Five years in the making, the partnership demonstrates how buds can leverage suds and vice-versa, and comes complete with a QR code linking to a cannabis delivery menu
Long before he surfaced in the public eye as a leader for Social Equity cannabis companies and Massachusetts delivery operators, Devin Alexander worked behind the counter at Ermont in Quincy (the shop that later became Panacea Wellness). As he’s said in many interviews since, it was during this time that ideas for his own licensed weed biz started germinating.
But it was also then, around 2018, that another education started brewing.
“I first met [Colin Foley] when I was a budtender. … He would come in all the time with Widowmaker Brewing gear on and I’d be like, Hey man, do you work there? And he was like, No, I own it.”
Alexander said the co-founder of the Braintree-based brewery put him on to good beer. He continued, “Some of my coworkers would go [to the Widowmaker taproom]. It was the first craft beer I ever tried—before that, I thought Blue Moon was as good as it gets. It blew my mind.”
Sparking up friendly chats with Foley led to much discovery and, eventually, plans to collaborate. As Alexander and his business partner Bryce Hall started building what would become Rolling Releaf, the cannabis delivery service they currently run out of Newton, they also urged Widowmaker to mess with terpenes and flavors weed heads could savor. Those conversations spurred creations like the “stoner-inspired” Hopsmoker imperial IPA.
“That was before we had the name Rolling Releaf solidified,” Alexander recalled. “I told them, Once I get my own company, let’s do a collaboration.”
That led to the first batch of Welcome To Grassachusetts. The official partnership, described by Widowmaker as a New England IPA “brewed with a ton of oats, and hopped with Simcoe, Strata and some Centennial as well as being finished with a dose of terpenes,” dropped in celebration of 4/20 in 2022.
“We have developed a great relationship over the years with Devin and to see the constant roadblocks Devin has successfully navigated his company through while being an advocate for others has been so awesome,” Widowmaker explained. “We had a blast working with him on this beer and it has been great to know Widowmaker is appreciated by him and his peers as they work to erase the stigma that can be associated with medical and legal adult use cannabis.”
“They first released it in their Braintree spot [in April 2022], and I wasn’t even operational yet,” Alexander said. “Back then, we didn’t even know they were going to get a second spot—and that it would be only 10 minutes away from Rolling Releaf.”
While other beer brands have seen sales lag since legal weed entered the picture, last month Widowmaker expanded into Boston with its second taproom, on North Beacon Street in Brighton. That’s right in the heart of Rolling Releaf’s prime demographic.
“This is the first collab beer they have brewed at their Brighton location,” Alexander said. “We have a QR code on each of the cans that links right to our menu—and they [are being distributed] to all the cities that we deliver to.”
He noted that while some may view a partnership between buds and suds to be odd, it actually makes perfect sense. Since Rolling Releaf and companies like it can’t market or advertise to people who are under 21 years old, breweries are ideal. In addition to having their Welcome To Grassachusetts drop party at Widowmaker’s Brighton taproom this Sunday, they also plan on having subsequent popup events there moving forward.
“One of the big challenges for us as a non-storefront is to get in front of the consumer, and Widowmaker is definitely going to give us a great opportunity to get that kind of platform,” Hall said in a March interview with Talking Joints Memo. “Hopefully, when the beer comes out, that will really pour some rocket fuel on the awareness.”
Widowmaker and Rolling Releaf will host a Welcome To Grassachusetts “Sunday Bash” at the Widowmaker taproom on Sunday, Nov. 19 from 2pm to 8pm with food, music, and giveaways.