Organic eating and homemade beer are a ‘lifestyle and culture’ for Mount Airy brewery

Earth – Bread + Brewery specializes in its own home brews, sells exclusively local craft beers and supports eco-friendly dining.

At Earth - Bread + Brewery, Liz Martino, bartender, pours a drink from one of 11 beers on tap that are constantly changing. | Margo Reed TTN
At Earth - Bread + Brewery, Liz Martino, bartender, pours a drink from one of 11 beers on tap that are constantly changing. | Margo Reed TTN

The owners of Earth – Bread + Brewery in Mount Airy base their choice of house brews on whatever moves them at the time.

Peggy Zwerver and her husband Tom Baker, who have been brewing since 1997, moved to Philadelphia six years ago to open Earth  – Bread + Brewery which operates with a specific focus on local community support, an environmentally friendly atmosphere and a sustainable philosophy.

All the cleaning products used in store are non-toxic and biodegradable, while the food is homemade, non-processed and purchased locally to support nearby producers and farmers. Everything is recycled and composted, and the amount of waste that ends up salvaged is twice the volume of trash the brewery wastes weekly.

Even the grain left over from brewing is brought to local farms in Pennsylvania and fed to the animals or composted.

Along with supporting local agriculture, Earth – Bread + Brewery strongly focuses on featuring local brews with distributors like Philadelphia Brewing Company, while also including select craft beers from all over the world.

Zwerver said Baker is always brewing, and the 11 beers they offer on tap, four house drafts and seven guest drafts, are constantly changing.

“My husband does whatever he feels like at the time,” Zwerver said. “Because we have all these other drafts, he likes to do whatever moves him, just whatever style he likes.”

The couple’s current four house drafts are a German Sticke alt, “Polyjeanynol Harveyoxide;” an IPA, “Flavorama;” an Imperial Stout, “Breznik” and a rye saison, “Stella, It’s Not.”

All of the house brews are made in the basement of the brewery where the kettle and fermenters are kept.

The brewing process starts with mashing the grain, which becomes pressed when added with hot water. It is then brought to the kettle where it gets boiled and hops, the cone-like female flowers of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus) are added as a stability agent for flavoring. Depending on the recipe, the timing of adding the hops will vary. The hoses connect the process and yeast is added when transferred to the two fermenters, Lynne and Leslie  – named after Zwerver’s sisters.

Zwerver said a recent beer her husband was brewing had a recipe that caused a potent smell she describes as sweet, malty and smoky.

“This specific beer has a smoked character to it,” she said. “What he does is, he roasts the grain a bit to make it dark so that when it gets boiled, it gives it this smoky taste.”

“It’s a very specific process for this recipe,” she added.

The couple is also currently featuring craft beers from local Philadelphia brewers, as well as New York, Indiana and Florida.

Zwerver said the two of them are close friends with Philadelphia Brewing Company who provides their restaurant with bottled beers including Commonwealth Hard Cider and Gregarious Ginger Cider.

Aside from supporting the community with their business and sustainability, Earth – Bread + Brewery focuses on fundraising and holding events for local nonprofits as well.

Omar Muhammad, a server who has been with Earth – Bread + Brewery since it opened six years ago, said the sustainability theme is important in many aspects of the restaurant and brewery business.

“It’s our lifestyle and culture,” Muhammad said. “We’re all about giving back and taking less of the earth. We have to preserve it for us and our future generations, so composting, recycling and having a sustainable method of running a business is actually how I would love to see all businesses grow.”

Alexa Zizzi can be reached

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