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Local partnership brews up cannabis-infused beer

Avery Bleichfeld
Local partnership brews up cannabis-infused beer
Joanne Keith and Brian Keith, co-owners of the Rooted In dispensary, pose for a photo at Live Long Beerwork’s Roxbury taproom. The two companies partnered to make a beer infused with cannabis terpenes – a non-psychoactive compound in the plant that gives cannabis its aroma and flavor – that was released April 20. PHOTO: Reynolds Graves

Local bartenders and budtenders joined forces on Saturday to celebrate small businesses and 4/20 — cannabis culture’s high holiday.

Long Live Beerworks partnered with local dispensary Rooted In — located on Newbury Street but owned and operated by a team of Roxbury and Dorchester residents — to release a cannabis-infused IPA at a launch at their Roxbury taproom, where about 150 patrons sampled the latest merger of beer and bud.

“It really shows that there is a lot of crossover between cannabis and craft beer. Both groups showed up and everyone had a really good time,” said Brian Keith, co-founder and chief operating officer at Rooted In.

The event also included Caribbean food served by Dorchester-based Fresh Food Generation and featured musical performances from Boston band We Became Whales.

The beer, named “Live Rooted,” mixed a double hazy IPA with terpenes, the flavor compound from cannabis.

Keith said the compound, which has none of the psychoactive components of the plant, adds scent and flavor — what he called the “essence” — of cannabis to the drink.

“It definitely changes the experience of the of the IPA and gives it a different feel, a different flavor, a different smell because of those terpenes that are added,” he said.

Hops, the plant that is used in brewing to give beer its bitter flavor, is a cousin of the cannabis plant and has its own terpenes that contribute to the flavors and aromas of beer.

Armando DeDona, president and brewer at Long Live, said there’s a lot of similarity in flavor from the terpenes in both hops and cannabis.

“I think they just work really well together,” DeDona said. “We’ve used hops that are supposed to simulate the flavor of weed, but nothing like works exactly like the real thing.”

Long Live Beerworks had explored the use of cannabis terpenes before, said Jessica DeBry, the company’s co-founder, and knew as the 4/20 holiday approached that they wanted to partner with a local dispensary to celebrate.

For the two companies, the partnership is a chance to celebrate and support local businesses — their own and others.

Outside of the Long Live Brewery in Roxbury, the list of other retailers carrying the beer comprises local liquor stores and restaurants. It is not available at the Rooted In dispensary, which doesn’t have a license to sell alcohol.

“That’s what it’s all about, right? Finding those kinds of community partners and lifting each other up,” said Holly Alberti, vice president of sales and business development at Rooted In.

The teams are also partnering with Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Newbury Street — one of the businesses selling the Live Rooted beer — and will have representatives from both companies at an independent bookstores event April 27.

“I see this as a really great opportunity, just helping both the businesses grow, but then also the local community businesses too,” Alberti said.

The beer is available only for the next few weeks — DeBry said that Long Live tends to focus on shorter, limited run beers instead of so-called “flagship” flavors that are always on tap — but both businesses said they’d be open to future collaboration.

“There’s something amazing about having beer that’s super fresh,” DeBry said. “That’s our kind of background: Drink it while it’s fresh.”

beer, black business, business, cannabis, cannabis-infused beer, Long Live Beerworks, Rooted In