Crafting the World’s First Cannabis Beer

Crafting the World’s First Cannabis Beer

Province Brands of Canada is aiming to be the first company to bring the world’s first beer brewed entirely from cannabis, instead of barley or grains, to market. In order to do so, Province Brands must first prove that their patent-pending process is capable of converting cannabis plant material and hemp plant material into an aqueous solution that can be used as a base for producing fermented beverages. The challenge with this process is that it’s extremely difficult to break down cannabis and hemp plant material.

In April 2018, Province Brands partnered with Loyalist College’s Applied Research Centre for Natural Products and Medical Cannabis to assist with this task. The research project aimed to help Province Brands prove their patent-pending process using hemp plant material and determine if commercial scale-up was economically feasible.

This was accomplished at a research scale by systematically testing a series of conditions for breaking the mature hemp stalks down so the sugars could be readily accessed and used in the fermentation process, a required step for product development. Subject-specific experts in engineering and brewing worked with the research team and enabled the student research assistants an opportunity to learn from a greater scope of expertise. The results of this project, which included the optimization of process conditions, were then successfully tested on a larger pilot scale.

The current focus for Province Brands is applying the results of the pilot studies to a commercial scale.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Loyalist College in our groundbreaking research to create a new brewing tradition, which will ultimately create jobs across Ontario and most importantly, introduce consumers to a healthier and safer alternative to alcohol beverages. It is never easy to work on a process this new and innovative but shaking up an existing industry is always worthwhile.” – Jennifer Dianne Thomas, Co-Founder and CLO of Province Brands of Canada

Under the scope of this project, two Loyalist Biosciences students (Robyn Neri and Dallas Bonner) were offered 18-month research assistant contracts. Upon graduation, Neri and Bonner were hired by Province Brands and continue to complete the development work involved in this project. Province Brands hopes to hire even more Loyalist students as the partnership continues.

“It’s very innovative and research intensive,” said Neri. “We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. We have an idea, but it’s never been done before. We’re on the front line of this research and this kind of product. Everything about this experience is exciting.”

Would You Add Crickets to Your Dinner Plate?

Entomo Farms thinks you should.

Their cricket powder contains twice as much protein compared to beef, more calcium than milk, includes all nine essential amino acids, has more iron than spinach and is organic and gluten-free. All of this is accomplished by using a fraction of the farming essentials, such as water and feed that typical beef, pork, and chicken require.

Entomo Farms is establishing a new paradigm of perception and desirability to motivate people worldwide to consume insect protein. There was tremendous interest from commercial retailers and food producers to sell the cricket powder, but first Entomo Farms had to identify the product’s shelf life so it could provide a “best before” date.

Entomo Farms did not have the necessary expertise, so it partnered with Loyalist College’s Applied Research Centre for Natural Products and Medical Cannabis. Over a two-year period, Loyalist College measured parameters such as fat, protein, and moisture using advanced technologies such as supercritical carbon dioxide extraction to determine product stability and shelf life.

The results of this study provided Entomo Farms with a minimum shelf life of two years for their cricket powder. As a result, large retailers and producers such as Loblaws and Breadcraft (New Zealand) have put Entomo Farms’ cricket powder on their shelves and in their products, generating a minimum of a 20 percent increase in revenue for Entomo Farms since 2017.

Although commercialization was the goal, the impacts of this project are much larger than a profitable product and income generator. Entomo Farms envisions that by having a high quality, high protein product that is stable without refrigeration, it will give governments and development organizations the ability to provide food security for areas stricken by a natural disaster or for populations in Third World regions where the energy resources for food storage are sparse or null.

“The groundbreaking and pioneering research we are conducting in partnership with Loyalist is helping to understand key elements of insect foods, specifically cricket powder performance, characteristics and functionality. It is creating confidence and normalizing this emerging food category. We are excited and look forward to many more collaborative projects in the future.” – Dr. Jarrod Goldin, President of Entomo Farms

In February 2019, Entomo Farms and the Applied Research Centre for Natural Products and Medical Cannabis will once again be partnering to further advance the world of insect protein innovation by investigating extraction of various nutrients from insects, to be used in food, pharmacology, health and beauty sectors.

Someday soon, this alternative source of protein could become a household staple and eating hickory-flavoured crickets, the new norm.