“Beer” is a popular drink, usually (but not always!) alcoholic, made from fermented grain. A “grain” is the seed or the fruit of a plant that’s used for food. In this way, a soybean is a “grain” as much as a grain of rice or some barley is grain. Many edible things, then, can qualify as a grain, and thus the starting material for beer — so why not the seeds, stalks, and fiber of the cannabis plant? It may come down to the meaning of words and an exercise in semantics, but this is the basis for what’s an understandably bold claim: The first-ever true “marijuana beer.”
There have been multiple examples of cannabis-related beer on the market. There’s been an American brown ale brewed with hemp seeds, there’s been — thanks to a quirk in California law, banning the mixture of THC and alcohol in the same glass —“IPA-inspired sparking water,” with CBD and/or THC added. But until now, there has not been a true cannabis-derived beer.
Until now! The beer produced by Province Brands, a small startup company in Toronto, is actually brewed with cannabis as “the grain,” rather than a later additive (not unlike hops, a resinous, trichome-producing plant similar to cannabis sativa that is used to give various beers their distinctive flavors ). We use “the grain” here loosely, as the brewers aren’t bothering with either the cannabis plant’s seeds or its flower.
“Our beer,” said Dooma Wendschuh, the company’s co-founder and CEO, “is brewed from the stalks, stem, and roots of the cannabis plant.” Or, as he pointed out, waste material that most growers otherwise discard.
As The Guardian reported, numerous companies across Canada are, like Province Brands, trying to figure out new, fresh, and otherwise unplumbed angles ahead of Oct. 17, when recreational marijuana sales begin in the country.
As the Miami native, who moved to Canada in 2016 specifically to cash in on the cannabis craze sweeping the country, put it: “The idea came from thinking, can we create something that can serve the role that alcohol serves in our society, and can we do that using this monumental sea change that is happening in our world right now?”
There are already a host of companies — with licenses from Health Canada — that produce marijuana flower, marijuana oil, and other “normal” cannabis products. But one commonly seen cannabis product — edibles — won’t be legal in Canada until a year later, according to the Guardian. This gives companies like Province at least some time to fine-tune flower alternatives.
For many, “beer,” and alcohol in general, appear to be obvious arenas in which to open up a cannabis front. For one, beer — and alcohol in general — are popular intoxicants. Cannabis is also a popular intoxicant. There are some of us who believe that alcohol—like beer — and cannabis go well together. “So why not,” the reasoning goes, “all together at once — in the same bottle or glass?!”
Liability and law, for one. Province Brand’s cannabis beer is beer, but it does not have alcohol. It does have THC — about 6.5 milligrams of THC per bottle, or about half of a recommended single-serving. (This, too, is a point of much contention, but for most people, 10 milligrams is a good benchmark.)
It took some trial-and-error — early prototypes of cannabis beer “tasted like rotten broccoli,” said Wendschuh — but the result is “a non-alcoholic, gluten-free beer that offers a high.”
And, if this ambitious entrepreneur has his way, the first step towards real “cannabis breweries.”
TELL US, have you ever tried a cannabis drink?