The craft beer industry is booming. $10 billion in sales in 2012 according to the Brewers Association.
In terms of dollars, the total U.S. beer market grew just one percent in 2012, but the craft beer market jumped 17 percent.
As of June of this year, there are nearly 2,500 craft breweries operating in the U.S. And North Carolina is home to 79 of them, leading the charge among the southern states. Nine can be found in the east.
Trent Mooring and his father-in-law Stephen Hill took their mutual passion for beer-making and co-founded Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston in 2009.
Mooring said, "You can take your philosophy and you can take different parts of your personality and incorporate it into a brand and go around the state trying to sell it. It's been really neat to see that brand grow."
For guys like Mooring and Hill, what started out as a simple passion and love for brewing beer has grown into so much more. It's now about revitalizing local neighborhoods and giving a boost to the North Carolina economy.
Stephen Hill said, "It started in Kinston with The Chef and The Farmer and then we opened about a year later. It's sparked other restaurants and music venues and the revitalization of some homes here. Other businesses are coming downtown and redoing buildings."
Just about 30 minutes north of Mother Earth, nestled down in the back of Farmville's industrial district, you'll find The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, which has been in operation since 2004.
Founder Paul Philippon said, "Worked for three other breweries before I finally decided I had the experience that it made sense to approach a bank to lend me money to start my own and here I am. They said, yes!"
Making beer is quickly becoming a statewide effort and breweries are sourcing as many ingredients locally as they can. And with a little help from Professor John Sheppard and his colleagues at N.C. State, that may only get easier.
In the basement of Schaub Hall on the campus of N.C. State University, they brew beer. I know, the jokes write themselves, but for Dr. John Sheppard and the students in his graduate program, it's all about the science of making beer and that science goes a long way.
John Sheppard said, "Brewing, typically, is done in a batch mode. One of the problems with batch fermentation is getting consistency from batch to batch."
A consistency he's more than willing to help brewers across the state achieve.
"I do have personal relationships with a lot of the craft brewing people here in North Carolina and if we can help out by doing some analysis in our lab for them, we do that when we can," Sheppard said.
In addition, Sheppard's agricultural counterparts are working with farmers to create a useable, local crop of hops, barley and other brewing grains.
"If you could get farmers out there growing some good malts, good grains and stuff for us to use it'd be super. We could be the hub of some agricultural growth," said Trent Mooring.
Paul Philippon said, "It's encouraging both because I want to be able to source products locally and because I think it's just a bellwether. It signals something about where this industry is and that it's being taken seriously by academia."
Mother Earth and The Duck-Rabbit, while both have plans to expand and dominate the craft brew industry, both have bought up enough real estate in their current locations to ensure that they will never have to relocate.