I always end up with a lot more free time on Saturdays once college football is over, and while I love football season and watching my Hokies every weekend it’s actually kind of nice to have a Saturday with no television requirements. The first thing on my list after the end of the regular season this year was a road trip to an out-of-town North Carolina brewery to check another one off my Mountains-to-Sea Brewery list. By this point I’ve visited just about every Triangle-area brewery (I think the lone missing brewery is Triangle Brewing in Durham) so I was excited for a day trip to a brewery in a different part of the state.
My first hope was to visit Duck Rabbit out in Farmville, but for some reason their newly opened tap room isn’t open on Saturdays. Next on my list was Mother Earth, a short hour and a half down 70 East in Kinston. Heading down 70 East not only gets you to an awesome brewery, but it also has the added benefit of some awesome Eastern NC barbecue, which makes the road trip that much better.
With so many good barbecue options it was hard to decide where to stop for lunch on our way to Kinston, but we settled on Ken’s Grill in La Grange thanks to a helpful Twitter tip from @beerandracing. Ken’s only does barbecue on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and dear god do they do it right. The pork was tender and delicious, some of the best I’ve had in NC. The hushpuppies were fantastic too. And you know you’re in the right kind of place when there’s just a pitcher of sweet tea sitting on the table at all times. All around, excellent barbecue at a great place. If you’re ever in the area on a Wednesday or Saturday, do yourself a favor and make the stop.
Happy and well fed, we continued down 70 East for another 10 miles or so to Kinston, a quiet little town on the Neuse River and home to Mother Earth Brewing. Living in Raleigh I’m used to the tap rooms at Big Boss, LoneRider and Fullsteam, but Mother Earth’s has a completely different feel. It’s quiet, almost serene, with black leather couches and metal stools/tables and white drapes covering half the walls. Centered in this beautiful room is a big horseshoe bar serving the freshest Mother Earth brews you can find, and I grabbed a pint of their Jebediah English Pale Ale before the tour started.
All brewery tours cover the same basic information, but I always enjoy seeing each brewery’s different setup and peaking behind the curtain to see where their beer is made. The Mother Earth tour started in the barrel aging room, where I was immediately salivating over all the bourbon barrels with “SN” written on them. We also took a look in their eco-friendly cooler and got to dig around in and smell some of the hops used in their beers. It was cool to see their canning line too, something you don’t see at the majority of NC breweries. Mother Earth even has a slide from the upstairs to brewhouse floor for the times when stairs are just too boring, but sadly we weren’t allowed to give it a try. They keep all of that fun for themselves.
Once the tour ended we retired back to the tap room for a couple more beers before the drive back to Raleigh. Sadly, there was no Silent Night on tap, but I did finally try their Sisters of the Moon IPA and had a pint of their Dark Cloud dunkel — one of my favorite NC beers. Both delicious. So far I’ve enjoyed every one of their beers I’ve tasted. The tap room has a nice patio too, but probably better enjoyed in April instead of December.
I thought the Mother Earth brewery was more than worth the trip down from Raleigh. The brewery itself is beautiful, occupying almost an entire block in downtown Kinston, and the tap room and tour are welcoming as well. One of the best things about making the trip is that the brewery is just so different from most of the Triangle breweries and it’s really cool to see how they operate down in Kinston.
Do yourself a favor and make the trip. And be sure to stop for barbecue along the way.