Mighty Axe Hops Hub is growing, signaling a bright future for locally grown hops in Minnesota.
University of Minnesota graduate Eric Sannerud began his journey to hops during college when he connected with future Mighty Axe Hops Hub partners Ben Boo and Brian Krohn. From there he began a vegetable CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) on his family’s farm in Ham Lake, MN. The partners then decided to combine Boo’s horticulture background, Krohn’s financial and land use expertise, and their mutual love of craft beer into a ‘mighty’ hopyard.
Quickly after pooling their knowledge they began creating Mighty Axe Hops Hub — a local hopyard in Ham Lake. They met with a handful of growers in their area, visited hop farms, and researched online from sources like the Vermont Extension Program. Once equipped with a business plan they began to establish their hopyard. “You need a lot equipment to install a [hop]yard — Poles, wires, anchors, mulch, plants, twine…” Sannerud recalls, “For recent graduates with school debts and without real jobs, funding the infrastructure has been the most challenging part.”
Those challenges quickly paid off as countless Cascade hop vines took off. Disease resistant and Minnesotan-tough when it comes to winter, Cascade hops are proving themselves to be a great multi-purpose American hop that Mighty Axe Hops customers want. They are getting so popular with the local breweries like Fulton, Bad Weather, and Burning Brothers, that Mighty Axe is expanding their yard from a quarter acre to 8 acres in the very near future and are making their hops available to homebrewers this summer. Not only will they keep up their quality during the expansion, they will also begin diversifying their hop varieties, most likely adding an American hop and a Noble hybrid.
Mighty Axe Hops Hub has high hopes for 2014, from producing 200 lbs of whole cone Cascade hops this season to starting a Minnesota Hops Cooperative. To kick off their big year, they are excited to announce their first craft beer release, the Mighty Axe IPA, at Sociable Cider Werks on January 31st. Their collaboration with Niko Tonks, head brewer at Fair State Brewing Cooperative, will show off the consistency and quality of the hops that Mighty Axe Hops Hub can produce.