When you drive through Hope, MN you will still see the creamery looking pretty much like it did in 1920. It was constructed as a farmers co-operative to provide services to local dairy farmers. Raw milk was bottled or rendered into cream to be used in the butter. In the late 1960s, the creamery began moving away from bottling milk to focus on butter-making and upgraded much of the equipment accordingly. Most of that equipment is still in use to make our product. That same process from the mid-20th century is used to make the butter you know and love today!
Since 2001, the creamery has been owned and operated by Victor Mrotz, a Steele County native farmer and entrepreneur that saw an opportunity when the creamery was slated for closure.He bought the building and the land, enabling the legacy of Hope Butter to flourish at the masterful hands of long-time buttermaker Gene Kruckeberg.
As the years have gone by, local has become an important part of consumer's food choices. People like to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced. Hope Creamery provides a delicious food product with a grassroots appeal that echoes the emphasis on farm to table connection. This led to our relationship with chefs and bakers in the Twin Cities who wanted to provide their customers with gourmet dishes infused with locally sourced ingredients like ours.
We independently distribute to restaurants, grocery stores, co-ops, and bakeries across the state. Our butter has been recognized by organizations like Slow Foods, as well as dozens of esteemed chefs, kitchen managers, and restaurateurs. You can trust in the opinions of our colleagues and the rave reviews from our satisfied customers.
We have a small staff of dedicated individuals who love their work. It's amazing what we can do with a staff of 11. The staff fill the positions of owners, butter makers, production assistants, delivery drivers, and office managers. (Not pictured Bill Wagner & Katie Winzenburg)
The head butter maker, Gene, had been making butter at the creamery since 1964 when Victor purchased the business. Jay Logan learned the craft from Gene and was a buttermaker/production manager from 2004 until he passed in 2019. Mike Iverson, Lori Allard, and Hudson Mrotz have made butter and managed the facility since.
While most butter today comes from modern creameries that are automatically controlled industries, we still run a traditional creamery with skilled butter makers who monitor and control the nuances of the butter making process to give our customers the freshest and tastiest experience possible.
While the process of making butter is still the same as it has been for several hundred years, the tools vary--from small churns made from stoneware, wood, metal or glass to huge industrial automated continuous flow churns. Our churn is somewhere in the middle, we use a batch-style aluminum barrel churn that is operated and monitored by our butter makers.
Our butter is made using an age-old process more similar to shaking cream in a jar than the advanced industrial techniques found in large scale production operations. Slow-speed vat pasteurization and small batch production methods contribute to fundamentally separating us from competitors. This also allows us to churn butter fresh every week. While some large producers of butter will manufacture and then freeze their product until it hits the shelf in the grocery store, we never freeze our butter, providing customers with a fresh product every time. Our business model is to make butter, sell butter and then make more butter. Simple.
Although we don't have our own herd of dairy cows we do get all of our cream (the ingredient in butter) from local Minnesota dairies. We pick up the cream in our bulk truck from Plainview Creamery, where all the milk is sourced from area farmers and is rBST/rBGH free. It is pasteurized there once before we receive it and pasteurize it again.
You can buy Hope Butter at many local grocery stores. Click here to see a list of grocers.