cannabisnews.com: Hemp Ale is Smoking on The Rock





Hemp Ale is Smoking on The Rock
Posted by FoM on July 30, 1999 at 08:02:29 PT
Chris Flanagan, The (St. John's) Telegram 
Source: National Post Online
ST. JOHN'S - Two months after winning the battle to sell its controversial hemp ale in Newfoundland, Storm Brewing Ltd. has a much less inclement problem to weather: keeping up with a flurry of demand. 
Hemp Ale is selling at about double the rate of Storm Brewing's other brands, Killick, Kyle and Baccalieu Light ales, new company president and chief ale officer Michael McBride said from the brewery in the St. John's suburb of Mount Pearl. A third batch has been brewed and is about to hit store shelves, many of which had been cleaned out by thirsty hemp-seekers. "These five cases here are the last of the second batch, so it's going phenomenally well," Mr. McBride said, pointing to recycled liquor boxes, each packed with a dozen 640-millilitre bottles. Six months ago, phenomenal was the last word the brewery would have used to describe its new product. Nick Murray, who launched Newfoundland's first microbrewery in the tiny town of Freshwater, Conception Bay, in March 1996, describes the road to production as "shagged up." Mr. Murray decided to try a batch of his own hemp beer after watching it take off out west in early 1998. The British Columbia microbrewer Bowen Island Brewing received approval to sell Canada's first hemp ale in March, 1998. Soon after, the federal government approved the commercial growth of industrial hemp, a versatile, fibre-producing plant of the same species as marijuana but with only trace amounts of THC, the chemical that produces a high. Bowen's Hemp Cream Ale became its hottest brand. In late 1998, Mr. Murray told the Newfoundland Liquor Corp., the provincial regulator and distributor, he'd like to brew his hemp ale. "I got approval, they listed it and everything," Mr. Murray said. "I sold it to corner stores and was under impression everything was hunky dory with people from the liquor corporation." He even toasted his success with Liquor Corp. employees at their Christmas party on Friday, Dec. 11. The following Monday, however, he received a call from the Liquor Corp. telling him to stop production. As Mr. Murray tells it, Fraser Lush, the Liquor Corp. president, took a look at the brilliant marijuana leaf lookalike on the beer bottle and "came to the conclusion that this is cannabis." Mr. Lush was not available for comment this week. Mr. Murray was told he'd need approval from several governing bodies including Health Canada, the Newfoundland Liquor Corp. and even the police. He was also told to dump his next batch of hemp ale immediately. "I couldn't even give it away," he said. "I was not a happy camper after all that." It took six months to finally get approval, though Mr. Murray says there is in fact no legislation preventing him from marketing a hemp beer. "For all those months, all the information we were given was false," he said. A Health Canada licence is only required for derivatives of hemp, he said, adding hemp seed is only an ingredient of the beer. Hemp seeds represent less than 10% of the ingredients in the ale, Mr. Murray added. "The hemp seeds really mellow it out and give it a totally nutty flavour," he said. Once the brewery had all his federal approvals lined up, Mr. Lush and the Liquor Corp. executive decided to take another week to review the matter, Mr. Murray said. "It's just so typical of a government organization, where money is not an object," he said. "They have no concept of the fact that this is a very small business, trying to make a go of it." Looking around the tiny brewery, it is clear Mr. Murray and Mr. McBride have not been bankrolled by a major corporation. The barley grinder's mechanism is made from bicycle sprockets and a small electric motor; the stainless steel kettles and storage tanks were bought from a fish plant and a dairy; the bottle-washing equipment was made from copper tubing, rubber hose and empty beef buckets. All were put together by Mr. Murray, who describes himself on his business card as "Creator of Fine Ales and Hobbled Contraptions." The brewery's capacity is just 5,000 bottles (3,200 litres) per month, but if hemp ale stays on a roll, they may add a few cold storage tanks and increase output. But Mr. McBride is hedging his bets. "If in the fall it's still going well, then we'll know we've got a hit," he said. He is also not limiting Storm Brewing to beer. The company is using its spent brewers grain in an experiment to grow exotic oyster mushrooms and shitaki mushrooms, which it will eventually market if the process works. The mushroom-growing project, funded in part by the Industrial Research Assistance Program, is in the early stages, Mr. McBride said.Friday, July 30, 1999Copyright  Southam Inc. All rights reserved. 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on July 30, 1999 at 08:15:16 PT:
Hemp Ale is Smoking on The Rock
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Hemp Ale is Smoking on The Rock
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on July 30, 1999 at 08:10:51 PT
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