products, lighter, lower alcohol products and cannabis products are all now in the mix and a welcome alternative. You know, I think when I think about, like, the last drink of the night is usually the one that I regret most, and if it's a cannabis drink, I'm usually very pleased with my decision. I think that you know these are everyone's individual stories, but I think the fact is the newest legal drinking age consumers are not unique and their relationship with brands, product quality, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis it's just. It's just this is the 21st century that we have to prepare for it.

Speaker 2:

Along those lines. I think that what, in some ways, what you're insinuating. I think it's sexy to be healthy these days and people want to take good care of themselves, and so I'm curious, within the leaning into that of the non-alcohol choices that are out there, and what do you think about some of the other kind of better for you ingredients that people are using in products and do you think that they go well with cannabis, other types of vitamins and herbs and adaptogenic kind of the already kind of established, generally considered safe on the list from the FDA kind of stuff?

Speaker 3:

Well, you know I think about. I'm not a wellness forward consumer. I don't dabble in a lot of natural health products. I don't even really dabble in too many kind of minor cannabinoid stuff like my CBNs and CBGs. I'm aware of them and I'm very intrigued at continuing to advance the science, but I know what THC does and I'm very confident in that being a fact and I think that I try and think about, like my active ingredient and what product I'm Boston beer cells and what type of product Boston beer creates. You know we're a beer company. We make low dose alcoholic beverages, session of alcoholic beverages that provide, you know, an experience that is, you know, to be controlled as an adult experience, and we try and do the same thing with THC here in Canada. So I think I do think there's a world for wellness type of products and think about cannabinoids and, you know, natural health ingredients and interesting product claims for kind of an overall like goop type of consumer. But like we're a beer company and we make beer type products, refreshing adult beverages, and THC is, I like to say, the most honest cannabinoid, it's the one that has the most predictable effects and that's that's kind of what our focus is. So I'm definitely not the one to speak to the nuanced world of natural health products and how those two could interact because, like we're, we're about like responsible adult consumption, first with alcohol and now with THC, and that's kind of the way I think about it is. I try and not not lean into things that are outside of our depths that makes sense yeah, it's interesting.

Speaker 1:

It's like I wonder what. How do you kind of like think about from your lens, like just what are the next big steps, you know, that can influence the trajectory of teapot. I mean, obviously, like you know, we're all hoping for, for some federal legalization here in the US. But being a Canadian based company, having been through the experience with canopy growth, you know what kind of keeps you coming back to the table every morning with with the bigger to kind of keep the company forward. Like what, what's exciting you right now?

Speaker 3:

honestly, I think that teapot as a brand is. I think I mean I'm biased here, but I think teapot is the most socially acceptable cannabis brand I've ever seen. Like it's. It's got a friendly name. It is a low-dose product only five milligrams of THC. It does not taste like weed, it tastes like a great crushable non-carbonated iced tea and it really is about normalizing the category. And I think what keeps me motivated is just how seemingly beloved people are our drinkers are towards towards teapot. They love teapot, they love the branding, they love the taste. It's very much a brand that they go back to time and time again and finding loyalty in any product category, but particularly cannabis, where there's new products at dispensary every day. So how do you get people to be loyal and want to buy your product over and over again? And to see that level of repeat and brand loyalty is very motivating for us. So I think just the organic, grassroots success of teapot and the the love we get from our drinkers and just how people love telling people about teapot because it's so disarming and it's so welcoming to a social setting. So yeah, yeah, I mean I'm biased, but I think what brings me back time and time again lately is it's just seeing how a brand like and product like teapot can change the cannabis conversation for the good.

Speaker 1:

I will say I can remind her to anyone just listening I'm wearing a teapot sweatshirt. You guys have the best swag, like the quality of products, like I got one of those, not the stigma, like hoodies. Like go to the merch store, go to the teapot.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I forgot to talk about it wwwdrinkteapotcom. We ship internationally for our swag, not for our drinks. But you can buy this swag on our website. We'll ship it. Ship it anywhere.

Speaker 1:

I wore to drop the kids off at school this morning and then even got a couple compliments. So it's like you know, it's just like those little pieces of normalization. You guys have done a phenomenal job. It just like tying it all together. Like I said, I really hope I can get, get some of this product down here in in the US sometime soon. Otherwise I owe you a visit. Yeah, I mean what, what? What are you gonna be in? Are you gonna be in Vegas for mj biz?

Speaker 3:

not, not this time around. Ryan sent me. Ryan Pinsky, your excellent sales VP, sent me an indication you guys throwing some some sort of big party there in Vegas sounds like it's gonna be a great time, but I won't be able to make it, unfortunately.

Speaker 1:

I don't know how big it is. It's not like, though, the ones at the palms where they have the.

Speaker 2:

I heard it was the biggest party in Vegas should be good right in a right oh yeah, it's gonna be a rager at 9 30 in the morning. Well, paul, this has just been so fun. I've really appreciated you sharing so openly and learning your perspective on the space, and I really have liked your kind of laser focus on on on what teapot is about and not straying from that, which I think is a good lesson and reminder for all of us. We're getting close to the top of the hour, so what that means is it's time for our last call, and so that's when we ask you how you'd like to make a last lasting impression on our guests. So, paul, what's your last call?

Speaker 3:

lasting impression. You know, okay, I'll just kind of go down that stop the stigma around, because I think it's a great cause that I'm really proud of. So if you go to drink teapot calm and go to our merch store, we have a collab clothing collab with a group here in Toronto called the Peace Collective. It's called stop the stigma and every pro, every sale of merch we've got a sweatshirt, t-shirt and a tote bag. The sale of those go towards pardons Canada. And pardons Canada is a group here in Canada focused on removing cannabis convictions from your criminal record, and last this year we've raised $10,000 for pardons Canada and we're gonna keep selling that merch and keep raising money. So it's a cool piece of swag. It just says stop the stigma, on it with a nice big pot leaf and the proceeds go towards pardons Canada. So I would say my, my selfless plug here is that check out our website, drink teapot calm, check out the merch and and help us donate some money to pardons Canada.

Speaker 1:

I love it, I'll be there yeah, and Paul, I you know it's. It's been such a pleasure getting to know you over the years and, obviously, getting to work together. Really appreciate you taking the time. I know you're a busy guy but this is, as Anna Ray said. Well, I'll take any type any opportunity to talk about beverage, but this, this has been a great conversation. I hope the the listeners you know anyone that did think that big bad Bev was coming for for your weed and all that that it's not a lot scary and that we yeah, I mean this is just look like I'm in the Death Star, right?

Speaker 3:

now, so this might be the Death Star, but we're a benign death is that a smoke shirt is. That no, this is. This is a poppy leaf. Oh, we're gonna stay here, but yeah, no, I have a.

Speaker 1:

Tokyo smoke shirt somewhere, okay. Well, yeah, it's a collector's item now all right. Well, thank you, paul, we're gonna say goodbye to you now and, anna Ray, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to to flex my beverage brain a little bit. It's always it's the wheelhouse, it's.

Speaker 2:

It's fun to kind of dig into these conversations yeah, we got to share what we know about and especially, bring our favorite people on to have have conversations. I'm all about it. I'm loving learning more about beverage by doing this podcast with you, and I've been drinking more cannabis beverages just since. I've been doing. I'm meeting all the people and I'm into that it's great and we're getting to the holidays.

Speaker 1:

Holidays are perfect time to consume your cannabis beverage. Here's a little commercial for my people. There's no stigma. When you're sitting at the table and you're consuming your cannabis beverage, you know everyone else is consuming their wine, so it's it's much easier than lighten up out in the freezing cold weather, so think about that. Stock up, all right. As we wrap up, I want you to remember that the dialogue doesn't have to stop here. We invite you to continue these conversations. We'd love to hear your thoughts. Who would you like to see? What do you want to hear us talk about? We are immensely grateful to you. This has been a lot of fun getting off the ground. Come see us in Vegas. Reach Vegas, reach out. We'll get you an invite to to this epic 9 30 am party. Yeah, so like, subscribe, share, do all those things. I'm not an influencer yet. I'm gonna get that down at some point, you know. I want to take a moment and thank my amazing team, the infusion wizards at Virtosa for all the support in my digital boondoggles and, of course, an array and her team at Wolf Meyer. If you need advice, cannabis guidance, all that kind of stuff, she is a wealth of knowledge. Reach out, wolf Meyer. Until then, until next time, remember, stay curious, stay informed and keep your spirits high. We'll talk to you soon.

Exploring the World of Cannabis Beverages
Cannabis in the Beverage Industry Progression
Packaging and Marketing Cannabis Challenges
Exploring the Evolution of Adult Beverages
The Future of Alcohol and Cannabis