New York’s first legal cannabis beverages went on shelves Thursday, when Housing Works Cannabis Co in Manhattan began selling ayrloom’s THC-infused sparkling water.
Ayrloom – a suite of products that include beverages, edibles and vapes – is owned by Gen 5 Labs, which is owned by the family that operates Beak & Skiff, a well-known Central NY apple orchard that also makes and sells CBD products, and alcoholic beverages under their 1911 brand.
Beak and Skiff CFO Mack Hueber said the company is putting a lot of its energy and focus on cannabis-infused beverages, because they think it’s a segment of the weed industry that’s ripe for growth.
“We have high hopes that the beverage category can grow, and one of the challenges for why that category has had difficulties growing is the infrastructure isn’t there – including on the manufacturing side,” Hueber said.
But with a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing and packaging facility south of Syracuse – the largest cannabis beverage production facility on the East Coast, Hueber said – Gen 5 Labs will likely have more than enough infrastructure to support ayrloom-branded products.
The facility can run up to 250 cans per minute. It has the capacity to run 25 million units per year or one million 24-pack cases per year, according to the company. Gen 5 will use the building to can ayrloom beverages and to white label drinks for other cannabis brands, Hueber said.
The brand’s 12-ounce sparkling waters contain 5 milligrams of THC and 5 milligrams of CBD per can, Hueber said. Flavors include black cherry, pink grapefruit, and pineapple mango flavors. Gen 5 plans to launch a higher-dose version later this year called ayrloom UP; each 16-ounce can will contain 10 milligrams of THC.
While beverages in some neighboring cannabis-legal states require a complicated child-proof container, NY regulators approved Gen 5 to sell ayrloom beverages in traditional cans – the same type used for soda and beer.
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Hueber said he thinks cannabis beverages are likely to catch on among people who want to use cannabis in social situations without smoking.
“It’s going to take a while, but what we see with beverages long term is it’s a more socially acceptable consumption form,” Hueber said. “This category can grow, and I think people in the Northeast know well that this is a drinking society.”