Hemp in Your Hops? CBD’s Potential to Substitute for Alcohol

Thomas L
Hemp in Your Hops? CBD’s Potential to Substitute for Alcohol

Low alcohol by volume (ABV) or non-alcoholic beer is a relatively niche drink of choice, yet it has intoxicated a particular cohort. One that’s steadily growing: the market is estimated to grow to $30 million by 2030, according to research.

Brewers and growers alike looking into the budding space will find that there’s more than one factor driving the trend. A new breed of beer drinkers are turning up at pubs, one with sensibilities that align with the benefits provided by CBD. Below are some reasons why more CBD-infused beer may be showing up in your local bar soon.

People Are Willing To Pay for It

The rising interest in alcohol-free beer can be attributed to more people growing aware of the negative effects of the compound. The current health pandemic has further underscored the importance of wellness for the general public, and this shift is reflected in how they consumed beer. People seemingly stocked up on low and non-alcoholic beer in the weeks prior to the first lockdown, triggering a surge in sales.

Clearly, people are willing to spend more for a cleaner drinking experience. Even if it’s at a premium: Silent Pool’s Colorado High Gin sold 800 bottles in two days, despite costing over ten times the price of your average pint. The impetus to expand the drink menu is obvious for pubs, profit-wise. “A more varied range of non-alcoholic drinks would help venues to tap the alcohol moderation trend, and is a powerful means to attract visitors generally,” according to research firm Mintel.

No Hangovers

Hangovers have been the blight of alcohol-drinkers since the beginning of time. The search for a cure can be traced as far back as ancient Romans slugging back raw owl eggs to ease the pain.

Although not a cure per se, CBD-infused beers, which often contain zero to miniscule amounts of alcohol, offer a less painful way to enjoy your pints. And in our fast paced world, that holds an undeniable appeal. “With increasingly busy lives and added responsibilities, losing whole days to hangovers is no longer an option,” says James da Silva, owner of London-based Hop & Hemp.

The Calm without the Kickback

Cannabidiol-infused ale probably won’t sound appealing if complete inebriation is your aim. But that’s not the goal of most Britons when they drink, anyway. Although drinking beer is a huge part of the culture, many do it to relax and socialise with peers.

And pleasantly calm is absolutely the wheelhouse of CBD. “CBD does not offer a drunk feeling; I would describe it as taking the edge off, much like an after-work pint,” says da Silva. 

The compound has also been linked to a significant reduction of anxiety symptoms. If the goal of drinking beer is to unwind after a long day, then a CBD-infused pint may be just what many are looking for.

CBD also carries less of the negative perceptions surrounding alcohol, although it still carries some of its own through its association with marijuana. “CBD is not burdened with the same stigma that alcohol has, yet it’s not ‘nothing either’,” says Lolly Watkins, account director at alcohol marketing firm YesMore.

Hops for The Next Generation of Pub Goers

Alcohol consumption among the UK’s youth continues to steadily drop, while more young adults are starting to classify themselves as non-drinkers. This may come as a surprising shift for some, as drinking beer has traditionally been thought of as a rite of passage.

CBD, in comparison, is on the opposite trajectory. More people between the ages of 25 to 34 use CBD, as compared to individuals over the age of 65. Conversely, the 65 and above age group are the country’s most frequent drinkers. CBD-infused drinks may be the link that connects to a demographic that no longer thinks so fondly of beer.

An All-Around Healthier Option

Out of all the reasons people drink beer, health is probably the least on the list. While some compounds in beer can be good for you--similar to how the polyphenol content of wine is good for the body--there’s little merit to be found for drinking beer in the amount many of us do every weekend.

CBD-infused beer offers a chance to put a twist on beer-drinking habits, one that’s perhaps better for your body and mind. Unlike alcohol, CBD is non-intoxicating. The compound has also been linked to a bevy of beneficial health effects, from helping stabilise blood pressure to easing pain from inflammatory conditions.

CBD may also mitigate the negative effects of alcohol. In particular, the damage it deals to your liver and brain. One study on mice has found that CBD has the ability to affect the alcohol-induced inflammation of liver cells, and possibly reduce oxidative damage to neurons through its antioxidant properties. Another study has found that CBD can help restore function to liver and brain cells damaged by solvents.

More studies will be required to confirm the effects on humans. Yet these early results are a promising step in the right direction, especially for a market that’s increasingly leery of alcohol’s effects on the body.

A final note before you pop open your first can of CBD beer: This article is not intended to give medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider before trying CBD products, and refrain from consuming it with other alcoholic beverages.

Since January 2019 CBD has been considered a ‘novel food’,  meaning that you need to apply to the FSA for authorisation to sell it in the UK. At JM Wholesale, all the CBD products we stock are Novel food compliant, meaning you can buy with confidence, knowing they’re fully approved by the Food Standards Agency.

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