Researchers working on new kind of green beer — with cannabis

You can smoke it, vape it or bake it, and soon enough you'll be able to crack open a bottle and drink it.

Researchers, students working with Toronto company on recipe for beer made with cannabis

Loyalist College and Province Brands of Canada are looking at using not just the flower and bud of the cannabis plant, but also stems and other wasted parts, to brew beer. (Ellen Jaskol/GrowForce)

You can smoke it, vape it or bake it, and soon enough you'll be able to crack open a bottle and drink it.

Researchers and students at Loyalist College's Applied Research Centre for Natural Products and Medical Cannabis in Belleville, Ont., are brewing up a new kind of beer, replacing barley with cannabis. 

The college teamed up with Toronto-based company Province Brands of Canada, which makes alcohol-free beer and spirits from marijuana, and for now they're using hemp in research and product development.

But once cannabis becomes legal, they'll be able to work with the real thing.

 A budding industry

Loyalist professor Kari Kramp told CBC Radio's Ontario Morning that researchers, students and engineers still have a lot of work to do to create a drinkable product.

And the pressure is on to do it quickly, she said. 

"They're working through the recipe development right now. They've done a lot of work ahead of time looking specifically at the details of the process through design of experiment," she said, adding that there's a patent pending for the product.

"It's unique because there are some challenges that are different when you're working with hemp and marijuana than if you're working with traditional grains like barley," she said. 

The project, which exists thanks to a grant from the Ontario government, aims to help Province Brands develop a beer it can sell in what's expected to become a big industry for cannabis products. 

Robyn Neri, an engineer from Province Brands of Canada, prepares test tubes for enzyme analysis at Loyalist College. (Province Brands/Instagram)

A different beer buzz

Kramp said she expects a cannabis beer would affect someone the same way smoking cannabis does, but that they'll know more about the effects once they begin development with actual cannabis. 

Province Brands also wants to make use of other parts of the cannabis plant that most companies leave behind, such as the stalk, Kramp said. 

An important focus for Loyalist's research team and Province engineers will be the beer's flavour, and investigating why it tastes the way it does from a scientific perspective. 

Kramp hasn't tried cannabis beer herself, but said industry researchers claim it'll have a nutty flavour.