John Brach, now president of MHGA, was also on that call that gave birth to an organization in March 2013, which by all accounts is altruistic for and on behalf of Minnesota-grown hops and those who want to get on board.
, says Brach
, was created with a few simple aims.
"Our whole purpose of existing is to help educate people interested in growing hops, get them connected with growers and suppliers, and to support research in Minnesota," he
"And we've done a little bit of all of that this past year."
Brach started looking into growing hops in 2011 for something to do as he was getting ready to retire from a career as an engineer for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
"There was a lot going on in Wisconsin [...] but there really was not much happening in Minnesota," says Brach
wanted to form a network and community of support in Minnesota like what he
'd found in Wisconsin, but he didn't quite know how to start.
"We had no idea who else was interested.
I asked how many growers we needed for an association, and I recall Charlie saying we need at least two in order to make the name plural," says Brach
own plunge into hops recently, buying land near Stillwater, where he
put hops in the ground for the first time in spring of 2013, giving life to Stone Hill Farm.
wife, Kim, also keep bees and their business card happily reads "Hops & Honey."
believes that MHGA
and Minnesota are at the start of something big.
"I'm hoping [Minnesota's] growth isn't just linear-I'm hoping we double the state's acreage for each of the next few years-to get operations going where people can see it," says Brach
estimates the state has under ten acres of hop yards, but he
anticipates hosting hop yard tours some day soon for people to visit the farm and the very ground from which their beer is grown.
There's John Brach's
Stone Hill Farm near Stillwater; Mighty Axe Hops near Ham Lake; North Road Hops near Grand Marais; and Ocean Fields Vineyard
, which, as you might guess, is a vineyard diversifying with hops.