The Latest Cannabis Infused Beverage Has a Familiar Name

Pabst seltzer is a new cannabis infused beverage that has the PBR name, but is not associated with the company. (Pabst Labs)

Los Angeles-based Pabst Labs, which is a separate company from Pabst Blue Ribbon, recently launched a small-batch cannabis-infused seltzer with the PBR name.

The non-alcholic, THC-infused beverage, was made available in California in select dispensaries in early October. According to Pabst Labs brand manager Mark Faicol, who was previously employed by PBR, having a recognizable name for the new drink connects it with an existing audience.

“Why PBR? There have been some other players who have experimented in the space, right,” says Faicol. “But we feel like the entrance of PBR is going to be a game-changer. Not many other brands can claim 176 years of history connecting fans across generations around its products.”

The hope is that this beverage attracts both PBR brand loyalists and potential new customers. When asked for specifics, Faicol says that the target audience for PBR seltzer is everyone.

“[PBR] is a brand that has reinvented itself many times,” says Faicol. “Everyone kind of has a PBR memory, whether it’s ‘Oh grandpa drank that’ or ‘I saw it in this movie.’”

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Other major beer brands have also gotten into the infused beverage “space.” Lagunitas launched Hi-Fi Hops, a THC sparkling beverage, in June 2018. It was geared towards people who were looking into casually consuming cannabis. (Lagunitas also brewed The Waldo’s Special ale in honor of the Northern California origin story of 420.) In Georgia, SweetWater Brewing Co came out with a 420 Series IPA that combined terpenes with hops.

The cannabis-infused beverage industry is projected to hit about $2.8 billion by 2025 in the United States, and it’s a trend that’s been predicted as “the next big thing’ since 2019.

Since it was legalized in California in 2017, the beverage industry has seen infusions with wine, gin, energy drinks and more. According to a 2019 Forbes report, major brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Starbucks have all indicated they’re monitoring developments within the sector. But a big factor limiting the trend is the federal laws that still govern the distribution and sale of products that contain THC.

Because of that, the PBR seltzer is currently only available in California, with distribution and delivery options in the Bay Area. Even so, the product sold out within the first week of its launch. Faicol says he hopes to expand further—beyond the Bay Area and into Oregon—in the next several months.