At Earth Bread + Brewery in Mount Airy, password is 'sustainable'

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Peggy Zwerver owns Earth Bread   Brewery with her husband, Tom Baker. The Mount Airy brewpub strives to be sustainable. Baker brews his own beer each week and makes syrups for all-natural sodas.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Peggy Zwerver owns Earth Bread Brewery with her husband, Tom Baker. The Mount Airy brewpub strives to be sustainable. Baker brews his own beer each week and makes syrups for all-natural sodas.
Posted: April 08, 2014

P EGGY ZWERVER, 59, and husband Tom Baker, 57, of Germantown, own Earth Bread + Brewery, a sustainable restaurant and brewpub in Mount Airy, which they started in 2008. I spoke with Zwerver.

Q: How'd you come up with the idea for the biz?

A: We had a production brewery in Ocean, N.J. On the bottom of the production chain you see how much people make on a product you created. So after seven years we decided we wanted a [spot] where we'd want to hang out and Tom could brew anything and we'd be sustainable.

Q: How'd you do that?

A: We did reuse and bought very little new during the buildout. We compost or recycle 80 percent of our total waste stream. We support local farms and make everything in house and our cleaning products are green.

Q: Where do you get ingredients?

A: We buy whatever we can from Weaver's Way farm and some Jersey farms. We try to buy as much as we can in season. The flour in our flatbreads is Pennsylvania spelt, 100 percent organic.

Q: What are the most popular items on the menu?

A: We do soups, salads and appetizers, but really what we're known for is flatbread pizza. Our most popular flatbread right now is called White and Black and has figs, bacon, arugula, a garlic base, three cheeses.

Q: You also brew your own beer and sodas?

A: [Tom] makes all the syrups for our all-natural sodas and then we have seltzer at the bar and we mix it up. We usually have four beers of our own on tap and the other seven are brewed on the East Coast or Pennsylvania. [Tom] hasn't made the same beer twice. It might be the same style, but he changes the recipe or uses a different hop. Most brewpubs have the same pale ale on tap and don't offer guest taps.

Q: How often does he change the four brews?

A: He brews about 230 gallons with each batch. Depending on style and popularity, some are gone in 10 days and some are gone in three weeks. He usually brews a batch per week.

Q: How do you and Tom divide management duties?

A: He's the brewer, handyman and Renaissance man. I do HR, bookkeeping and was front of the house for a long time until we hired a second manager.

Q: How big a biz is this?

A: About $1.3 million in gross revenue last year. Forty employees, half full-time. We try to offer a sustainable wage. I've offered health insurance for years.

Q: What's been the biggest challenge growing the biz?

A: Finding new things to intrigue people. We offer music a couple nights a week. We have a Quizzo night and a ping-pong night. Some nights a percentage of proceeds go to a nonprofit.


On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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