Minnesota Hops Take a Giant Leap Forward

Thursday, July 11, 2019

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What exactly do Minnesota-grown hops taste like?

Beer lovers, gather round, we are in receipt of some of the biggest Minnesota-beer news of all time. First off, Minnesota's poised to break our all-time hops harvest this year, with 100,000 pounds coming out of Mighty Axe hops in Foley, just north of St. Cloud. That's more than before Prohibition, it's more than ever. But that's only the start of this story, because Mighty Axe founder, hops-champion, and CEO Eric Sannerud feels so strongly that the hops he's growing are unique in the world, in terms of their flavor and aromas, that he's rebranded them under new names. 

Now, to understand the idea, you have to accept the big wine-world concept of "terroir", that is, that the same thing grown in different places tastes different. French Sauvignon Blanc grapes  are flinty and fleet, but New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc grapes burst with tropical fruit fragrances and lemongrass. Oregon Pinot Noir is velvety and intense, Pinot Noir from France is called Burgundy, and can be crystalline. The reason people have made a big deal historically about, say, hops from a patch of Bavaria or Oregon is because of that idea of terroir, that the hops grown there have unique flavor characteristics based on the soil, sun, cultivation techniques, and weather that you can't get anywhere else. Now that we're a couple years in to the Minnesota hops revolution, we are finally getting a sense about what's special about here, says Sannerud, and we're ready to tell the world.

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