Minnesota hops farm prepares for large harvest

Published 8:14 am Monday, August 28, 2017

FOLEY — A hops farm in central Minnesota is preparing for its largest harvest to date.

The St. Cloud Times reports that Mighty Axe Hops will soon harvest its first batch of hops since moving to Foley a year ago.

The farm originally began five years ago at a location in Ham Lake but relocated to Foley for more space.

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“We’ve got 80 acres of trellis installed — 40 acres of hops planted, and the next 40 is what we’re doing now,” said CEO Eric Sannerud. “The harvest facility is nearly complete; it’s the finishing touches and final inspections at this point. From that perspective, it’s going pretty well.”

The harvest is expected to yield about 60,000 pounds of hops, Sannerud said. The four different varieties of hops will likely be harvested in late August or early September. Most of the hops in production are already contracted to several local breweries, Sannerud said.

“If there’s anything available after that, it’ll be first-come, first-served,” he said.

Hops are used in the beer brewing process to add bitterness, aroma and flavor. Certain varieties of hops can contribute specific flavors to beer such as citrus or herbal.

“People use ‘hoppy’ to mean a lot of things, but for us it’s about the aroma, the smell the hops create. It’s not so much about bittering,” Sannerud said. “We are really focused on growing all our hops for aroma quality. When someone says that a beer is ‘hoppy’, they probably just mean that the beer is bitter, which is not really the full story, because hops also contribute to flavor.”