Minnesota-grown hops a budding industry

On land last harvested by his great grandparents, Eric Sannerud is bringing farming back to the family. This renewal of the family farm is due to Minnesota’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for craft beer.

Of the four main ingredients that make up beer, only one wasn’t being produced in large quantities in Minnesota: hops.

Sannerud, and his company, Mighty Axe Hops, first planted their vines two years ago when they were one of the only farms in the state producing hops, which typically take over a year to mature enough to produce the flowers brewers use.

“We had some farming experience on the team and we thought ‘hmm’ let’s try to grow hops,” Sannerud who is Mighty Axe’s CEO said.

Right now there are around 25 acres of hops across Minnesota and most of which have popped up in the last three years. Many local brewers couldn’t be happier the a priced beer ingredient is now being grown at home, and not needed to be shipped in from out of state or overseas.

“I would much rather buy from the guy across the street than somebody who lives across the country or world for that matter,” said Mike Hoops of Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis

Currently, for the budding industry, Minnesota hops still aren’t recognized as a crop by the department of agriculture and nearby states like Wisconsin and Iowa are growing far more, but that isn’t hurting enthusiasm.

“There isn’t enough being made in Minnesota currently to feed all the breweries. Maybe that will change,” said Hoops.

Mighty Axe is hoping to be part of that change. Their expectation is to double their yield next year, and double it again the year after.