Why Making a Cannabis Beverage Made Sense for a Cidery

When Minnesota cannabis laws loosened up to allow for the production and sale of food and beverages, companies understandably scrambled to put products out there to capitalize on the burgeoning market.

You still can’t recreationally smoke it in Minnesota, but you can eat it and drink it without a prescription now. Not a month had passed after the law changed before Minneapolis Cider Company co-founder Jason Dayton’s newest product —Trail Magic — made its debut. 

Being the progeny of a cider company gave Trail Magic a few less hurdles to clear before its launch at its taprooom on July 29, 2022, just 19 days after the concept for the new brand was conceived. You have to make something that tastes good, is shelf stable and something that you can distribute — all things a cider company that had been in business seven years could theoretically do.

“We make tasty, fruity beverages,” Dayton said.

The Minneapolis cidery co-owner said they didn’t have a grand plan for getting into the cannabis beverage industry. Their first two products — the Berry Basil and the Hop Water — were already being developed prior to the cannabis line of drinks. The product line now includes an Arnold Palmer-style tea and lemonade and a canned margarita beverage.

“When the news articles started hitting in Minnesota, our company really began focusing on it,” he said. “I used to work in packaging in cannabis, so I had some connections and some understanding of how it worked. I knew about water solubles.

“Most cannabis beverage people come from cannabis into beverage. By the time it gets to us on the beverage side, we’re just adding the water soluble into our beverage product. We already had our beer distribution network in place.”

The quick start gave Trail Magic an advantage over its competitors. It was the only brand in wide scale distribution in Minnesota in August 2022, and stood alone as the only widespread option for two to three weeks. 

“It propelled Trail Magic with those who were looking for cannabis beverage options (right after the law passed),” Dayton said.

With the law being so new, questions remain about the cannabis industry in Minnesota. Legislation is in the works that could put more restrictions on breweries and cideries who are producing the beverages and make it harder for smaller companies to participate. The state has also said cannabis drinks are not on the approved list of products that can be sold in liquor stores, which is where one must buy beer, wine and cider outside of a bar or restaurant in Minnesota. 

“Some liquor stores are choosing to stock it, some aren’t, and enforcement is spotty,” Dayton said. “This is a story of consumer access in Minnesota —  you can buy it in a grocery store, but you can’t buy beer there.”

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