What started as a tiny single-suite nano-brewery producing insanely tiny batches of beers using stock-pots over Butane burners has evolved into a Hop Highway success story. Vista-based Mother Earth Brew Co. has gone on to take-over most of the business campus it calls home, while adding a spacious tasting-room in the heart of the city’s old-town area. And over the weekend, they opened the doors to the tasting-room at its second, large-scale production facility in Nampa, Idaho. Mother Earth vice president Kevin Hopkins stopped by en route to the Great American Beer Festival, where the company’s ESB (extra special bitter) medaled. It’s exciting times for the little brewery that could (and did), and the perfect time to get an update straight from source.
What has been the impact of the Nampa facility going online?
Nampa went into full-rate production in August and currently services five-and-a-half states—Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and the northern portion of California. Its initial impact has been the ability to launch full-state distribution in Washington and Oregon with many more states to come. Last weekend’s tasting-room opening had representation of staff from both of our breweries and a great line-up of beers for people to experience.
What is Mother Earth’s organizational structure like with multiple breweries in multiple states?
Head brewer Chris Baker permanently relocated to Idaho and oversees operations there. Lead brewer Jeff Hueneman took over Vista operations and works collaboratively with Chris on items that concern both facilities. Production-scheduling and overall operations are managed corporately from here in Vista by our CFO/COO and our logistics team. We also have “beer traffic coordinators” located at both breweries to provide continuity.
What are details of expansion efforts at the original Vista brewery?
Vista started out as a 2,200-square-foot brewery and has expanded to approximately 28,000 square feet of production-space producing over 30,000 barrels of beer each year. Part of our master-plan included infrastructure investment to take Vista out to 40,000 barrels with the addition of fermentation and brite tanks to reach that capacity. Infrastructure is in place and tanks are being added as needed. Our next “stand-up” will be new nitro vessels to accommodate and expand our extremely successful NITRO programs.
What new beers are on the horizon for Mother Earth?
Mother Earth has always had a pilot-program to bring new and expanded offerings to market. Boo Koo Mosaic IPA, Born Blonde and our World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival and San Diego International Beer Festival award-winning ESB are all examples of that. 2016 was our pilot-year for our quarterly rotating can program featuring classics such as Kismet Nelson IPA and Hop Diggity Double IPA. The rotating program now falls under the “Resinator Hop Series.” Look for these beers on shelves, draft and included in “Love Packs”, 12- and 24-can variety packs featuring fan favorites and seasonal or rotating beers. One of those beers will be our Sin Tax Imperial Peanut Butter Stout. We’re also adding a full-time barrel-aged draft offering—our super-popular Quit Stalin Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout.
As a former San Diego Brewers Guild president, what are your thoughts on the direction of that trade organization?
It was an honor to represent our local breweries. Now, as president emeritus, I have the pleasure of watching Jillian Davidson move us forward and working with an engaged board of directors that has nothing but the best interests of our industry and local beer brethren at heart. The board has been working very hard on future planning and 2017 is certain to hold some new initiatives, updates and an expansion of how we can best service our membership and the industry at-large. Working directly with the California Craft Brewers Association on important legislative and regulatory issues is chief amongst these, as well as continuing the focus on quality marketing, communications and events that bring education and awareness to the public and provide legitimacy to our members who work hard each and every day with passion and perseverance.