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.