Although availability of beers made with Minnesota hops is spotty, there are a few beers currently on shelves that allow you to experience the local terroir.
Fair State Brewing Cooperative’s IPA, offered year-round, features Tropica and Zenia hops from Mighty Axe Farm. This West Coast-style of IPA is all about hops. The aroma gushes with squishy tropical fruits accompanied by a dash of vanilla. Tropical fruits carry over into the flavor with prominent pineapple and the addition of grapefruit peel. Bitterness is high and lingers long into the finish.
Another offering with year-round availability is Mill City Pils from 612 Brew. This pre-Prohibition-style of American pilsner features Mighty Axe Triple Pearl hops. A base of grainy, corny and slightly sweet malt supports prominent peppery hop flavors with a minty/floral finish. Bitterness is light and crisp. Low fermentation notes of apple complete the experience.
Available right now in limited release is Citra Snowcaps Double IPA from Pryes Brewing Co. in Minneapolis, which incorporates Julius hops from Mighty Axe. This hazy New England-style IPA drips juicy, fresh-squeezed fruit. Passion fruit and papaya are prominent, with lemon/lime citrus notes offering a tart note of contrast. Bitterness is very low, but the 8% alcohol works with it to provide a semblance of structure.
You can probably still find Tip Up, the winter seasonal beer from Beaver Island Brewing Co. in St. Cloud. Mighty Axe Centennial hops were used in this dusky, smoky brew. Together with berrylike spruce and layers of chocolate and toasted grain, this beer elicits memories of a crackling North Woods campfire.
Other metro-area breweries that sporadically or regularly use locally grown hops include Bauhaus Brew Labs, Bad Weather Brewing, Dangerous Man Brewing, Roundhouse Brewery, Finnegan’s, Wicked Wort, OMNI Brewing and Lupulin Brewing Co. Brewers often make a point of highlighting their use of local hops, especially experimental varieties. Look for occasional taproom and limited package releases. The Mighty Axe website has a regularly updated listing of beers that incorporate their hops, at mightyaxehops.com/drinkhops.