What started out for bar manager Molly Braxton of Mad Mole Brewing as simple research has ended in award-winning recognition. Wilmington’s newest brewery is cloaked as America’s Favorite Solar Craft Microbrewery.
“Honestly, it was a random chain of events,” Braxton tells. “I Googled ‘brewed by the sun’ to see if we’d pop up because we use the term in a lot of our advertisements.”
However, a competition called “Brews From the Sun” popped up, as hosted by Solar United Neighbors (SUN)—a 501(c)3 national organization dedicated to representing the needs and interests of solar owners and supporters (solarunitedneighbors.com). According to Mad Mole co-owner Ole Pedersen, “the brewery has 63 panels that provide 22 kilowatts of power. The solar array panels are tied in to our electrical main, so what it generates can be used by everything that needs power. If we happen to produce more than we use, it goes to the grid and gives us credit. Currently the panels account for about 1/3 of our electrical usage.”
With a one-week deadline looming in Braxton’s Google search, she quickly began working to get Mad Mole on the nominee list. “I didn’t really think much of it at the time,” she tells.
On June 19 the brewery announced on their Facebook page, “The Mole train takes it home.” They hosted an event on June 15 called “SUNstainable Saturday” to raise money for Cape Fear River Watch, which happened to also be the last day of the six-week long people’s choice competition. $1,000 was raised for the River Watch, and the event aided in Mad Mole crossing the finish line into first place.
The competition had three categories for entry: Brewpub had eight competitors; Microbrewery had 21; and Regional had 15. Mad Mole won with 1,630 votes. Second and third places also went to North Carolina breweries, Birdsong Brewing Company in Charlotte and Wiseman Brewing in Winston-Salem.
Contestants shared information about the benefits of solar power to their fans and followers to encourage votes. They also received a digital media kit and package of materials to give away to patrons.
“The breweries who have historically gotten the most votes are those who incorporate in person voting collection and those who come up with creative ways to spread the word about the competition,” according to Brews from the Sun.
Mad Mole teamed up with Cape Fear Solar Systems to help spread the word. Cape Fear Solar Systems did a raffle for a $25 Mad Mole gift card to whomever voted for the brewery and commented on their Facebook post. Combined with a strong social-media presence and the event on the 15, Mad Mole claimed victory.
Mad Mole has always proudly brandished their sustainable setup, but Braxton thinks the win will provide an even stronger association.
“It has definitely had an impact on how we are known to people,” she says. “I’ve heard people coming in that do so solely on the fact we are solar powered. Having that name and getting recognition is a major perk in itself.”
On Saturday, July 27, there is going to be an awards ceremony at the brewery called the “Solar Celebration.” There will be music and food trucks all day, featuring artists Trifecta and John Rodgers, as well as Joe Loves Lobster Rolls and Pepe’s Tacos. Representatives from SUN will be present to reward Mad Mole.
The Mad Mole team is excited and especially grateful for support given from around the Port City. “It was an awesome grassroots movement at the start and the whole Mad Mole team got really involved,” Braxton says. “We reached out to almost everyone we knew to try and win. It was an amazing bonding experience . . . We are so grateful to the Wilmington community for voting and are so lucky to live in a place that values sustainability and good beer.”
Speaking of which, the brewery released its very first cans on Thursday, July 18. Sippers can snag a 4-pack of 16-ounce Boston Mole Party New England IPA in the Mad Mole taproom.