The North Carolina craft beer scene is vibrant and prolific, and in large part we have the shared, inexhaustible dedication of our breweries to their individual communities to thank for this. Charity events, community meetings and volunteer work create thriving taprooms that double as local gathering places. Within this sphere, two breweries in the works — Dingo Dog Brewery and Burlington Beer Works — stick out like an ESB on a shelf of IPAs.
The first of these service-oriented breweries is set to open a taproom late this fall, on North Greensboro Street in Carrboro, with overwhelming support from its local community. Dingo Dog Brewery will function as an animal rescue nonprofit, raising capital and funding operating costs for no-kill shelters and low-cost spay and neuter clinics, as well as providing education and outreach to meet the individual needs of local communities and organizations.
“At the heart of everything we do is this goal to provide a continued and reliable support mechanism for all of the amazing work being done every day by these organizations,” says Tim Schwarzauer, Dingo Dog Brewery’s founder. “Hopefully, as we grow, so too will the size of our contributions and our impact.”
The choice to devote the first nonprofit brewery to animal rescue was an easy one for Schwarzauer from the start. In fact, the idea of supporting animal rescue agencies developed into plans for a brewery, rather than the other way around.
“Ever since I was a child, my family had rescued animals, catching strays that would hang out around gas stations and restaurants mostly, rehabilitating them and giving them homes or placing them in homes,” Schwarzauer says.
After living through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which left animals — dogs, cats, even parakeets — homeless, Schwarzauer’s family opened the Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi. His connections and firsthand experience in the rescue community cemented deep relationships early on and came in handy as he founded his own nonprofit after moving to North Carolina.
“Knowing exactly what they face and having faced it myself probably lent the needed credence to our cause,” Schwarzauer says. “We weren’t just a gimmick, and we weren’t a scam.”
Second to the logistics of the nonprofit came the logistics of the brewery.
At specialty food store Fifth Season’s “Homebrew for Hunger,” a showcase for local hobby brewers, Schwarzauer met Billy Gagon. Gagon is now the head brewer and taste tester for the Dingo Dog brand. His brews have garnered a promising response.
“I think that was the first time I thought that my crazy idea could actually work,” Schwarzauer says of meeting his business partner.
Funding was another hurdle altogether. This spring, Schwarzauer turned to crowdfunding platform “Kickstarter,” to petition the community for $27,000.
“The Kickstarter campaign may have been one of the more nerve-wracking moments of our efforts to date,” Schwarzauer says. “With Kickstarter, it is all or nothing, so those weeks leading up to the end left us pretty anxious. But we not only met our goal — we exceeded it.”
And Dingo Dog Brewery plans to give back in big ways. The brewery promises to incorporate community outreach into each aspect of business, including hosting mini-fundraisers for local charities which will enable them to reach broader audiences and raise money without expending their often limited resources.
“Businesses can be successful by being tuned-in members of the community,” Schwarzauer says. “It is a mutually beneficial arrangement for all parties and a great example of one of our key goals — showing that corporations can be more than the unfeeling conglomerates the word brings to mind.”
If you’re concerned you’ve been tossing your money into too many “unfeeling conglomerates,” look no further than Burlington Beer Works for an honest, mutually beneficial investment. As a co-op and brewery, the business is owned by the community to support the community, and money channeled into the project allows owners to give personal insight to its direction. So far, the arrow is pointed at bringing new energy to downtown Burlington.
“Burlington Beer Works will continue to add to the ongoing revitalization of our downtown that started with the ‘Company Shops Co-op’ that opened five years ago,” founder Eric Henry says. “‘Company Shops Co-op’ was purposely located downtown to start that revitalization, and it was the business model we built Burlington Beer Works on.”
The business model aims to provide jobs, to sell local products and to provide excellent beer to its community. Although the projected opening date falls somewhere next summer, Burlington Beer Works began its launch around three years ago and continues to grow.
“We have over 1,700 owners and raised over $400,000 through preferred stock, as part of the $1.8 million projected cost,” Henry says.
The overall goal is to amass 2,000 community owners, and, while the owners have purchased a building, renovations won’t begin until they reach their community investment goal.
“Wouldn’t you want the opportunity to own part of a local brewery?,” Henry asks. “You’re buying a share of stock, which means you have a vote on the running and the future direction of the brewery.”
Customers can expect both Dingo Dog Brewery and Burlington Beer Works to provide beer and food from ardent connoisseurs of the trade. Dingo Dog Brewery’s taproom space will be dog and family-friendly, and it will maintain its beer production operations at PlowGirl farm — a converted horse farm-turned-brewery — in Orange County. Burlington Beer Works is already planning for a farm-to-fork restaurant on its own taproom’s second floor.
Whether you stop in in Carrboro and sample a “Lil Nubs” — a brew named for the nickname of the brewery’s namesake, Dingo the St. Bernard mix — or become a community owner of a brewery set to revitalize downtown Burlington, your first drink will be a sip to savor, for a good cause.
Editor’s Note: Dingo Dog brews are available at select locations across the Triangle with a taproom opening later this fall. Burlington Beer Works expects to be open by this time next fall.