From Engineer to Cannabis Beer CEO

March 20, 2022 |by Jim Baudino | Comments Off on From Engineer to Cannabis Beer CEO | Blog | , , ,

March 20, 2022 by Jodi Villa, CEO of Ceria Brewing Company

It’s funny. When your kids are small they think you know everything. Then they become teenagers and they think you know nothing. Finally, as adults, you get a little bit of creditability back. That’s how it was with my now 28-year-old daughter, Catherine. It wasn’t until she taught me how to use a vape pen that I discovered she knew more than I did when it came to cannabis.

After I received my B.S. degree in Engineering from the University of Colorado (CU), I spent 30 plus years in the male-dominated engineering industry. There were many more men than women in my graduating class at CU and more men in the engineering world. I remember after one of my first professional meetings as an engineer, sometime in the late 1980’s, one male engineer came up to me, threw his business card in front of me, and asked if I could make copies of my notes for him. In addition, at one point during my tenure, I confronted my supervisor about getting paid the same as my male coworker, who held the same position as me. Yes, it was a man’s world.

So, after three decades as a Civil Engineer, I became the CEO of a cannabis beer company – Ceria Brewing Company. We sell alcohol-free beers infused with cannabis. This is a partnership with my husband, Keith Villa, who created Blue Moon beer, a billion-dollar craft beer brand launched in 1995 (when Catherine was just two years old).

Catherine graduated from the University of Colorado’s School of Engineering 30 years after I did with her Mechanical Engineering degree. After graduation, she decided that the cannabis industry might be interesting, so she came to work with her parents at Ceria. Now you may have heard of the father/son dynamic in beer: the father starts his brewery and builds a legacy, then passes the torch to his son. Or better yet, the father and son build their brewery together. Ceria’s legacy will be the father/mother/daughter dynamic.

The cannabis industry is male dominated, as is the brewing industry; but, truthfully, while CEO of Ceria I have not personally experienced the discrimination that I did as a woman engineer in the 1980’s. I have found the cannabis industry to be respectful and welcoming. This could be a result of the cannabis industry being a nascent category founded in a time where people are being made aware of their past discriminatory faults. Or, perhaps I’m fortunate and my experience and entry into the cannabis world are unique.

However, the recently released Women in Cannabis Study is an extensive report that details women in cannabis and their struggles, as well as some successes, as they break into and work within the industry. An interesting chart noted that women are not so concerned about being discriminated against nowadays as much as they are about finding “the right” position for themselves or fear of failure. While I personally have found the cannabis industry more accepting of women than the engineering world of the 1980’s, I do acknowledge that women, especially young women like Catherine, face various types of barriers to success working in cannabis. That is why support is so important.

I would not be where I am without the support of my family; and I’ve found that the broader cannabis community is available to lean on while navigating the ups and downs of these green waters. The good news is that there are plenty of ways for women to follow their passions, contribute their expertise and apply themselves to this exciting industry; and while it’s important to recognize the inequities in the cannabis (and brewing) industry, I’m optimistic. When I think about the future of this industry, I think about how the young, intelligent women of today, like Catherine, will be a force to be reckoned with as the industry grows and matures.


The Rising Popularity of Nonalcoholic Beverages

July 13, 2021 |by Jim Baudino | 0 Comments | Blog | , , , , ,

July 12, 2021 by BevZero

With recent trends of holistic wellness and fitness, many young people today are cutting back on their alcohol consumption. This isn’t to say that millennials aren’t consuming alcohol at all, but many people ages 25 to 40 are opting for non-alcoholic alternatives to wine, beer and cocktails. The nonalcoholic category is growing fast: according to Dieline, “millennials and Gen Zers are drinking less, while the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, worldwide, the rate of alcohol drinkers fell by nearly 5%. Nonalcoholic beer sales have also grown an average of 3.9% for the past five years.”


BevZero provides innovative solutions for non-alcoholic and cannabis-infused beverages through a process called de-alcoholization. De-alcoholization simply reduces or eliminates alcohol content in traditionally alcoholic beverages. Many brands today are using this process to lower the alcohol content and add in a different type of buzz. Malus, a THC infused cider, uses de-alcoholization before infusing cannabis in their product. 


“The food and beverage industry is all about bringing people together. We provide services that allow for an inclusive environment for everyone–whether you’re drinking or not,” said Debbie Novograd, CEO of BevZero. 


With the demand for alternatives to alcohol, the nonalcoholic beverage industry has made major strides in providing quality products in recent years. Over the last few years, nonalcoholic beer has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional beer, with increased options and more robust flavors.


THC infused beverages are currently a small segment of the cannabis industry, but are the fastest growing category, growing 40% year over year, according to recent Headset data. It’s no secret why–they are precisely dosed and are often low in sugar and calories. For those opting out of alcohol for health reasons, THC infused beverages may be an optimal alternative. These drinkables are also typically absorbed faster than edibles because they are consumed sublingually and digested faster in the stomach lining as opposed to the liver. 


Ready to try a new nonalcoholic beverage? Check out some of our favorite non-alcoholic and THC infused beverages below. 



Malus, the first brand from Harmony Craft Beverages, is a cannabis-infused cider that is perfect for summer. It’s a great option for craft beer and cider lovers–not too sweet, hoppy and full of flavor. The cider is sativa dominant, so its effects are happy, energetic and uplifting. Malus is low dose–one drink contains only 3mg of THC, which makes it perfect to bring along summer adventures. The resin, sour diesel, will leave you feeling energized and in a positive mood. 


Barrel Brothers Brewing

Barrel Brothers brews some really great non-alcoholic beer in addition to their traditional brews. They offer six nonalcoholic brews but a favorite is their Morello Barrel Aged Sour–a great option for sour-lovers. It’s a deep red-brown ale, and it’s base beer is aged for three years before being conditioned further on one pound of cherries per gallon. They then used BevZero’s de-alcoholization technology to pull the alcohol out. The sour is complex and rich with barrel characteristics–a true sour, minus the alcohol.


House of Saka  

If you’re looking to elevate your cannabis beverage experience, look no further than House of Saka. House of Saka is handcrafted from grapes grown in select Napa Valley vineyards, and uses the most advanced nano-emulsion technology available today. It breaks cannabis oil down to microscopic, water soluble and self-homogenizing particles, and is immediately absorbed for rapid onset. House of Saka is most comparable to wine and they have three products: pink, white and mimosa. 


Whatever your reason for cutting back on alcohol, there’s no reason to opt for a less than quality beverage to replace your 5 o’clock cocktail.