By: Staff Writer

Mother Earth Brew, a Vista, California based craft brewery founded in 2010, has started distributing their great beer into Middle Tennessee. That makes Tennessee their 13th state for distribution.

The story of how Mother Earth came to fruition is not the typical “we got a homebrew kit and decided to make it our career.” Which is cool, but this has an interesting and somewhat amusing twist. The founding brothers, Daniel and John Love, along with their wives, originally planned to open a winery. The time lapse between inception and actual sales, however, looked as if it was going to take nearly forever, in a manner of speaking.

In comes stepson Kamron, who suggested craft beer. This was in 2008, a time at which the craft beer boom kind of settled down a bit, with the state of the national economy being what it was at the time. But they bought a homebrew kit anyway! At this point, of course, they started brewing in a garage and experimenting with recipes.

Then, in 2010, they acquired their property, a one barrel brewhouse, and opened Mother Earth Brew. As intelligent businessmen, they knew they weren’t prepared to upscale their homebrew recipes.

They looked to brewery consultant Lee Chase, the original lead brewer at Stone. They hired him and he started scaling up immediately. He stayed on for a full 18 months, making sure the first recipes were as great-tasting and high quality as they demanded.

Segue to another very interesting and cool event–during Chase’s tenure, the brewery was replaced. Because of their great-tasting, well made craft beer, an unexpected early demand. necessitated an upgrade from a one barrel to a three barrel brewhouse.

In fact, they completely replaced their brewing system in each of their first three years. From one to three, then to ten the following year.

But here’s the best part of that story. They paid cash for every system, thereby not incurring debt or overhead. Even better, they sold each of their prior systems at a profit. Shortly thereafter, they put in an over-sized 20 barrel brewhouse. This, however, effectively maxed out their capacity at that location.

Then, with continually expanding demand and out-state distribution, they needed to expand to a different location. Unfortunately, taxes in California are brutal, and the state was experiencing a catastrophic drought. Droughts are very bad for brewers. Ya know, water is pretty important.

So in 2016, they opened a new production brewery and tasting room in Nampa, Idaho. This is an ultra modern 40 barrel, four vessel brewhouse nestled in a spacious 40,000 square foot location. It is designed to expand to a fifth vessel with other continuous growth options.

The brewery quickly received acclaim by winning a GABF medal for Fresh as it Gets in the Fresh Hop category. They used the Idaho 7 hop harvested only 30 minutes from the brewery. ISO.

Hawaii was the first state to which they distributed outside of California. That seems like quite a leap, but their local distributor was already sending beer there, so the logistics were already in place. Another fortuitous opportunity resulted from their great working relationship with an importer/exporter. Through them they were able to leverage space to bust out their beer to SE Asia. Their continued expansion includes China, Europe and Brazil.

What’s next? They are already in Georgia thanks to a great opportunity with the Kroger chain. And their expansion plans stay tight on about a two state per year cycle. Per Vice President Kevin Hopkins, lifelong friend of the founders, “we don’t have a plan to control the world, just be a part of it.”

I met with Kevin recently, and we set up a spontaneous interview at a downtown Nashville brewery. He said that their distribution put them relatively in the middle of the craft beer movement by size. This should shelter them from the so called “bubble burst” of which so many like to pontificate. Biz 101 as he said, and rightly so.

Unfortunately, the original tap room just closed. But, in reality, they needed the space as a result of expanding sales. Most importantly, Mother Earth was just voted San Diego’s Best Local Brewery.

From the beginning, for two years, the immediate family did everything, including wives, sons, daughters, cousins–basically anyone willing to join in. Brewing, kegging, hauling/changing kegs, maintenance, distribution, taproom, everything.

At that time, 2012, they added their first employees, and opened their first satellite taproom in downtown Vista. This move helped to revitalize the area, a great ancillary benefit a taproom/brewpub can do for a neighborhood.

What’s next? Slow, easy, controlled expansion. This year will probably see Mother Earth beer finding its way into Alabama. Beyond that? One sophisticated business decision at a time. If it makes sense, expansion happens. If not, they supply the marketplace in such a way to make it most efficient.

From humble beginnings in a 2,200 square foot brewery/taproom/homebrew shop, to operations in two states producing nearly 40,000 barrels a year, multi-state and international distribution, and a full service restaurant, Mother’s Provisions. Not trying to control the world, just be a part of it. Solid.