The last vestige of San Diego beer brand Helm’s Brewing Co. disappeared this spring, when its Ocean Beach taproom officially changed its affiliation to that of Two Roots Brewing Co. While the old Helm’s sign has been replaced, and its ship wheel logo likewise scrubbed from doors, walls, and tasting room trays, little else has really changed about the space. A note on the chalkboard menu behind the bar explains, “New owners bought Helm’s 2 yrs ago.” Below that, a more cryptic note adds, “No THC beer in here.”
That distinction matters because the namesake roots behind the Two Roots brand refer to hops and marijuana. This unique San Diego brewery touts its product as, “the world’s first cannabis infused, non-alcoholic beer.”
The late 2017 sale of Helm’s made little splash in the beer world. The Kearny Mesa brewery hadn’t been particularly large or successful, and its buyer wasn’t a big beer conglomerate looking to add craft cachet to its portfolio. Its buyer, a San Diego business named Cannabiniers, was focused on the legalization of recreational marijuana in California and other states. Within six months of buying Helm’s, Cannabiniers (whose name derives from a portmanteau of Cannabis and Pioneers) began selling de-alcoholized beer infused with THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) in 10-ounce cans within the state of Nevada.
“Getting that to market involved the ability to brew actual beer, find a way to remove the alcohol from it, and add cannabis,” says Kevin Love, vice president of market activations for Cannabiniers. He adds, “We didn’t know any other way than owning a brewery to making it a reality.”
Immediately following the Helm’s sale, its Kearny Mesa brewery was permanently closed to the public while these processes were established. However, the OB taproom remained
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