WILMINGTON — After more than 12,000 votes were submitted over six weeks, Wilmington’s Mad Mole Brewing has won the title as America’s favorite solar-powered microbrewery.
“We were thrilled just to be associated with so many forward-thinking breweries,” the brewery said in a statement on Wednesday. “We are grateful for all the support we have received from our wonderful customers and the local community. The competition helped raise awareness of the possibilities of solar.”
Mad Mole’s 1,630 votes were not only the most in the microbrewery category, but also the most collected of all 44 breweries who participated in the annual Brews from the Sun competition. The other two winners — Maui Brewing Co. of the regional brewery category and Canal Park Brewing Co. of the brewpub category — only had 1,288 and 935 votes, respectively.
Mad Mole beat out Charlotte’s Birdsong Brewing Co. by nearly 300 votes after the two traded the first place spot at least five times during the last week of voting. Winston Salem’s Wise Man Brewing finished in third place in the microbrewery category.
Co-owner Chris Worden attributed the victory to the wide support received from the local community, from those who not only wanted Mad Mole to win but who also wanted the city of Wilmington to be recognized.
Worden said he hopes Mad Mole will team up with its former competitor in the contest, Birdsong Brewing Co., to brew a “powered by the sun” collaboration batch in the future.
“We had a little help,” Worden said. “Friends, families, customers — everyone got on board. It seemed like everyone wanted Wilmington to win.”
Last year the competition only crowned one winner, Mudshark Brewing out of Arizona. Worden said the decision to split the contest into three categories more accurately represented the large difference in scale between microbreweries and large regional breweries like Maui Brewing Co., which he said uses a solar system that costs more than $9 million.
Wilmington’s only solar-powered brewery opened in June 2018, and shortly after a 22-megawatt solar system was installed via 63 panels on its south-facing roof. Co-owners Ole Pederson and Martin de Jongh said that solar power completely runs the electric brewhouse system while supplying roughly a third of Mad Mole’s total energy consumption.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com