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Alcohol Drinks Features

Blue Moon Creator Shares His Journey To Cannabis Beer And The Difficulties Behind The Brew

Photos courtesy Ceria Brewing

Late last year, Dr. Keith Villa, the founder of Blue Moon, launched his very own line of cannabis-infused beer name Ceria. Based in Colorado, the brew sold out almost immediately upon launch and has become a hot ticket purchase at local dispensaries in the state.

So what was the journey behind Ceria?

Villa, who holds a PhD in brewing from the University of Brussels in Belgium, began his career more than 30 years ago at MillerCoors. Upon his retirement, Villa and his wife immediately began their own brewery based out of Colorado.

His foray into weed beer actually began a little bit before his retirement from Blue Moon and parent company MillerCoors in 2018.

Photos courtesy Ceria Brewing

“In 2014, that’s when recreational cannabis became legal in the state of Colorado. At that time there was still a pretty large stigma around cannabis,” he recalled. “But I thought, it’s very possible to brew with cannabis because if you look at the genetics in the family tree of hops, you’ll see that cannabis is a close cousin of the hops plant.”

Ever the scientist, Villa began to test the concept afterhours.

“So I tried at home and on my own time because I never wanted to endanger the federal brewing permit of Blue Moon and Coors. So I always did it, all the cannabis experiments at home on my own time.”

That’s when the first semblance of Ceria came to existence.

“I found out quickly that, you can brew some beers with cannabis. That really got me to thinking, you know, this could be a whole new category because there are so many people who don’t drink alcohol for health reasons or religious reasons or whatever and they do want cannabis, because a lot of people believe cannabis does have healthful medicinal properties.”

Villa brought his wife onto the new venture, someone who has been working with him from the very start during all of his home tastings and tests.

“She lived with me in Belgium where I was getting my PhD. She’s one of the few people I know and trust that actually has lived in Belgium and can truly judge Belgian Beers and European-style beers.”

Photos courtesy Ceria Brewing

The two put their heads together and discovered that this could be an entirely new frontier that’s been untapped.

“We started figuring out right away that this could be a whole new category for beer. And so yeah, when we retired, we started Ceria Brewing Company and figured out right away that the best path forward was to focus on great tasting, non-alcoholic beers, craft beers that have the effects of cannabis and not the effects of alcohol. It was really hard creating a great tasting non-alcoholic beer. “

Villa didn’t seem like a man who would shy away from the challenge, however.

“Luckily with all my years of brewing experience as a brewmaster, I was able to create a series of non-alcoholic beers that taste really good. The next step is adding the cannabis in. So we have the effects of cannabis inside of a great smelling and great tasting craft beer.”

Photos courtesy Ceria Brewing

Working with cannabis and alcohol is an extremely tricky task. Dr. Villa explained that there were some major legal hurdles they had to overcome before launching their new product.

“Cannabis is federally illegal,” Villa states. “Though it is legal in the state of Colorado. So the first hurdle was alcohol, because the federal government, they strictly forbid anybody to put something that’s federally illegal into an alcoholic beverage. So you cannot add cannabis to it.”

“The Colorado Division of Revenue, through a subdivision called the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), is the agency who controls and regulates the cannabis industry,” Villa explains.

Essentially, you can’t add cannabis to an alcoholic product and you can’t add alcohol to a cannabis product in the state of Colorado.

“So it was real clear right away that we could not have an alcoholic product with cannabis,” he said. “That’s what necessitated me to create a great tasting non-alcoholic beer. So that was definitely the first hurdle.”

Once Villa nailed the taste he wanted for a non-alcoholic beer, he set his sights on a different obstacle.

“After that, the biggest hurdle was getting people to taste our product because so many have read about cannabis or heard about it. And so many are just afraid of getting stoned. Well, our product is always going to be a lower dose so that people can trust it and not get stoned. They can get a mild buzz off, but they won’t get stoned.”

Photos courtesy Ceria Brewing

Finally, Dr. Villa explains the rich history behind his company’s name.

“Ceria is actually from the Roman goddess of fertility and agriculture. She’s in history, she is the goddess of agriculture, meeting hops and cannabis. Her name is Ceres. That’s where we get the names, cereal — like breakfast cereal. That’s where we get the name of Ceria.”

Boasting a medium-bodied taste and some notes of citrus and a smooth malty finish, Ceria can be purchased at select dispensaries throughout the state of Colorado. Villa shares in parting that Ceria plans on expanding to other states in the upcoming months as well as the development of new flavors.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Diabolical Craft Beer Sell Outs Ranked From Best To Worst

It’s often been said that it takes a momma brewery and a daddy brewery to make a baby brewery. Birds and bees aside, a good quality craft establishment is usually started by a brewer that gets experience a few places, then starts his/her own. Simple enough. It’s funny though, recent buyouts and partnerships with four California breweries have shifted the old paradigm.

Now it’s more like: momma brewery gets boob job, a passport, then flies to Europe to find a sugar daddy.

It’s been a rough summer for craft beer in California, where four buyouts/mergers from foreign-owned companies have made drinkers rethink supporting their favorite local brands. Of the four deals, some are more evil than others. Here’s a look at each, and appropriate level of evil, if brand loyalty is your thing.

Tony Magee at the CA Craft Beer Summit

Tony Magee at the CA Craft Beer Summit – @OCBeerBlog

LSS-Photo-12ozLagunitas – Heineken.  By far the biggest of the deals, Lagunitas is a fine lookin’ northern California native, born some 22 years ago. It didn’t take long for lil’ miss sumpin-sumpin to be the 6th largest craft brewery in the United States. Whereas other top-ten craft breweries eyed expansion on the central east coast, Lagunitas built their second brewery in Chicago. Shortly after completion came the announcement of a third brewery in Azusa, CA, then the news of a 50-50% partnership with Heineken International.

“We waited long enough and I got the value of the business so high that we only had to sell half of it. What could be better than that? The primary focus of the partnership with Heineken provides Lagunitas with liquidity to pay long-time investors, and to get beer into hard to reach global markets, where Heineken has a stronghold.” – Founder Tony Magee

Ask now or forever hold your peace? Nah. Lagunitas found the Dutch mega-brewer Heineken to be a worthy suitor. Giving up 50% stake in the brewery was all it took to get global distribution of its hoppy-sweet beers, get liquidity to pay long-time shareholders, and give employees some great bennies, and I don’t mean Benzedrine.

Evil rating: Pepe Le Pew. Although not that evil, the amorous skunk (Heineken) got half of a craft brewer. Giving up 50% to green bottle eurotrash-pilsner? There are some drawbacks. For one, Lagunitas revoked its street-cred badge. The Brewers Association, a national trade organization, defines craft beer as small, independent, and traditional. “Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.” By their definition, Lagunitas is no longer a craft brewer.

saint-archer-cans

With Heineken’s skunk spray still lingering in the air, Saint Archer Brewery in San Diego sold a majority stake to MillerCoors. Probably the worst kept secret ever, Saint Archer built itself from the ground up to be acquired. Brewed by talented brewers, their brand of high quality craft beer will now join the ranks of Blue Moon and Crispin Cider. Saint Archer’s generic can designs have always signaled a sort of “commodity beer” type of ethos; Blonde, IPA, White, etc will no doubt be strong brands outside of Southern California. I’m not sure San Diego ever forgave them for a social media snafu thanking the Dodgers for their long-time support. Many locals were over this deal as it happened. As they’re no longer a craft brewer, I am thankful for the sea of legit craft beer in San Diego. If their current brewers leave, the quality will indeed change for the worse.

Evil rating: Megatron. Like a true Decepticon, MillerCoors’ 10th and Blake division effectively transformed Blue Moon into the must-have Belgian white beer of the 2000’s. “Hey, look at this awesome new craft beer!” could be heard poolside around the globe, not knowing they were holding a genuine MillerCoor product. Saint Archer will be joining the Decepticons, no doubt causing authenticity confusion in the marketplace. (This deal could get a lot worse if AB Inbev purchases SAB Miller, an offer was made on 9/29/2015 for 106 billion dollars.)

meg

Resistance is Futile

Golden Road – Anheuser Busch InBev: In a deal that surprised key employees mid-flight to the Great American Beer Festival, the company posted a video announcing the deal with Birkenstock enthusiast Andy Goeler from Anheuser Busch. The awkward video aside, Meg broke the blade off with an interview she did with beernet.com. Quotes like “they’re investing in people, separate people and marketing and operations – which is me, right – to combat (true craft beer) this.” So she’s going to combat true craft beer that isn’t owned by a Brazilian beverage conglomerate? Gill continued, “the definition (of craft) should really be about “protecting the quality” so homebrewers “can’t brew a bunch of sh*t in their bathtub and call it craft.” For one, homebrewers don’t make beer in bathtubs, sh*t is brewed in toilets, and homebrewers don’t make craft beer, they make homebrew.

Evil Rating: Star Trek’s The Borg. It’s clear Meg Gill has been assimilated into the corporate beast. Resistance was futile for the Yale grad. Anheuser Busch can call itself “craft” all day long, but the things they do in the marketplace and distribution are bad for all beer. They aim to limit consumer choice, control price, and offer inferior beverages. One peek at the AB Super Bowl commercial where they dis craft beer as a whole is really all the proof one needs. How much is a Super Bowl ad? You mean they spent that much to say craft beer drinkers are hipster millennials and craft beer sucks, then buy craft breweries? I have a real hard time believing they’re in it for the “craft”, unless it’s “craft banking.”

walker Co Owner, David Walker. @OCBeerBlog

Firestone Walker – Duvel Moortgat: Firestone Walker has been on the cutting edge with quality, true innovation and being in the forefront of the craft beer community. Selling a stake in the company to Duvel was a private transaction between two families, and no details of majority stake were revealed. The Belgian brewery investment into Firestone Walker will help them expand operations and assist with their 150 years of experience into production planning. The key difference between this sale and others is Firestone Walker relies on the quality of their beer to sell itself.

Evil Rating: Box full of cute, cuddly kittens.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

These Beers Dominated Your Google Searches in 2014

Even though craft beer has been steadily on the rise for the past few years, most of the top 10 beers Americans Googled in 2014 were owned by two companies. Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors took the top nine spots with Sierra Nevada coming in 10th.

The increased availability of specialty drafts seems to have brought about a new interest in pretty basic beer brands, all of which are native to North America.

MillerCoors

miller-coors-beer-minnesota-government-shutdownjpg-ff240a6a24d22708

Brewing conglomerate MillerCoors won Google searches this year with five of its products being some of the most searched beers this year. Keystone, the relatively smaller sub-brand that’s typically overshadowed by its light counterpart, was ranked above Miller, Blue Moon, Coors, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.*

SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Company established the joint venture MillerCoors in 2007 to better compete against Anheuser-Busch and Sam Adams Brewing, the largest craft beer company in America.

According to Google’s data, MillerCoors seems to be successfully entering our hearts, minds and search histories. Last year’s most searched beers were predominantly under the Anheuser-Busch umbrella with mostly niche beers filling out the other spots.

Anheuser-Busch

MillerCoors shouldn’t feel too comfortable though considering that Budweiser and Corona claimed the top spots. Bud Light and Modelo snuck in toward the bottom of the list.

The intrigue surrounding the Budweiser brand and Grupo Modelo beers was mostly likely fueled by FIFA World Cup sponsorship and the Corona recall this year.

Sierra Nevada

sierra-nevada-pale-ale-02

As the only craft beer to (barely) make this list, the Chico, CA, based brewery is a solid representation of the gradual corporatization of local breweries. Trailing behind Sam Adams in the national market, Sierra Nevada challenges the notion that craft beer should be defined by quantity rather than quality.

Top 10 Googled Beers

*The Pabst Brewing Company is technically a standalone entity, but MillerCoors contract-brews Pabst Blue Ribbon.

 

Categories
News

‘Drizly’ Is Grubhub for Alcohol, MillerCoors Approves

Drizly, a mobile app that allows beer, wine and liquor to be delivered to businesses and residences, have opened up their platform to be tinkered with. Several notable companies have already signed on to help revolutionize alcohol e-commerce.

Basically, it just got easier to be an alcoholic.

As we enter the most football-drenched portion of winter, MillerCoors, the second largest brewery in America, is ready to use Drizly to quench fans’ thirst. MillerLite will be allowing viewers in New York City, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Boston to have 12- or 24-packs of fee-less beer delivered to them within the hour. The promotion ends after the Super Bowl or when the 20,000th delivery is made.

The whiskey-discovery app, Distiller, aims to become a full-service platform by adding Drizly’s delivery service. Available on Android and iOS, Distiller recommends and tracks the different whiskeys you try. Now select markets can have their preferences sent to them that day.

While Drizly sounds similar to monthly wine delivery services, those bottles are shipped via postal services. Drizly allows you to restock on alcohol in an hour or less without having to deal with the dangerous possibility of driving.

The catch is you can only use Drizly if you live or work in (the noticeably nicer areas of) these major cities, putting it in a curiously elite beta period, albeit the largest reach for an alcohol delivery app. Opening up their app to others, however, is definitely the first step in this delivery system becoming a legitimate national force on par with food apps like GrubHub.

Other companies scrambling to get in on the ground floor include social platforms Foursquare, Swarm and Inmoji.

Source: PR Newswire

Categories
Brand

MillerCoors Debuts Unexpected New Beer with 6.9% ABV and Notes of Bourbon

miller fortune coors beer

Looking to appeal to 20-something males, MillerCoors is rolling out a very ambitious new brew. Dubbed “Fortune,” their latest offering packs 6.9 percent ABV — almost a full percentage above Bud Light Platinum and Budweiser Black Crown and over 2 percent more than a standard PBR. Supposedly, Fortune features a malty, complex flavor with subtle notes of bourbon. Yes, bourbon in your MillerCoors beer.

Sounds ambitious? The brand takes it a step further by decking out their bottles with a jet black look, a playful Heads & Tails cap and a sleek Ace of Spades icon. A high ABV and notes of bourbon flavor? Check. Craft beer-esque packaging? Check. We see what you did there MillerCoors.

To top it off (yes, we went there), Miller Coors plans on asking bars and vendors to serve the beer in a rocks glass versus the standard pint glass. If you’re looking for this new stuff at a store, you’ll likely shell out $6.99 for a six-pack.

For those readers in Los Angeles, you have a chance to checkout Miller Fortune at its Los Angeles launch party happening this Friday, February 7th @ The Vault. Powered by Power 106 and DJ Felli Fel, the launch event is to include the first West Coast tasting of Miller Fortune, Custom Blackberry Fortune Cookies (see FOODBEAST Instagram), VIP Casino & Raffle, Power 106 Valentine’s Crush Ticket Giveaway, and of course Miller Burlesque Dancers and Fortune Girls.

The Vault Los Angeles

801 S. Hill St.

Los Angeles, CA 90014

9 PM – Close

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Miller64 Gets a Branding and Package Design Overhaul

MGD 64 was launched nationally by the MillerCoors company back in 2008, boasting a 64-calorie beer with a meager 2.8% alcohol volume and 2.4 grams of carbs per 12 ounces. Now in 2012, the MillerCoors has enlisted Chicago-based design firm Soulsight to rehash the brand, and the result is the new Miller64 logo and package design.

The new look spans bottles, cans, and the different packages that hold each. Branding changes include a bold new logo attached to smoky silver and red labels.

Soulsight‘s brief on the project notes that the design firm attempted to design a “handsome new identity, branding and package” that “demonstrates how Miller64 complements a balanced lifestyle for legal-drinking-age consumers who are committed to making good choices with their daily responsibilities and in their social lives.

Miller64, and its new look, is available at bars, restaurants and grocery stores nationally.