The Northfield News reports in Northfield graduates return home with the hope of making whiskey:
. . .the pair are setting out to open a craft distillery in Northfield, which would be just the second in Minnesota.
With an initial product of white whiskey that Rossi called a “whiskey and vodka hybrid,” the Northfield High School graduates are planning on calling their initial offering “Loonshine.”
“We’re both diehard Minnesota boys,” Rossi said. “We’re hoping to source our stuff locally, and environmental stewardship will be a big part of our operation.”
Standing between the pair and their launch is the issue of money; for that they have turned to Indiegogo, a fundraising platform for startup projects that facilitates financial pledges. Schiller and Rossi are planning to use the site to sell preorders and take pledges, rewarding investors of different amounts with signature bottles, their name and five words carved into equipment at the future distillery site, and tours with distilling lessons. . . .
Bluestem wishes them well in their effort to bottle a bit of the Minnesota spirit from locally grown ingredients.
It wasn't unusual for our editor's farmer neighbors in rural LeSueur County to keep a personal still when she was a child, though these weren't commercial ventures, merely the stuff of legend. The gentlemen in Northfield plan to adhere to the law, and so face far more business challenges than her gentle corn-growing neighbors.
The Mankato Free Press reports in Waseca hops research follows growth in craft beer:
For hobbyist home-brewer and horticultural scientist Charlie Rohwer, it’s a research project made in beer heaven.
Rohwer, a research associate at the University of Minnesota’s Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, has been growing hops at the facility since 2010.
Object: To create a Minnesota-friendly plant that will benefit the state’s agricultural interests while catering to the needs of Minnesota’s burgeoning craft beer industry. . . . .
Rohwer said the goal of the research is to increase the knowledge base for people who want to get into growing hops, a viney growth supported by tall trellises whose flower clusters look like pot buds for a reason — the plant is in the marijuana family.
Until the 1960s a hop was essentially a hop, but USDA hybridizing efforts since then have produced dozens of varieties, including citra hops, which impart fruity notes to trendy flavored beers.
According to the American Brewers Association, craft beer production in the nation grew by 13 percent in 2011, with retail sales nearly 15 percent ($8.7 billion) of the $95 billion U.S beer market.
Minnesota has ascended to 26th in the nation in the number of breweries per capita. . . .
This is good news, akin to the development of northern-hardy grapes that has spurred Minnesota's growing family of vineyards.
While these developments might make the ghost of St. Olaf graduate Andrew Volstead restless in the Granite Falls museum in his former home, Bluestem thinks that the spirits of the Minnesotans who kicked him out of office in 1922 for his prohibitive nature are probably cheering.
Photo: Andrew Volstead is not impressed. Bluestem still likes the Capper-Volstead Act, though, which helps cooperatives.