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We’re going to look at our first patent on fermented cannabis beverages, aka, cannabis beer! The world patent application is filed under WO2019010576A1, with each regional filing in progress (Canada, US, etc.). The patent application is owned by the private company Province Brands. The choice to patent a beverage formula is interesting since the patenting process requires you to outline the formula and process for making the beverage. While the patent offers protections for the outlined formula, it also offers competitors the opportunity to try and change your formula in a way that produces a similar beverage without infringing on the patent. The Coca Cola formula has famously been kept a trade secret for over 100 years to prevent replication.
Starting with the longest abstract to date:
“A fermented beverage is described together with a method for its production from one or more component of a cannabis plant. The beverage comprises carbohydrates derived from hydrolysis of cellulose and/or hemicellulose from cannabis, as a fermentation substrate. The beverage may contain alcohol or may be non-alcoholic. Active phytocannabinoid compounds may be present, preferably in the non-alcoholic beverages. The method includes the steps of: (a) obtaining a cellulose-rich pulp from the one or more components of the cannabis plant, from which lignin and/or hemicellulose has been released (through any number of multiple prehydrolysis steps); (b) degrading the cellulose-rich pulp into carbohydrates (saccharification step) with enzymatic hydrolysis by one or more cellulose-degrading and/or hemicellulose-degrading enzymes, and/or with acid hydrolysis to form carbohydrates; (c) preparing a wort from the carbohydrates with (or if desired without) sufficient yeast nutritional requirements and flavoring from portions of the cannabis plant; and (d) fermenting the wort to form the fermented beverage. (e) Optionally performing steps to finish the beer including but not limited to aging, alcohol removal, formulation and flavoring by addition of phytocannabinoids and/or terpenes, xylooligimers, and/or cannabis extracts and/or cannabis oils with or without accelerants (to accelearate the onset of the bioactive effect) and/or deccelerants (to shorten the duration of the bioactive effect) as desired. The optional removal of alcohol may be conducted by reverse osmosis or other process. Phytocannabinoids or flavorings may be introduced as desired.”
There are many steps described in this patent that are common in brewing. The novel differentiation this patent is outlining seems to be the use of cannabis as input material and having cannabinoids + flavonoids in the resulting beverage. The patent would cover a range of alcohol contents, from 0-15%, and total cannabinoid content of 0.15 mg/L – 71.4 mg/L. The patent doesn’t seem to have any unique methodology that hasn’t already been used in making beer out of different plants, aside from the choice to use cannabis.
In summery, the patent application appears to identify cannabis, and its components, as the novel aspect of the invention to make cannabis beer. It will be interesting to see if using cannabis to make beer is a novel enough invention for this patent to be granted when its close cousin hops has been used to make beer for a long time.