Blue Moon Creator Keith Villa Invents First Cannabis-Infused Beer

keith villa ceria brewing

Only a few months after leaving MillerCoors where he invented the company’s wildly popular Blue Moon brand, Keith Villa launched Ceria Brewing Company to embark on new territory: cannabis-infused non-alcoholic craft beer.

A spin on Blue Moon’s Belgian-style white ale, Keith’s new beer, “Grainwave,” is a medium-bodied ale with blood orange peel and 5mg of THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis.

In this episode, Keith shares the goings on at Ceria Brewing Company, the variety of “sensations” his new line of craft beers have to offer, and his insights on the booming edibles industry.

Learn more at https://www.ceriabrewing.com

Key Takeaways:

  • Keith’s background in craft beer, his experience at MillerCoors, and how he came to launch Ceria Brewing Company
  • The process behind earning a PhD in Brewing
  • Why Keith decided to launch Ceria Beverages and create THC-infused beer
  • The ins and outs of infusing non-alcoholic craft beer with cannabis to ensure the THC is evenly emulsified and each bottle contains the proper dosage
  • Where Ceria is aiming to make its beers available in 2019
  • Keith’s goals to overcome the stigma surrounding cannabis
  • The THC doses within Ceria’s two beers and the different sensations they offer
  • Keith’s insights on the future of Ceria and the cannabis industry at large

 

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi. I'm Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh, new episode where I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly-evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at CannaInsider.com. That's C-A-N-N-AInsider.com. Now here's your program.

Matthew: With the stigma around cannabis falling away, one entrepreneur is seizing the opportunity to create a cannabis beer. I'm pleased to welcome Master Brewer Keith Villa to the show today. Keith, welcome to CannaInsider.

Keith: Well, thank you so much for having me on today. It's just my pleasure to be here and talk about what we're doing.

Matthew: Give us a sense of geography. Where are you sitting today?

Keith: Well, I'm in our offices, which are on our property, and sitting right here in Arvada, Colorado, which is a suburb of Denver. Not many people come out to Arvada, but it's just a really nice place to think about beer, brewing, and cannabis. The crazy part is that there was actually a moratorium on cannabis in my home town of Arvada, so we can't really sell any cannabis in this city. But our headquarters is here, and it's just a great little place to live and raise kids.

Matthew: That's right by Golden, right? Most people have heard of Golden.

Keith: Yes. I would say, if in your mind, if you could think of a triangle where you've got Denver, Boulder and Golden, that's the triangle, and Arvada would be almost in the middle.

Matthew: Okay. I am in Austin, Texas, today.

Keith: Then you're up a lot, especially for south by southwest, great place, great city.

Matthew: Yeah. A lot of California refugees here. Every day I'm meeting people that have decided to relocate from California to here for a lot of reasons, but interesting migration patterns going on.

Keith: Yeah, that is kind of interesting. But I don't blame them. Austin's a great town. California's a great state, awesome state, but, yeah, every time I go, it seems like the price of gas keeps going up and a lot of people moving in.

Matthew: Yeah. The price of gas here is under $2.00 today, so that's pretty impressive. For me, when I see that, that's pretty impressive.

Keith: Wow.

Matthew: But enough about Texas here. Tell us about your beer. What's the name of the beer?

Keith: Our first beer is called Ceria Grainwave Belgium-Style White Ale.

Matthew: Okay. What does Ceria mean? Is there any significance to that name?

Keith: Ceria is the name of our company.

Matthew: Ceria.

Keith: Ceria, it rhymes with area.

Matthew: Aria, okay.

Keith: Yeah, so if you would think of Area 51, then this is ... Ceria rhymes with area.

Matthew: Okay.

Keith: Ceria comes from the name of the Roman Goddess Ceres who was the goddess of the harvest, fertility, agriculture. The Romans looked up to her as this goddess who was responsible for great harvests of grain especially. Additionally, CERIA was the name of the ... It was an acronym and the name of the campus where I studied brewing in Belgium. That's where I got my PhD in brewing. Over there it stood for the Center for Teaching and Research in the Food Industries. On that campus they had the brewing school, the chocolate-making school, the culinary school, the hotel and restaurant management school, and all of those industries that are essential for the food world to exist.

Matthew: Okay. I want to dig in a little bit to your background here. It's not often I speak to a brewer, much less someone that has a PhD in brewing. Can you talk a little bit about what that was like in Belgium, and what the process is to get a PhD in brewing?

Keith: Oh, of course. Yeah. The process is pretty difficult. When you go to get a PhD in brewing, the first thing you realize is not a lot of schools offer a PhD in brewing. In fact, in the US you can go to the University of California Davis. But back when I got mine, which was ... Gosh, I was there from 1988 until 1992 ... really before the true onset of the craft beer revolution in the '90s. It was also before Belgium became well known for beer. But it was very difficult to find a school that had a brewing educational program. What I found quickly was that the most well respected programs were in Europe. There were two schools in Germany, one in the United Kingdom, one in Scandinavia, and four of them in Belgium.

Keith: What I did was chose the University of Brussels, the Flemish-speaking one, because they offered me the choice back then to do everything, actually, not everything but to defend my dissertation in English. Because at that time, they were really pushing English as the international scientific language, and so they were pushing all their own students to learn English and to do as much in English as possible. It worked out very, very, very well.

Keith: I was there. I wrote a dissertation, and I did all the research on specific enzymes and proteins in brewing yeast that were responsible for an off taste of butter. Butter and as beer is aging, it's freshly fermented and what you smell in fresh, green beer is a buttery aroma. The reason you age beer is to get rid of this buttery aroma. Through my research I found that you can do things to the yeast to minimize your aging time. But once I passed, we had a party. I had Trappist beers. I had all kinds of Belgium beers, and it was a great celebration and that.

Keith: Yeah, but it was very difficult. Then from my perspective having lived there and experienced that beer culture, I knew that someday that culture of beer and pairing beer with food and having small breweries in every town, I knew that someday that would come to the States. That really provided a lot of inspiration for me to get back to the States and start brewing.

Matthew: Wow. That's a fascinating background. We have some Belgium friends, and they are always pulling out interesting snacks from their bags and stuff like glazed waffles that they made themselves and these cookies that I've never had before. It's interesting. They have their own little unique culture for a lot of different things. Obviously, the chocolate, they're really well known for, too. But, yeah, it is. I think they have to explore with their culture because it's such a small area, a small place. But can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to create a cannabis beer, and what your day job was prior to starting Ceria?

Keith: Well, prior to started Ceria, I worked for MillerCoors, Molson Coors, Coors ... just the organization ... for 32 years. I started there, worked there for 32 years, and I retired. I actually had the opportunity to retire, really, with a great situation mainly because I had created Blue Moon Brewing Company as part of Coors, and it grew to become a very successful craft brewing company. To this day, it's the number one selling craft beer brand in the United States. Because of the success, I was able to retire last year. I was literally able to walk out the door with a full pension, health insurance for myself and my family. I was able to cashout all my stock. Literally, I could have walked out and just retired and relaxed and had fun the rest of life.

Keith: But the one thing that I had been researching the last four years on my own time is cannabis. Because I think I grew up in the same, I guess, state of affairs that everybody else did that as you're growing up in the United States, cannabis was something illegal. That notion of, I guess, it's a Reefer Madness was pounded into the heads of school children at least in Denver, but I'm imaging throughout the United States. Children grew up viewing cannabis as this terrible drug in the same league as heroin and all these other terrible drugs.

Keith: When you're a child and you're exposed to that, you believe it. What I found was that when cannabis started to become legal in the State of Colorado, I started hearing stories and reading stories of people using it and people actually benefiting from it. I'd read stories of returning veterans from the military who had PTSD, and they were using cannabis with a very successful rate of being cured or treating their PTSD. Then I was reading articles of people with cancer who were using cannabis to cut the pain that was caused by the cancer or to decrease the nausea that was due to the drugs that they were taking. I read about people with epilepsy who were going from several hundred seizures a day to zero or one or two seizures a day with cannabis.

Keith: I read enough to know that there was something going on there, something very significant. Then as I read more, I saw that, well, the reason that's happening with these stories but not in the scientific press was because this was an illegal drug at the federal level. Because of that, universities were not allowed to study this in depth. There was just a whole complete lack of information on cannabis. I kept digging down deeper and deeper and finding so many articles, most non-scientific but, nonetheless, articles that were showing that cannabis does something. I thought, "I am gonna start looking at this thing," because in 2014, that's when it became legal for recreational cannabis in the State of Colorado. I would start getting extracts and cannabis. I used them. I was trying them out, and I would talk to people. Really, there was something there, and I thought, "You know, this is not the plant that everybody was blaming for society's ills. This plant is actually useful."

Keith: There's a whole history of this plant being used by native cultures going back a long, long time. What I read was that the first people to really use it were in Asia. Over there, they were the ones who first started identifying that this plant could be helpful and used in many different ways, and it just spread throughout the world. I started experimenting, and I thought, "You know, this could be a really great replacement for alcohol in beer, because beer is one of the beverages that's been with Western civilization for thousands of years." I think any textbook of brewing will tell you that the first written history for beer was with the Sumerian culture, which was something like, I believe, 5,000 years ago, something like that. So beer has been with us for a long time.

Keith: The issue with beer and other alcoholic beverages is that alcohol, it's a high calorie food, if you will. It does cause problems when you drink it in excess, so liver issues. There are people who get addicted to it. A lot of different things happen with alcohol. In moderation the science says that it is healthy although lately, there have been some scientific articles saying that even one drink of alcohol is bad for you. There's still a lot of stuff coming in, a lot of science coming in saying that alcohol could be negative for your health even in moderation.

Keith: Whereas with cannabis, I wasn't able to find any conclusive scientific proof that cannabis has led to deaths of humans through ingesting it or through smoking it. Certainly a lot of cases of people who would feel sick because they took too much, but they recovered fully and got back to great health. Also, I read about cannabis being used to wean people off of drugs like opioids, people completely addicted to opioids, which doctors legally had prescribed and which cause a lot of deaths in the United States even up to this year. I found that cannabis could be used successfully to treat people who were addicted, and so I thought, "This can be a great, great way to introduce people to cannabis through beer."

Keith: I was able to retire this year, as I said, and my wife and I started Ceria. The first thing we did was lay down the brand architecture and the groundwork for Ceria. Part of that was the fact that we saw cannabis as something that should be for the people. That is, it should not be illegal. It should be available for everybody who needs to use it or who wants to use it. For us, cannabis became a like movement. On our labels you see in Latin it has the phrase, "Cannabis pro Omnibus," which means cannabis for the people. That's become our rallying cry, and beer is the vehicle that we've chosen to provide cannabis for all those people 21 and older who want to be exposed to cannabis and experiment with it safely and see that it really isn't something to be afraid of. It's something to add another level of enjoyment to your life. Well, this year, 2018 is when we started, and we did so much that it seems like that year of 2018 was, for us, it was about five to six years' worth of time crammed into one year.

Matthew: Oh, yeah. I can imagine lots in getting a company off the ground. For people that are listening and wondering like, "Hey, wait. Is cannabis like the active ingredient here? Or is it cannabis oil and alcohol together?" What's the answer there?

Keith: Well, the first thing we found was that cannabis and alcohol cannot coexist in a liquid legally in the United States. To clarify that statement, what I mean to say is that alcohol in the United States is overseen by the Tax and Trade Bureau or the TTB. The TTB is the governmental organization that really regulates alcohol, and they will not allow anything federally illegal to be put into an alcoholic beverage. At the state level, so in Colorado, we have the organization that oversees cannabis, and this is called the Colorado MED. That is the Marijuana Enforcement Division, and the MED does not allow alcohol to be put into any cannabis beverage.

Keith: To satisfy the feds and the state authorities, we have to remove the alcohol, so Ceria does not have any alcohol in it. It has only cannabis. The cannabis we use is an extract. We don't use varietals. Some people might say, "Well, is it Indica? Is it Sativa? Is it a hybrid?" We don't use any varietals of cannabis. What we do is we extract the THC and use only THC in our beer. This is mainly to get people experienced with THC and also to really just to start with that. In the future, of course, we can put any number of cannabinoids in there, whether it's CBD or CBG, anything. But right now THC, I think, is the one cannabinoid that a lot of people look at when they want to have, I guess, just a nice experience similar to drinking alcohol.

Matthew: Okay. How does the emulsification work so the THC is evenly distributed within the drink, and you're not getting it all in the first or last sip?

Keith: Yeah, that's very critical. There are two ways you can do that. One is to make a water-soluble extract. The other way is to make an extract with the right emulsifier to get it in solution, in suspension, so it stays there and doesn't come out. Those two ways work perfectly for the different beers we make. For our Grainwave, which is on the shelves right now in Colorado, it's an unfiltered, Belgium-styled wheat beer, so when you pour it into a glass it has a really nice haze in it, and everything looks good. It smells like a beer. But what we do is, for that one, we use an emulsified THC oil. We can't say exactly the emulsifiers we use because that's proprietary, but we do use emulsifiers to get it in suspension, in solution, and it does not come out. It does provide a little bit of haziness, and so that works perfectly in our unfiltered beer because it is a hazy beer.

Keith: The other thing is that the extraction process pulls away the smell and the taste of cannabis, so what we do is focus on the smell and taste of the beer with the effects of THC inside the beer.

Matthew: Okay. All right. You mentioned that the beer is available in Colorado. That's the starting geography and then there's gonna be other states? Or, how is that gonna work?

Keith: Correct. It's in Colorado. We started, we were on-shelf, I think it was the third week in December. We sold-out the very first day. It was the Friday before Christmas. We went into 16 stores. We had a launch partner, a dispensary chain here in Colorado who agreed to be our launch partner for our brand. I'm not sure if we could name them on the air.

Matthew: Yeah, please.

Keith: Oh, The Green Solution, yeah. They've been fantastic to work with. Of course, there are other chains and other independent dispensaries throughout Colorado that are also really, really great. But we decided to focus the launch with The Green Solution, and we sold out the first day. We were very happy. It's just great to go see our products in the dispensaries and then just wait 24 hours and see them gone. We know that we've got a product that people like. We've heard numerous accounts from people saying they love the taste. They think it tastes like a beer, a great beer. They said they could not smell cannabis or taste cannabis, but they felt the effects. For us, that's exactly what we were looking for.

Matthew: Now, how do you arrive at the proper dosage per bottles, and what does the bottle look like?

Keith: Well, at this point in time, we're using an aluminum bottle, so it's in aluminum. That's mainly because the state has had a rule in place that you should not be able to see the liquid inside the package. What we decided to do was use an aluminum bottle to make sure that it was completely obscured from the customer's sight to satisfy that rule. It is a 10-ounce serving, and it has five milligrams. The way we got at five milligrams was in Colorado the standard serving size is 10 milligrams per serving, 10 milligrams of THC. The state really doesn't have a lot of regulations on the other cannabinoids. They have only regulations on THC since that is the main psychoactive in cannabis, so the regulations really revolve around THC. The standard serving is 10 milligrams per serving of whatever you have, chocolate or liquids.

Keith: We decided to start with five so that people could enjoy two if they want a standard serving. They could enjoy three or four if they want a little more than a standard serving and still be able to function without being completely stoned. Because from our perspective, we want to introduce this product to people who maybe have never had cannabis before or people who had a bad experience. Because the thing we saw over the course of the last four years is that a lot of budtenders in dispensaries, I think, their goal is to help the customers who come in. But what we've seen is that a lot of budtenders try to sell as much THC per dollar as possible to people who walk in. From our perspective we're thinking, "Yes, that is the case for a lot of experienced users, because they want as much THC per dollar spent as possible, because they want to experience the THC. But we started thinking that that's not what the soccer moms and the average Joe down the street who hasn't had cannabis, they don't want as much THC per dollar spent. They want to ease into it.

Keith: Yeah. We thought that the best way to do that is to offer beers that have low dose, micro-doses of THC to allow people to ease into it. Then as they become more experienced, then they can buy high THC strains and experiment with edibles, smokeables. Then who knows? If they really want to get into it, they can buy a dab rig and then start dabbing if they want. It's totally legal, nothing wrong with it. But that's for those heavy, experienced users. But from our perspective, the heavy, experienced users really aren't our audience. Our audience is that person who has never used it and who might be afraid of it but doesn't know where to start.

Matthew: Yeah. It's a great on-ramp for new cannabis users, because a lot of the stigma is around when they smell or have to light something. Those two things are just big stigmas still despite over 30 states having some sort of cannabis legalization. Lighting and scent or odor is a big thing, so that's great. Also, people that just love beer, this is a great on-ramp for them, so I see that as a big win.

Matthew: But one of the difficulties I see is most people listening that are of drinking age would know what one can of Budweiser will do to them. But it's hard to have that kind of universal kind of measurement where you could say to a friend like, "Oh, if you drink this cannabis drink, you're gonna feel pretty much like x." It's hard to pass that along because seem to experience it differently, onsets differently, liver metabolization is different. But, I guess that's true for alcohol in general, but I think we're kind of missing ... 10 milligrams, like you mentioned, is a good kind of good international standard or maybe five. Some people say a rookie cookie, five milligrams is good. But I think we're missing kind of that universal benchmark that could help people know where they'll be at after they consume something. It's a hard thing to do because it's very subjective, but we need something.

Keith: Right. You're absolutely right, because everybody is different. At least with alcohol there's been so much research that people kind of know what a standard drink is. They know that if they have a light beer, they can have a couple and feel practically nothing, whereas if they have an Imperial IPA craft beer, they know they're probably gonna get buzzed. If they have a couple of shots of whiskey, they know they're gonna definitely get buzzed. People have these guide rails with alcohol.

Keith: With cannabis, you're absolutely right. It's a different story for those people who have not used it before, and everybody's different. The fact that the THC has there are binding sites in the body, and those binding sites that accept THC to give you that nice high feeling, they are affected by different things. That is the terpenes, that is those nice aromatic compounds that are in cannabis or in beer or in lemon juice, fruit juices. Those nice aromas that you smell are terpenes, and those actually have an effect on the cannabinoids that you take into your body, so there's a compounding effect.

Keith: Since everybody's different, somebody may take five milligrams, and they may feel really, really woozy. Whereas somebody else may take five and say, "I don't feel anything," and so you're right. That's the way we are as human beings. But in general, what we can say is that with five milligrams the first thing is that our extracts, whether it's our water-soluble extracts or other extracts, those take effect within 10 to 20 minutes, so you'll feel it after you take it.

Matthew: Did you feel a little bit like Santa Claus on that day of the launch? Where you're thinking like, "There's all these people that are enjoying this beer that I created."

Keith: A little bit. Yeah. Because it was so much fun because it's low-dose. To me, getting people to try it, that's a huge hurdle. But to try it in a way that's socially acceptable, that was one of our big goals, to make sure that this is socially acceptable. If you wanted to smoke it, I see you could do that, but smoking is being frowned upon more and more in our society whereas beer drinking or drinking of alcohol, that's something that's very socially acceptable. To put cannabis into a socially acceptable format, for us, that was great. It just was a great feeling to see it sold out and to just imagine people using it as stocking stuffers and whatnot, because it's just a great feeling because people are getting their first tastes of cannabis.

Keith: The other thing is that by having a beer format, we're driving a lot of new traffic, foot traffic, into dispensaries. For people to buy our beer, they can't go to a liquor store. They've got to get into a dispensary. What we're very proud of is that our beer is actually bringing people who have never been into a dispensary right through the front door for the first time, and they're seeing that dispensaries are not these dark, scary places that many people imagine. Dispensaries now are, the majority of them, are well lit, well stocked. It's almost like going into a nice ...

Matthew: I say it's like going into Pottery Barn.

Keith: Exactly. Yes. To get people who have never been in to a dispensary to actually walk in to buy our beer, it's a great feeling because then they see that these places, that they're not scary. You go, you purchase the beer and do the transaction. You show your ID, of course, but it's no different than going into Walgreens and buying a six-pack of Bud or Coors. But in this case, people see that there are other products, and so if they buy our beer. Our hope is that they'll come back for more. But at the same time, something should trigger in their mind to say, "You know, I think I might want to try those chocolates or those jelly gummy bears. Or, I might want to pickup a pre-rolled joint or a vape pen." Have people just come in and see that it's not talking to an illegal drug dealer in a dark alley. It's legitimate, and our beer is helping to legitimize that and helping to remove that stigma.

Keith: To me, that was the best feeling ever is that here we are at the forefront of actually getting people to try cannabis, getting them into dispensaries, and helping to remove the stigma that still surrounds cannabis.

Matthew: Sure. Okay. The Belgium White Beer has five milligrams per serving. The IPA's 10 milligrams. Moving on to, now there's a company in Canada called Province Brands. We've had Dooma Wendschuh, the founder or co-founder, on the show. He is making a cannabis brewed beer. Can you talk about the difference between what you're doing and what they're doing just so it's clear in people's minds?

Keith: Oh, of course, yeah. Yeah, and we've met Dooma a couple of times. He's a very nice guy, very smart. He's got Province Brands up in Canada. His goal is to make a beer entirely from the cannabis plant with no malt, no hops, but something entirely from the plant. Our goal at Ceria is to make beers using malts, hops, water, and spices if we want and then remove the alcohol and replace it with cannabis extracts. Ours really is the beer in the traditional sense, whereas Dooma's is beer in a new sense that is made entirely from the cannabis plant.

Keith: I remember talking to him years ago when he first brought up that idea. I was one of the doubters. I still doubt it, but until I taste his product ... as a brewer who's classically trained and I have a PhD ... I don't see how you could make a beer taste like a beer in the consumer's sense with just cannabis. It might be possible, but I would not know how to do it. He claims to have done it. He says he will launch it when edibles and drinkables become legal in Canada this October. Until then, he's partnering with one or two other breweries to make beers with cannabis extracts.

Keith: Yeah, so our beer is different than his in the fact that ours is a traditional beer with the alcohol removed and replaced with cannabis. His is made entirely from the cannabis plant. I remember saying to him that I would think it would taste more like a tea or something like that versus a traditional beer. But he claims to have made a beer that tastes like a traditional beer, and it'll be out in October. But next time I go to Canada, I'm gonna have to get up there and taste it and see what he's done.

Matthew: Yeah, yeah. Let us know. What has been the reaction from customers that have tried your beer then? What do they say about Ceria?

Keith: I think the first thing is that people are expecting a taste of cannabis. When they taste it, the one thing we always hear is, "Wow, that tastes like beer." Then people say, "That tastes really good." I think those people who know my history of being the founder of Blue Moon Brewing Company and that taste that Blue Moon has, I decided to launch a Belgium White for a cannabis beer because I know that style and I love that style. But our Belgium White at Ceria is different than the Blue Moon Belgium White because ours is a little more organge-y and a little more citrus-y, but still a beer. I think people taste that and they say, "Wow, that tastes like beer and that tastes good." People drink it. I think just that, to me, I call it the wow factor. When I hear that and people say, "Wow, that's really good," that, to me, is just music to my ears, because that means we've accomplished our goal. We've made a beer that tastes like beer but has the effects of cannabis, and that's exactly what we wanted to do.

Matthew: I know it's still a small, initial launch, but have you noticed any kind of trends in terms of who's experimenting with it first out of the gate? Women, men, young, old? That's all subjective but ... what old is. Anything you can tell us there?

Keith: Yes, it's too soon, because we still have to get out to the dispensaries and do some tastings and talk to the salespeople, the budtenders, the management of the dispensaries, and actually ask those questions. Because, yeah, they're the ones who are on the front lines with customers every day. They're the ones who will be able to tell us firsthand who is buying our beer.

Keith: Yes, there are some great data companies like Headset and BDS Analytics that can kind of tell us numbers, removal numbers, but in general they cannot tell us who is buying it. Is it a 21-year-old's first purchase? Is it a mom and dad who came in here? Is it a soccer mom? That's what I want to hear is who actually came in and purchased this? Because to me, that will tell me who is interested in these products. As we develop more products, it'll help guide us to make even better products. Because if it is the craft beer drinker who's purchasing our beer, then that tells me right away, "Hey, our next product could be our double IPA." Or, if it's a lot of soccer moms drinking it, that's like, "Okay. Maybe we want a beer that's a lighter beer that doesn't have too much flavor but that's very refreshing." Yeah, it'll help guide us.

Matthew: Could you give us a sense of price for a bottle of beer? Or, are they sold in four-packs? Or, how does that work?

Keith: We have individual bottles and four-packs. A bottle is retailing for $7.95. The price point is always difficult, because you offer a new product out there that is really something completely new. You just don't know where to price it to be a decent value to people but also something that tells people, "This is a nice thing to enjoy. It's not a real cheap thing." Yeah, the price point is always something very difficult to establish.

Keith: Ours is $7.95 a bottle. We felt that's a really nice price point for our first off beer. Because if you look at the world of craft beers and you go to a bar and buy a glass of craft beer, it's gonna be about $6.00 or $7.00 or $8.00 depending on what type it is. We thought, "Well, $7.95 is right in that range. It's a good price point." We think people should be able to have enough money in their pocket to buy one and try it. If they like it, they can come back and buy a four-pack.

Matthew: Okay. That makes sense. Keith, where are you in the investing process with Ceria?

Keith: For us, we are closing our first seed round of investing, so we're very happy. We've got people who actually believed in us and put money up to help us get this company off the country and get started. Yeah, so we're exactly where we want to be right now. We may open up another round next year. Or sorry, this year, 2019. But we'll wait and see because our goal is, again, to really to offer great tasting beers with the effects of cannabis and to remove that stigma that's around cannabis right now.

Keith: Our goal isn't to be this massive producer of stuff. We have very modest goals right now, and we're all about beer. We love beer. It's just beer for us. We're a pure beer player. We don't have vape pens. We don't have other edibles, other drinkables. At this point it's just beer because we know beer, we love beer, and that's where we are. From an investment standpoint, we raised the money we wanted. We have our plans in place for this year and next. We're doing everything that we've said we would do. In 2018, we said we would form our company. We would produce a product with the right logo and have it one the shelf by the end of the year, and so we certainly did that. Yeah, we'll just keep working really hard to get our products out there and to change people's images of what cannabis can be.

Matthew: For accredited investors that might be listening that are interested if you do another round of capital raising, is there a list or something they can get on or anything like that?

Keith: Yeah. If they go to our website ... I think it's CeriaBrewing.com ... or just Google Ceria, and they'll see our home website. Down at the bottom they'll see the little buttons to push if they want to learn more about investing in Ceria. Of course, yeah, well, hopefully we'll never turn away money. But it's a small company. You need money to grow and to keep going and to make high quality products. But, again, one thing we have in our advantage is that we have a lot of years of experience. Myself as brewmaster with 32 years of brewing experience, having created the biggest craft beer brand in the world, having a PhD in brewing.

Keith: Then our branding company is out of California. They're the ones who helped us to build the architecture of our brand. That company, it's called Trinity Branding Group. They're one of the most respected branding companies around. If you've seen all the work for Corona, Corona Light, Modelo, all those beers, Trinity had a hand in that. They're very skilled at what they do in building brands. We think they've done a fantastic job with our brand, the whole brand architecture. Of course, we have Chief Marketing Officer, Doug Christoph, who really has done a fantastic job working with Trinity to deliver the look and feel of our brand.

Keith: Then we've got just a lot of expertise on our team that comes together to make Ceria what it is today. We're very happy with where we are, with the amount of funding we have, and we really look forward to getting out there and changing people's perceptions of what cannabis can be.

Matthew: If anybody's curious about the spelling, it's C-E-R-I-ABrewing.com. C-E-R-I-ABrewing.com. Keith, I want to turn to some personal development questions. Is there a book that has had a big impact on your life or way of thinking or career that you'd like to share?

Keith: Gosh, well, I'm an avid reader. I love to read as many books as possible, especially success stories from people who started with nothing or people who were not well regarded and ended up changing the world. People like Steve Jobs. I love reading about those stories. But the book that, I guess, use on a daily basis that really helps is A Textbook of Brewing by Jean De Clerck. He was a famous brewer in Belgium, and he wrote an early textbook that really talks to the art of brewing and the science but in a way that is different than today's textbooks of brewing.

Keith: Today's textbooks are very scientific and very focused on the facts. Jean De Clerck talked a lot about the art of brewing and the science. To me, that really is what we're all about is combining art and science. Because when it comes to cannabis and beer, obviously, Jean De Clerck did not think back then of putting cannabis in beer. But he went so far as to talk about putting fruit in beer or spices in beer. He talked about it in a way that made sense. It's like as a scientist you look and you say, "If I were to put fruit in beer, that's fantastic, but where do I start?" He gave these clues on how to start with things you don't know could go in beer. It's just a really great book that I've found helpful over the years. It's been out of publication for a long time, but it's just a very valuable book, at least in my perspective.

Matthew: Is there a tool that you use day-to-day that you find valuable to your productivity that you'd like to share with listeners?

Keith: Oh, gosh. I use a lot of different tools, whether real tools or apps or what have you, and I use them every day. But the one that I always go back to is one that I call it my brewing calculation spreadsheet. Over the last 32 years of being a brewer, I've collected and put together a lot of different calculations for use in the beer world, so things like calculating the alcohol content, the color or the beer, the IBUs, the bitterness of the beer, the body of the beer, the calories, everything like that. That's the one tool that I use on a daily basis. It's not written in stone because what I do is if I see a new calculation or a better calculation other than I've been using, I add it to my spreadsheet. It's a living tool, a living document that I keep with me on a daily basis. That's the thing I use every day.

Matthew: Wow. I could see where that would be very helpful. I'd like to ask a Peter Thiel question as the final personal development question. What important truth do very few people agree with you on?

Keith: I think, to me, the one truth that not a lot of people agree with me on is that in the world of craft beer, there's a common perception that small equals high quality. It is something that I think is just ingrained in craft beer drinkers. So many of them think that the smaller the brewery, the higher the quality. Over the years, I've come to see that that is the case sometimes, but it's not a truth. There are a lot of small craft brewers out there who maybe last year they were a banker and this year they're a brewer, and they don't make very good beer. It's hard to convince people because they'll go and they'll have beers and they'll say, "Oh, man, that is an awesome IPA that that brewery's making." You taste it, and then you want to explain to them why this beer has faults and what can be done to make it better.

Keith: But it's a truth that so many people just believe steadfastly in and, really, to me, it's also applicable to the cannabis world. Because there are some small cannabis producers out there who are fantastic. There are others who make product that is kind of mediocre. But to me, it's all about quality, and it's all about the way that a company, whether it's cannabis or a brewery, the way that they approach making beers or cannabis products. It has to be infused with quality all the way from obtaining the raw materials to packaging the final product. Once you've got this mentality that's focused on quality, then you know the product is gonna be really good.

Keith: Again, whether it's beer, whether it's cannabis, and small does not necessarily equal high quality. That's that truth that I see it just everywhere. Most people think, "Oh, this is a little mom-and-pop shop, then it's got to be really good." In the case of Ceria, it is good. But, yeah, but in the case of a lot of little breweries, it's really, you have to train yourself to say, "Well, let me taste it first. Let me see it. Let me smell it." Then you walk away with your perception of this is a high quality, great product.

Matthew: Your beer is good not because it's a small batch, but because you made it the right way?

Keith: Exactly. The way that we go about making beer and the extracts we put in, everything about our beer, it's the highest quality. Whether it's selecting the malts and the hops and the spices, whether it's removing the alcohol using the latest technologies, whether it's preparing the cannabis extracts and putting those in, everything has to be done with the highest quality mindset that you can possibly have. The end result is a product that's gonna be great. When you put every aspect of quality into it, there's very little risk that it's not gonna be great.

Matthew: Okay. Well, Keith, this was a really compelling interview. I feel like I learned a lot, not just about cannabis beer, but beer in general. It's just a fascinating art form. Really, there's a lot of history and tradition into it that make up our culture, so thanks for that. As we close, can you let listeners and also accredited investors know how to reach out and find more about Ceria Brewing and where they find you and where to find you in dispensaries and so forth?

Keith: Oh, yeah. Just look up our website, CeriaBrewing.com. On there you'll see how to contact us. You'll see a locator on where our products are available. Right now they're only available in Colorado. But this year, 2019, we will expand to California and Nevada and then after that to every state where it's legal. You'll see investor information. You'll see the latest news stories about Ceria. Yeah, that's how to contact us if you want to learn more about our beers. We're beer-only right now, but we're very focused on removing that stigma that surrounds cannabis and on bringing new people into the world of cannabis and into their friendly dispensaries that are in their towns.

Matthew: Well, Keith, well done making this beer. Congratulations and good luck for the rest of 2019 and also a great job making Blue Moon Beer. I enjoyed many of the beers that you created and your blends and so forth. That was a real grand slam. I hope Ceria is big as Blue Moon. Good luck to you, and let us know how it goes.

Keith: Well, thank you, Matthew. Yeah. I hope to come back on your show in a year's time and report back that we're doing fantastic and that we're all over the US. Who knows? We may even be up in Canada by this time next year.

Matthew: Yes. All right. Good luck. Happy New Year.

Keith: Happy New Year to you, too. Thank you very much.

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