Samuel Adams brewer to research cannabis beverages in Canada

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The Boston Beer Co., the maker of Samuel Adams, announced plans to establish a subsidiary in Canada to research nonalcoholic cannabis beverages.

The subsidiary will serve as a dedicated research and innovation hub focused on nonalcoholic cannabis beverages, according to a news release.

The company did not say where it intends to sell any products it develops in Canada, nor did it share any associated costs tied to the initiative.

Boston Beer said it hired Paul Weaver to lead the subsidiary in Canada.

Weaver was previously director of innovation for Smiths Falls, Ontario-based cannabis producer Canopy Growth. He also served as senior innovation manager at the Molson Coors Beverage Co.

“This new subsidiary will enable the company to develop and pilot unique cannabis beverages while cannabis regulations continue to evolve in the United States and worldwide,” the company wrote in the release.

Boston Beer follows in the footsteps of other brewers entering the cannabis space, such as Pabst Blue Ribbon with its Cannabis Infused Seltzer in California and California-based Lagunitas Brewing Co.’s 2018 partnership with AbsoluteXtracts, another California marijuana company.

Molson Coors entered the Canadian cannabis industry in 2020 by partnering with Canadian producer Hexo Corp.

The biggest to date has been Corona brewer Constellation Brands, which made headlines in 2018 with a $3.8 billion investment in Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth.

However, cannabis-infused beverages have thus far failed to catch on in mature adult-use markets in the United States: In Colorado, weekly market share for marijuana beverages ranged from 0.9% to 1.5% during the first half of 2020.

In Washington state, cannabis beverages captured around 1.4% of the marijuana market over the same time period.

Some brewers are staying on the sidelines.

Last year, Ontario-based Waterloo Brewing halted its cannabis plans after concluding “the size of the prize” did not warrant the investment.

Shares of Boston Beer trade on the New York Stock Exchange as SAM.