Made in the Carolinas: Mother Earth Brewing
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KINSTON, N.C. – When two guys in Kinston wanted to get serious about making beer, they hired a brewer, literally. They brought on Josh Brewer to run the operation.
“I was thinking about getting a T-shirt that just says, 'No, I didn’t change my last name,” Brewer said.
At the beginning, their place looked nothing like it does today.
“It was just very dark and cold and, you know, just broken glass all over,” he said.
But owners Stephen Hill and his son-in-law, Trent Mooring, were committed to their hometown.
“This was the ugliest building in downtown and it really hurt the street, and by coming in and just revitalizing it, it’s just brought new life into the whole area,” Hill said.
Hill and Mooring had plenty of ideas about the business and many of them had nothing to do with beer.
“When we set out to make the brewery, we said we’re going to make, we’re going to design a brewery and build a brand that is reflective of our personality,” Mooring said.
They called it Mother Earth Brewing to show their commitment to sustainability and the environment.
“When you go ahead and call your brewery Mother Earth Brewing Company, you know, there better be some follow-up,” Brewer said.
They followed up alright, with a system to capture rainwater for various uses and solar panels to provide electricity. They went all in, taking every opportunity to be green.
“We’re in the process of becoming LEED certified right now, which will make us the first LEED certified brewery in the country,” said Mooring.
All that was done with little hope that it would have a positive impact on the bottom line.
“It’s a personal thing. It will not help us in our business, at all,” Hill said.
What can help the business at a brewery is the taste of the beer. Mother Earth has developed an extensive portfolio with everything from Belgian to German to American-style brews.
“You have to have something to help you pay the bills and then you can play and that’s what we’re doing,” Hill said.
From aging beer in bourbon and wine barrels to adding uncommon ingredients, the menu keeps expanding. For example, take this year’s window pane series, which will use local fruit.
“One will have raspberries, one will have peaches and then the other one will have blackberries,” said Brewer.
Mother Earth produced 2,400 barrels of beer in 2011 and plans on doubling that amount this year. With that will come expansion beyond the borders of North Carolina.
“We are making enough beer for North Carolina now, so it’s maybe time to venture out,” said Hill.