U connects with breweries through research

An event Thursday showcased seven local breweries and University agricultural research.

Janice Bitters

Whether it’s alumni-owned microbreweries or agricultural research on hops and barley, the University of Minnesota has a rich relationship with brewing.

This relationship was celebrated Thursday at the University’s second annual U and Brew event, which included seven local, alumni-owned breweries

“We came here to drink beer and to celebrate the University of Minnesota’s research programs in hops and in barley,” said Phil Platt, marketing and membership director at the University’s Campus Club.

Each brewery offered samplings of their craft beers, but beer wasn’t the only thing on display.

A lone stand at the event showcased some of the University’s research efforts in the production of hops — a main beer ingredient — including information as detailed as the chemical makeup of the plant.

Josh Havill is an undergraduate research assistant in horticultural science. He has been working on the Saint Paul campus collecting data about the plant, which could be used to increase hops production in Minnesota, where factors like unpredictable weather can make hops difficult to grow.

Gathering data is a long and intensive process, Havill said, but is rewarding.

Brewers want locally grown ingredients, he said, and University research may help more brewers get their hands on hops grown in the state.

The number of brewers in Minnesota is growing, according to the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. Many credit a 2011 law passed by the Minnesota Legislature for the growth.

The “Surly Bill,” named for a Minnesota craft brewing company, allows microbrewers to sell the beer they produce in onsite taprooms.