Food & Drink

South African brewer eyes future in cannabis beer

A craft brewery in South Africa has launched the continent’s first lager containing cannabis, capitalizing on the global popularity of the Durban Poison strain of the plant. Cannabis was recently legalized for private use in the country.


A craft brewer in South Africa is taking advantage to market cannabis beer after a recent court decision to allow private use of cannabis in the country.

Poison City Brewing which was launched in 2015 produces five different beers, including its latest brand, Durban Poison Cannabis lager.

The Brewery’s owners say they have received a lot of interest from investors who wanted to fund the new beer.

Durban Poison is blended with hemp instead of hops, which is usually used to flavour beer.

Hemp and cannabis are from the same family of crops but hemp does not contain the psychoactive chemical agents found in marijuana.

Graeme Bird is the co-founder of Poison Beer City Brewing.

“The easiest route into the market was to go with beer. And an interesting part there is that in beer there’s an ingredient called hops which most people know about and hops is actually part of the same plant group as cannabis,” he said.

In September, the Constitutional Court decriminalized the use and cultivation of cannabis in private space. But the decision did not legalize its trade or distribution. Even displaying cannabis in public remains legally dubious.

Even then many underground cannabis entrepreneurs are hoping the pending legal changes will allow them to bring their businesses out of the shadows.

Lawmakers have two years to amend the country’s cannabis laws, but the industry isn’t waiting and even products like Durban Poison Cannabis lager are getting noticed.

“The thing that would differentiate Durban Poison from the rest of the beers we make is definitely the hemp seeds. They give a really nice-like nutty kind of flavour to the beer that you don’t find in a lot of beers,” said Matthew Monteiro, a brewer at Red Rock Breweries.

The lager which is sold in different bars and outlets around the country isn’t to everyone’s taste however.

“I don’t think it’s something that I’ll order again but very interesting. I think the name ‘cannabis’ is what brings your attention to it but besides that I’m not a fan but I like the name,” said Kgomotso Mokgashwe, a Johannesburg resident.

“I don’t really get that whole cannabis thing; if you never told me that, I wasn’t gonna think it’s a cannabis beer. So, they must put some more cannabis, maybe like a smell or something, I don’t know,” said Dakalo Motselele, another Johannesburg resident.

The lager is named after Durban Poison – a popular strain of marijuana known around the world for its distinctive smell and relatively short flowering period.

Associated Links

  • Poison Beer City Brewing
  • Medicinal plants
  • Herbalism
  • Entheogens
  • Euphoriants
  • Medicine
  • Cannabis
  • Health
  • Cannabis law
  • Medical cannabis
  • Legality of cannabis

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