When the first cannabis drinks hit the market a few years ago, they weren’t the smooth, high-quality beverages we see today. The cannabis industry itself was still in its infancy, cannabis technology was sorely lacking, and the results from these first attempts at infusing cannabis into beverages were not elegant. For instance, Lyden Henderson’s first run-in with a nonalcoholic, marijuana-infused beer last year left him with a bad taste in the mouth, literally.
It was chunky, he says, with soggy bits of marijuana floating throughout the beverage, creating what he refers to as “unpleasant consistency.” The texture was terrible as well, and he compares the taste to drinking milk that had been lying in a refrigerator for a couple of months. All in all, he recalls, it was the “most gross” drink he had ever had the misfortune of tasting in his life.
An entrepreneur at heart, however, Henderson saw the ordeal as a learning experience and vowed to create a much more superior cannabis beverage. For more than a year and a half, he and his workmates at Outbound Brewing, a nonalcoholic CBD and THC-infused beer firm he co-founded back in 2018, worked on developing a cannabis-infused beverage that was neither lumpy nor chunky. The company finally launched the line of cannabis beverages this year, with each 12 oz. bottle containing a smooth beverage infused with either 20 mg. of CBD or 10 mg. of THC.
Why was it so hard to infuse cannabis effectively into beverages until recently? Well, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, which are responsible for marijuana’s effects, are naturally fat soluble. This means that while they will readily mix with fats and oils, they do not mix easily with water. Tinctures, which are a liquid product, use an alcohol base, but since it is illegal to mix cannabis and alcohol, this technique cannot be transferred to cannabis beverages.
Edibles, which have recently been seeing increasing sales, take advantage of cannabinoids’ fat solubility by mixing them with oils and fatty butters. Again, this cannot be used to make cannabis-infused beverages. But as the industry has matured, cannabis beverage companies have perfected a procedure referred to as nano-emulsification. Here, marijuana oil is broken into microscopic particles and mixed into an emulsifier that has two parts: one that bonds with oil and another that binds with water. Thus, one end of the emulsifier takes the cannabis oil while the other binds with water, suspending the cannabis in water and producing a very consistent product.
Jake Bullock, co-founder of THC- and CBD-infused sparkling water maker Cann, works with SōRSE Technology, a Seattle-based lab, to perfect the emulsification process without impacting the taste. The result was a beverage that doesn’t taste like cannabis at all, has the consistency of seltzer and has a standardized amount of cannabis in each can.
With companies such as BevCanna Enterprises Inc. (CSE: BEV) (OTCQB: BVNNF) (FSE: 7BC) taking the role of manufacturing cannabis drinks to a whole new level, the bad taste experienced by Henderson years back is a thing of the past.
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