Mighty Axe Hops Says ‘Cheers’ to 5 Years of Minnesota Grown Hops
FOLEY -- Five years ago a couple of college students decided to start their own business growing hops for craft beer. Today "Mighty Axe Hops" has grown to be the largest hops farm between Michigan and Idaho.
This is their second growing season on their 80-acre farm just outside of Foley.
Co-owner Eric Sannerud says their farm is all self-contained.
Everything happens on site. We grow it, and we harvest it, we package it, and we ship it out to brewers all from the farm. So, come the end of August - early September - is when hop harvest happens in Minnesota.
Sannerud says after they had their first harvest last fall, most of their hops were bought by Twin cities breweries.
Right now most of our hops are going to Minnesota. Our 80 acres sounds like a lot of hops, but that's just three percent of the hops that Minnesota brewers use on an annual basis. So we're small even compared to Minnesota beer production. But our main customers are folks like Summit in their Lazy Sipper and Fair State in their IPA and Keep The North Cold beers.
Sannerud says they'd like to work with more central Minnesota brewers in the coming years.
Sannerud says the average hop farm size in the United States is 700 acres. Almost all of the hops grown in the U.S. are in the pacific northwest.
Sannerud says, if all goes well, they'd love to keep growing.
We are excited to expand and we are deciding now when exactly we could do that. And we're partnering with brewers to say, "hey, you want this variety grown in Minnesota we will grow it for you and we'll plant it for you, and it will all be custom for you.
Sannerud says there are hundreds of varieties of hops. They currently grow nine varieties on their farm.
Hops are perennial, so each year they do better and better. He says hops like dry springs that are warm, so our recent weather has been ideal for them.
If you'd like to see the farm for yourself they will be offering four public tours this summer. The first one is June 30th, and it is free and family-friendly.
The main ingredients used to make beer are hops, barley, yeast, and water.
Sannerud's business partner for Mighty Axe Hops is Ben Boo.