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CBD Drinks Player Weller Adds Oskar Blues Founder Katechis Ahead Of THC Launch

April 26, 2022

Boulder, Colorado-based Weller has been in the CBD drinks business since 2019 and has expanded rapidly. The brand’s CBD sparkling water comes in flavors including Black Cherry, Tangerine, and Watermelon with 25mg of CBD a 12-ounce can and sells for $30 a variety six-pack on Weller’s website. It’s also sold in more than 2,500 retail locations including big names like Wegmans, Sprouts, Erewhon, and others. Now the company is making the jump to THC drinks and has brought on Dale Katechis, founder of pioneering craft brewer Oskar Blues, as a partner and all-around adviser.

Launching next month, Weller’s new THC-infused lineup comprises three new sparkling water flavors: Tropical Peach, Blackberry Hibiscus, and Starfruit Lime, all with 5mg of THC and 5mg of CBD a 12-ounce can. Tropical Peach is made with terpenes derived from the sativa cannabis strain Maui Wowie, promising an energizing and uplifting effect; Blackberry Hibiscus is derived from indica strain Northern Lights for relaxing and calming effects; and Starfruit Lime comes from hybrid Blue Dream, for euphoric and mood-enhancing results.

Transparency about what’s in the can is one way Weller plans to differentiate itself. “The strain is on the side of the can,” Weller co-founder John Simmons told SND. “We’re trying to balance the education of bartenders and current consumers against where we’re going to be three, five years from now. We felt that adding this single-origin strain-specific terpene would allow the bartenders to educate consumers on what they can expect in terms of an experience, because that question has to be answered.”

Katechis is taking something of a jack-of-all-trades role with the company, joking that his official title is Basement Dweller some days and Chief Cannabis Guru the next. “I hope my experience in the craft beer space will broaden Weller’s opportunities,” he told SND. “I can certainly at least share all of our screw-ups and maybe save some headaches.” He then noted, more seriously, that cannabis drinks are still in their infancy and that his experience with Oskar Blues in the early 2000s provides a parallel.

“Cannabis infused beverages start with the consumer,” Katechis said. “It’s important to put that flag in the ground as one of the first companies that’s doing it right. I think with the solid foundation that’s already been built, and maybe with some of my input of what not to do, it might give us the head start needed so that when a lot of these restraints around THC and the industry as a whole are lifted, we’ll be off to the races. And my hope is that it allows us to capitalize on this trajectory we’ve set up.”—Danny Sullivan

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