“I want people to think of lentil beer when they think of Saskatchewan. That’s the goal.”
In May of 2015, Mark Heise, Co-Owner and President of Regina’s Rebellion Brewery, had his brother Tyler, a merchandiser for the local powerhouse pulse-processor AGT Food and Ingredients ask him if he would consider experimenting with using lentils in his beer.
“I did some research and it didn’t look like anyone in the world had done it before, so there was really nothing to go off of,” recalls Heise. With no recipe to follow, Heise brewed a small 40 L batch on Rebellion’s test system, supplementing some of the beer’s barley with AGT’s King Red lentils.
“AGT guys came in, and we tested it all… and they thought it was great,” says Heise. Rebellion continued to brew the lentil beer, and AGT began to showcase their collaborative product at events.
It wasn’t before long that Heise realized that he may be on to something. “There seemed to be so much excitement about it [from the showcases],” tells Heise, “so we decided that there might actually be something here.”
After looking at the beers marketing potential and researching lentil production and growth in Saskatchewan, Heise quickly saw the merit in exploring this local and innovative product. Between AGT’s promotion of the product, features at local events in Regina such as the annual Pulse Week, and word-of-mouth, the Lentil Cream Ale became one of Rebellion’s four main beers. The brewery began brewing it full-scale in 2015.
Local Pulse Pride
In a city that has its own ‘We Love Pulses Day’, there’s no hiding Regina’s pride for pulses.
The Lentil Cream Ale began to flow, and so did a local interest in the beer. The lentil component of the beer became the common thread between different markets of beer drinkers- rural and urban.
“We started seeing groups of farmers coming into our brewery. And craft beer in downtown Regina isn’t typically a haven for the rural community,” says Heise. “But, you see [farmers] come in and say they want to try this lentil beer because they grow lentils. You start to just see - hey, people are making that connection on their own, and they’re really proud.”
Heise continues to have customers that have been involved in the pulse crop supply chain support the lentil beer. “You’re having those direct interactions with farmers and with scientists, and the grain haulers - they’re all part of that chain, and they want to come and try the beer too.”
“That to me is the benefit of local and the value of community.”
Today, Heise has found that customers can’t get enough of the Lentil Cream Ale. He gets frequent phone calls from rural communities needing to replenish their stock- “We literally can’t get it to them fast enough.”
The demand doesn’t stop with Saskatchewan. Rebellion gets weekly inquiries from people around the world wanting information on the beer and wanting supply shipments.
“We get inquiries from across the world,” tells Heise, “but we’re proud that we only sell in Saskatchewan. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to sell beer to other folks, but we are more proud to sell every drop here in Saskatchewan. It’s kind of that unique thing.”
”We brew this in Saskatchewan, for the people of Saskatchewan.”
Heise sees tons of potential to develop the local market, and enhance Regina’s current appreciation of lentils. Using pulse crops in a non-traditional way encourages people to think differently about the crop. “It’s really the whole idea why [AGT Foods and Rebellion] worked together in the first place- to get some more local products and local awareness.”
Looking at how quickly the city embraced a local, lentil beer- It’s safe to say that Regina’s lentil potential is going to continue to grow.
Learn how Regina is seizing the opportunity to be the center of plant-based food processing in Canada. We’re eager to support every part of the supply chain to help meet growing global needs, and help feed the world.