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BET Vodka turns beets into a mellow, versatile spirit

Think vodka has to be boring? Wanna BET?

Think vodka has to be boring? Wanna BET?

Vodka. The clearest of alcoholic beverages, the harshest of consonants. Unfairly cast as the flavorless spirit.

But Ben Brueshoff and Jerad Poling weren’t bogged down in old ways of thinking when they crafted the new BET Vodka (pronounced "beet"); they were looking locally and at the present, where Minnesota is the #1 grower of sugar beets in the country. Brueshoff and Poling had an idea to distill a vodka using the Minnesota-grown root vegetable. With help from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, a funding grant, and 45th Parallel Distillery across the border in New Richmond, Wisconsin, they’ve made a vodka thought to be the first made entirely from sugar beets.

(It should be noted that others have used the ingredient in their vodkas — just not as the primary source. Du Nord’s l’Etoile uses some sugar beets, but with corn as the dominant ingredient.)

You can tell the difference the minute you crack open a bottle of BET Vodka. A soft, sweet aroma pops forth, highlighting the sugar, though there's an earthiness underneath. The sweetness is subdued and clean with a teensy touch of vanilla. BET hits the tongue with a notable alcohol burn followed by the mellow root flavors; by the time it reaches the back of the tongue, you'll note a touch of pepper that gives a clean yet warm finish.

The flavors are understated, staying true to vodka’s seen-not-heard “flavorless” profile, but with enough backbone to distinguish this beet spirit and give it character. This vodka would go well in a bitter citrus cocktail or a dry martini to let the different ends of sweet and bitter pull together in a new middle. BET also recommends trying it neat with a few dashes of orange bitters.

Most vodka is made using grains such as corn or wheat, especially among Minnesota’s nascent craft distilling scene. Potatoes are another frequent ingredient, particularly in Russian vodkas.

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White-tan sugar beets are grown on 430,000 acres in Minnesota, mostly in the state’s northwestern corner, with a cooperative farm supplying BET specifically. With the sugar beet base, BET Vodka is testing what new crops can offer to a traditional spirit, but without shattering the profile. They're emphasizing subtlety in the glass, not gimmickry.

Find it on sale now in local stores, including Booze Mart, Lowry Hill Liquor, Rum River, MGM stores, Central Spirits, and more.