Photo credit Bend Bulletin Ryan Breneke

Photo credit Bend Bulletin Ryan Breneke

Bend Bulletin Dec. 6, 2020

A 5-year-old Bend cannabis company has found its magic number.

It’s 850, bottles of Magic Bubbly that is.

This small-batch cannabis-infused sparkling apple juice was founded upon the idea that everyone needed something to celebrate. It is expected to hit a few recreational dispensary store shelves this weekend , said Jon Tapper, Magic Number director of sales and marketing. Each store will get 10 bottles of the small-batch sparkling apple juice.

“It’s a perfect beverage for celebration,” Tapper said. “Ideally, it would be great to be saved for Christmas or New Years. We wanted to show people that that there are other ways to have a beverage without the negative effects of alcohol.”

Magic Number began in the garage of Alex Berger and Dan Pilver, company founders, and has grown to a northeast Bend brewing operation employing five people and selling 200,000 tinctures and beverages so far this year.

“We’re still owned by the original owners,” said Tapper. “We don’t have any venture money. We certainly would like to be in other states, but the demand for our product has exploded this year. We’re finally seeing that our business has legs.”

According to Headset, a cannabis analyst, there’s a growing demand among consumers for cannabis-infused beverages. Market share has nearly doubled from $1.5 million two years ago to $3 million, according to Headset. Consumers in states where recreational cannabis is legal have sought out wine-flavored beverages infused with cannabis, sodas and teas.

Recreational cannabis is now legal in Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Illinois, Michigan, Maine and Vermont. Just last month three more states have voted to make recreational use legal: Arizona, Montana and New Jersey. The upshot is that it is now projected to become a $38.1 billion industry over the next five years, according to New Frontier Data, a cannabis analytics company.

“Cannabis users who consume infused beverages are still in a minority,” said Molly McCann, New Frontier Data director of industry and analytics. “And for those who do consume them, infused beverages are rarely their favorite or most frequently consumed form of cannabis. However, infused beverages are growing in popularity, especially among younger users.”

At one of Substance’s three locations, Magic Number’s beverages outsell other brands, said owner Jeremy Kwit. Beverages are easy to dose and get into the bloodstream, he said.

“They make a consistent product, which is what the consumer wants,” Kwit said. “Consumers want something that’s new and innovative and that astounds them. Magic Number meets high standards sought after by craft cannabis connoisseurs.”

Tapper said the sparkling apple juice is probably a one-off to celebrate the fifth year anniversary of the company. Each bottle of Washington State apple juice is mixed with hibiscus and elderflower and infused with 50 mg of live cannabis resin. Grown in Southern Oregon, the cannabis is processed into a live resin emulsion that mixes with the sparkling apple juice with just a gentle shake.

The infusion process is similar to Magic Number’s other beverage products like soda, cold brew coffee and ginger beer, Tapper said. The key to a smooth taste in these beverages is the flash freezing of the cannabis when it’s in the flower form so that it retains its terpenes, which give cannabis its smell.

Magic Number began by selling ginger beer infused with cannabis and have expanded to include mandarin lime, cherry vanilla and cola, he said.

“When you give our products a little shake, it emulsifies,” Tapper said. “It allows for a smooth and silky distillation to spread the cannabis across the beverage.”

The company sells its products made in Bend in a used 60-barrel beer brewing system in about 300 recreational cannabis Eugene, Portland and Bend.

“We look like a brewery,” Tapper said. “We found a way to have high potency products you can consume without artificial flavors or preservatives.”

Not all the recreational markets allow cannabis-infused beverages, which is slowing the growth of this segment of the market, McCann said. Regardless, consumers are turning more to cannabis than alcohol, said Noah Tomares, New Frontier industry analyst.

Tapper agreed that not everyone wants to consume alcohol for relaxation or when socializing.

“We’re disrupting this market,” Tapper said. “People are looking to relax and alcohol isn’t always fun. So being able to engage in having a beverage and get a different kind of relaxation or stimulation is something people are seeking.”

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