Brewery, hops grower produce seasonal flavor

Published 8:42 am Monday, August 22, 2016

MANKATO, Minn. — It was Christmas for the babes in beerland as Mankato Brewery started making its Fresh Hopped IPA, dumping hundreds of pounds of green hops available just one time each year into the kettle of unfermented beer.

Mankato Brewery teamed up with Minnesota Hops Company in Madelia to use ingredients for the seasonal India pale ale that went from the grower to the brewery in less than an hour, Mankato Free Press reported.

“This only happens once a year,” said Mankato Brewery co-founder Tim Tupy, grinning. “And it’s so special because we have a hopyard that’s so close. For people who are into hops this will give it more of a fresh grassiness.”

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Brewers often use hops, the green pine-cone-like flower responsible for beer’s bitterness and aroma, that have been dried and processed instead of straight off the vine because of the small window of time fresh hops are available each year.

Minnesota Hops Company, however is so close to the brewery that the hops simmering in the vat were harvested less than 24 hours before.

“Growing hops is very labor intensive because they have to be harvested really fast, there is only a small window of time when they are ready, about 4 or 5 days. If it is dry and windy the hops can lose some of the oils that give it the taste and aroma” said Minnesota Hops Company founder Jeremy Munson. “We’re on our fourth year out here, this is our third harvest.

Breweries in Minneapolis, Victoria and Rochester all use hops from Munson’s farm, he said. He owns a harvester from Germany that pulls the vines of hops through machinery to pluck the flowers off the plant. The machine can clear as many as 180 vines per hour, perfect for the time crunch at the end of the growing season. Munson said he was one of the first hops growers in the state to get the machine. After the hops are pulled off the vine they are either used or dried.