Daring Cannabis craft beers – South Africa

Weed World Magazine

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The beer´s name is cheeky and daring: “Durban Poison.” This heralds South Africa´s first Cannabis beer after marijuana use was legalized in Africa´s richest country. Now there are daring ambitions to shift South Africa´s young drinkers away from intoxicating traditional beers towards less “harmful” cannabis beer alternatives in a country with staggering rates of alcohol abuse.

Durban Poison is a cannabis-based lager launched by one Poison City Brewing, a startup in Durban, South Africa´s third biggest city. However terrifying the name might sound – the lager is tame and soft, claims its brewers.

A brief note: on 18 September South Africa´s Supreme Court declared the use of cannabis legal as longs it is used privately – and wrote that adults are allowed to grow the plant on their properties.

The Durban Poison Cannabis Lager as the drink is officially known, has no THC (the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that delivers the feeling of intoxication and being ‘high’) but is brewed with hemp oil. This, says the entrepreneurs behind Durban Poison, gives it a contrasting and soothing flavour.

Says, Graeme Bird, co-owner and founder of Poison City Brewing: “Actually, hops and cannabis are very so related and share many similar chemical characteristics, which means that hemp is an interesting and viable ingredient for beer making.”

Durban Poison cannabis strain is a landrace Sativa variety from South Africa, known globally for its spicy/sweet anise-like smell, taste and its clear-headed cerebral effect. Durban Poison is known for possessing a very distinct blend of sweet and spicy smells. Fennel/anise, orange, lemon, and a creamy sweetness are the most common descriptors says Graeme Bird.

“We always wanted to manufacture a beer that would contain cannabis because we have always known about the connection between hops and cannabis.”

He and his business partner, Andre Schubert sees themselves as pioneers in creating this South African first ever Cannabis beers.

“We are setting a precedent for other breweries in South Africa by being the first to experiment with this ingredient here. Most light beers sacrifice character and taste and can be quite ‘watery’, but the hemp seeds allow us to deliver a beer that is uniquely fuller on the tongue while still being light and refreshing,” Bird adds.

So far, Durban Poison Cannabis Lager is available exclusively at select supermarkets and venues in South Africa.

It aims to appeal to South Africa´s “young and trendy” and is punted as extra-ordinary, yet soft drinking beer which is below normal alcohol levels when it comes to intoxication.

The harm done to South Africa public health and economy by abuse of intoxicating traditional beers is about US$10 billion according to one study. So cannabis beers have potential to become a game-changer for South Africa entrepreneurs for as long as there is a clear industrial policy to regulate its value chains says Siyabonga Hadebe an economists in the capital Pretoria. Possible high yields from cannabis sales and demand for related drinks will compel farmers to switch from regular crops like maize to the hemp plant

South Africa has also been introduced its first hemp-infused gin, aptly named Mary Jane, courtesy of Monks, a craft gin maker in the Cape.

By Ray Mwareya

Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 138