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Eleven years ago, Minneapolis' Town Hall Brewery would get fresh hops shipped to them overnight from the Pacific Northwest, where most of the nation's hops are produced.
The brewery used it for their Fresh Hop 100 beer, and they were using fresh hops for a drink at a time when no one else in Minnesota was doing so, brewmaster Mike Hoops said.
But now that Minnesota has a lot more hop growers, the brewery gets its hops locally – this year from Straight River Hops near Owatonna, now that it's harvest season.
Hoops went out to the farm at the end of August to pick up the hops hours after they were plucked off the bine (yes, that's what they grow on) to ensure they'd be fresh for the beer. He explains the process in the video above.
Using fresh hops makes the beer have a brighter, more alive taste, with the flavor and characters from the hops more pronounced, Hoops explains.
Town Hall brewed its Fresh Hop 100 on Aug. 26, and it's expected to be ready in the next week and a half or so, Hoops says. It'll also be available at Town Hall's Fresh Hop Fest in October (read more about this here).
Minnesota has more fresh hop beers
Thanks to the increase in local hop growers in recent years, more Minnesota breweries are making beer with fresh hops in the fall (instead of dry hops or dry hop pellets that are used in most breweries year-round).
Eric Sannerud of Mighty Axe Hops in Ham Lake told BringMeTheNews they've been contacted by more breweries looking for fresh hops than they could provide – and the good news is Mighty Axe Hops is expanding which will help them meet demand in the future.
Mighty Axe Hops has also teamed up with some breweries – Fair State Brewing Cooperative in Minneapolis, OMNI Brewing in Maple Grove and Bad Weather Brewing – to show off their fresh hop beers through an event called the MN Fresh Hop Tour.
"We believe that beer drinkers deserve to know where their hops come from," Sannerud said in a news release, noting the tour is a "great way to connect drinkers and brewers to their farmers."
Once the beers are tapped, beer lovers who visit the brewery and order a fresh hop beer will be handed a passport – once the passport is completed (by ordering a fresh hop beer from each brewery), it can be entered to win various prizes, according to Mighty Axe Hops' website.
Fair State's Gold Jerry is expected to be tapped on Sept. 15, with Bad Weather's Wet Hopcromancer being tapped the following week. OMNI's Soaked 2016 will be available starting Sept. 25, Sannerud said.