If you follow the news in the field of hemp business and the progress of reform, then you probably know that over the past couple of years, many large companies producing beer and other alcoholic beverages have moved in the direction of the actively developing market of marijuana. Such giants of the alcohol business as Molson Coors, Constellation, AB Inbev, and even Heineken already have their own subsidiaries engaged in the production of hemp beer, both in the United States and Canada. In addition to such corporations, in the regional markets of both countries you can find a lot of small, local companies, like Two Roots and Hill Street. Both large and small hemp breweries produce a drink according to the same technology: Initially, the plant produces different types of beer, fermenting hops and malt, after which, Various impurities and flavors are added to the product, including hemp oil extract containing a high concentration of CBD. It is worth noting that the oil is added to the product last, not first, because the cannabinoids in the plant tissues are hydrophobic compounds that cannot be easily dissolved in water.
Using this uncomplicated technology, anyone with the necessary equipment can brew a beer and fill it with hemp extracts. However, in nature there is a slightly different drink, which can be fully called “beer brewed from a hemp plant.” This product is an invention of the brewer Duma Vensach, a resident of Canada, who is the general director and chief technologist of a small Province Brands brewery . At the moment, his patented technology for the production of natural kannapiv allows the company to produce an unusual product that does not look like extract drinks.
As Vensach himself describes, in fact, his company brews a beer according to the traditional recipe, which implies the fermentation of some organic product. However, unlike conventional beer, derived from the fermentation of hops and malt, the cannabinoid drink is produced thanks to the fermentation of the hemp plant, in addition to the usual beer ingredients. In the tub with the future drink is not added any impurities, such as sugar or flavors. As a result, thanks to the fermentation of hops, malt and hemp in a vat of water, the output is a beer that is naturally filled with cannabinoid extracts, like THC and CBD, in addition to ethanol.
In the presented interview with journalist Lorna Evans, Mr. Vensach in some detail tells the features of brewing such a beer, and also tells the story of the formation of its brewery.
Lorna Evans: Your company, Province Brands, in fact, owns a unique product in its form, in the form of natural cannapiva, the production of which many experts working with cannabis considered impossible. Tell me please, how did you come up with a brilliant idea about technology that allows you to freely cook such an “impossible” product?
Duma Vensach: Well, probably, the moment when I was visited by the idea of creating hemp beer was one trip a few years ago. Then I took my parents to one of the legalized states in the United States so that they could get recreational marijuana. In general, it was the idea of my father, who had long been waiting for the onset of legalization in our native Canada. I remember that he told his mother not to worry about the trip, “Honey, just imagine that we are back in Berkeley,” reminding her about the period of study at the University of California in this city, where they did not only meet in the late 60s each other, but also with smoking marijuana. For a long time I have not seen them as joyful as when they first saw the legal cannabis shop. After one visit to the store, they bought themselves various cones and extracts that they smoked for two weeks in a row without stopping.
In any case, back to the topic. When we returned home, the father tried to roll the joint, however, 30 years of abstinence from smoking made themselves felt. He crumbled a large lump in the dust, scattered everything on the coffee table, after which, after spending about half an hour with the paper, he got a cigarette, more like a toothpick. The mother, in turn, tried to smoke through the evaporator, eventually spilling part of the purchased oil on the carpet, forgetting to close the tank of the device. In the end, not really smoking, they again went to the store, returning from it with a bunch of cannabis sweets, which they simply ate, having received the desired legal high. I understand that such mistakes may seem stupid for people who regularly use marijuana, but this allowed me to notice that many cannabis users, including myself, do not really know how to hammer cigarettes or use the vaporizer. Therefore, then I realized that food and drinks with hemp extracts is a simpler and more affordable alternative to smoking for any potential consumer, which does not require any knowledge or skills to use.
The next day I continued to think about this idea of creating hemp products, which would be easy and simple to use. Having compared hemp with other popular legal psychoactive substances, namely alcohol, tobacco and coffee, I realized that substances in the form of drinks are much more popular than those that can be consumed by smoking. It was then that I realized that selling a cannabinoid-containing beverage could be a very profitable business, attracting millions of customers. Drawing attention to the fact that some firms are already selling coffee, cocktails and beer with the addition of extracts of cannabinoid oils, I came up with the ultimate idea of creating my own brand of cannabeer. Of course, for detuning from competitors, each of which simply added plant extracts to regular beer, I decided to go a little different way than they, deciding to try to brew real hemp-based beer mixed with hops and malt. After several months of experimentation and information gathering, I, along with a couple of acquaintances who helped me establish the company, were finally able to get a drink that could be safely called a real cannabis-based beer.
LE: Did you have experience in the production of beer or other alcoholic beverages when you decided to open up Province Brands?
DV:Of course, at that time I and some of my colleagues had experience in the therapeutic cannabis industry, however, none of us had any idea how to brew beer properly. Accordingly, we had to learn in the course of experiments, on our own experience and mistakes. Of course, to begin with, we tried to get in touch with professional brewers from Canada and other countries of the world, to whom we visited some of them personally. It’s funny, but almost every one of them thought we were crazy when we explained our plans to create the world’s first natural cannabeer. You see, beer is brewed, or rather, fermented from hops and malt, the hydrocarbon compounds in their tissues break down into different sugars during the fermentation process. However, the hemp plant does not contain such hydrocarbons, therefore, in it, technically there is nothing at all,
Of course, we refused to accept the assertion that our idea was impossible, this time, turning to biologists to help us find a way to make cannabis compounds wander. After many months of work, we managed to do the “impossible”: We had the first recipe for producing hemp beer in our hands, by fermenting the plant along with the malt and hop.
LE: I understand that the recipe for beer is your patented “business secret”, but could you describe the main stages of the production process of hemp beer, from collecting plants to bottling a drink?
DV:In fact, our recipe is not a secret. If you are interested in the opportunity to try to cook your own natural cannabeer, then you can explore it yourself on our company’s website. Of course, some of the “branded chips” of our production are hidden under the heading of “corporate secrets”, but in general, anyone can learn about the basics of cooking natural cannabeer.
Actually, the first step in production is the selection of suitable plants with certain qualities. In general, as an ingredient for beer, both a high-quality technical breed plant and shrubs belonging to different therapeutic and recreational varieties will be suitable. We, in particular, use for production of our simple beer containing only alcohol, under the Cambridge Bay Imperial Pilsner brand, exclusively technical plants containing a high level of CBD. In the production of high-grade cannabeer, more psychoactive plant varieties are used, containing a high concentration of both CBD and THC, so that the output is a product that does not contain alcohol, but has a very strong and long-lasting psychoactive effect.
You might be surprised, but after collecting the plants for processing, we use all fragments of cannabis in the production of both types of drink, except its inflorescences. The foliage goes to the psychoactive version of beer, while parts of the stem and root system are added to the CBD version of the drink. The ingredients prepared for work are finely chopped, turned into a kind of paste using a special press, after which the resulting mass is sent to the tank of malt for fermentation.
At the end of the fermentation process, we add hops and other flavor impurities to the product, as well as extract alcohol from the drink, if we brew a psychoactive version of beer. The already mentioned Cambridge Bay Imperial Pilsner, containing CBD, but not THC, does not pass the last stage, with the result that it has an approximately 7% alcohol concentration, in addition to the presence of cannabinoid. Accordingly, after that, the finished product is bottled and packaged for shipment to stores.
LE:You said that the beer production process consists in the decomposition of hydrocarbons in the tissues of fermented plants into sugars and other simple compounds. As far as I understand, it is the sugars that give the beer its characteristic flavor. Tell me, do you use sweeteners or sugar in the production process of CBD and THC beer to disguise a rather unpleasant and sharp vegetable flavor of plant tissues?
DV:Yes, the problem of taste, due to the peculiarities of the fermentation process, is faced by all beer producers based on hemp extracts. As I have already explained, the technology of the absolute majority of other manufacturers of cannabeer is to produce a beverage that is usual in its qualities and parameters, and then cannabis plant oil extracts are added to it. You probably noticed that similar oils, in most cases, have a very unpleasant vegetable or earthy flavor, which, even when using a tiny fraction of oils, can completely kill all other tastes in a drink. For this reason, following the extract, our competitors often add sweeteners to their end product, such as aspartame or other sugar substitutes.
In our case, this problem disappears, since plant fragments are fermented with malt and hops. Accordingly, cannabinoids are directly in the drink, without affecting its taste. For this reason, not CBD, not THC, the product of our company does not need additional sweeteners to have a decent taste. As I noted earlier, the ingredients of our beer include only water, fresh hops and malt, in addition to hemp itself. For the same reason, our drinks have a natural “dry” flavor, corresponding to beer, and not artificial spiciness and sweetness, which is felt in the extracted types of beer. In general, the CBD drink has a rather curious and rich walnut flavor, with a long aftertaste. You can try it yourself. I assure you will like it!
LE:That is, you do not add additional flavors to the product? Then tell me, please, is it possible to add such impurities to natural cannapiv and what effect will they have on its taste qualities?
DV: Of course, no one forbids adding impurities to an already fermented product. We simply, as a team, believe that nothing colors the taste of beer like good, fresh hops. In addition, I personally consider the production of beer with a rich and full-bodied taste from the basic ingredients as the pinnacle of the art of brewing. Think for yourself: Anyone can add to their drink a lot of sugar or various flavors to conceal the generally tart taste of the product; we get such a rich taste in a natural way, selecting only the best ingredients and competently fermenting them.
LE:Tell me, how long do you ferment a beer before sending it to stores? Also please specify, how long can such a natural product be stored in the refrigerator?
DV: Different types of beer require a different period of time to complete the fermentation procedure. For example, ales are fermented much less than lager-type beverages. Actually, for this reason, on average, our CBD beer, Cambridge Bay Imperial Pilsner, spends in the tank for fermentation almost a month before bottling. In terms of storage in the conditions of a store or refrigerator, both of our drinks have expiration dates comparable to other types of natural and lively beer produced by small, craft breweries. Of course, we are now saving money for the purchase of equipment for the pasteurization of beverages, so that they can be sold not only in the United States and Canada, but also to export them far abroad, for example, to European countries.
LE:How do you position your drinks on the hemp market? Which population groups are most interested in your cannabeer?
DV:Although in the eyes of modern society, beer may seem to be an archaic means of recreation, especially in the face of increasing the legalization of cannabis, I personally love good beer. Actually, my opinion is shared by many other residents of Canada and the United States. Despite the criticism of beer as an unhealthy product, as well as the fall in the level of sale of mass beverage varieties in recent years, in both countries, almost every person, regardless of age, gender and social status, uses a glass of cold beer at least once a week to relax nerves. In other words, despite the criticism of its caloric content and high gluten content (gluten), beer remains the most popular and sought after legal recreational substance in the Americas. Accordingly, I believe that our variation of the drink, which does not contain a gram of gluten, as well as many times lower concentration of calories per liter, will have all categories of lovers of ordinary, alcoholic beer. Of course, our product is not far the cheapest in the category of craft beer, however, it is a healthier alternative to traditional beer for both the body and the human brain, which, in my opinion, will appeal to both young and old to consumers.
LE: Finally, please tell me how you plan to develop your company further, and when you can find Province Brands branded products in any supermarket in the region?
DV: I can immediately say that since the opening of the brewery, my friends and colleagues constantly overcame unachievable frontiers and accomplished what people previously considered completely impossible. Think for yourself: We managed to develop a recipe for this beer based on hemp, which until recently was considered impossible. We managed to expand the company and find investors for the mass production of the drink, despite the fact that hemp drinks are still illegal in Canada. In the end, despite these obstacles, we were able to produce a high-quality and tasty product that has already attracted the interest of millions of potential buyers.
Of course, so far we have to deal with the supply of other companies with cannabis cones, since the government regulations responsible for the distribution and sanitary standards for cannabis food and drinks will be published only by October of this year, however, no one of our team has any doubt that natural cannabeer quickly conquer not only the market of Canada and America, but also all other countries of the world that allow legal use of cannabis.
In addition, recently we were able to conclude a long-term cooperation contract with the Canadian Association of Cannabis Technical Cultivators, according to which the farmers in the organization will provide us with their production waste suitable for brewing beer at a reasonable price. It is quite possible that such cooperation and the completion of the construction of our main brewing shop will soon allow us to really mass produce and spill our drinks, which will bring their price down to the level of affordable, commercial beer, without prejudice to product quality. Despite all the difficulties, we face a lot of prospects for growth and development. It is possible that by the end of this year, our drinks will become a recognized and beloved brand in Canada.