“North Carolina’s I-95 Brewery”
“We have all come to the realization that we are Dirtbags; not that we are bad people, but that real innovators and pioneers don’t follow a rule book, and doing what’s right often requires not conforming to conventional wisdom.” -Tito, Eric, & Jerry, Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom
Hope Mills, North Carolina-
Do you love craft beer? Farm-to-table cuisine? Farmers Markets? Yoga? Great music? A chill vibe? Kid-friendly open, outdoor spaces where your children can roam? Supporting local businesses and farmers?
If you answered yes to any of the above, Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom is for you!
This past Sunday, I was invited by Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau along with other local, and North Carolina based bloggers, to spend the day at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom to check out all of the establishments new improvements to their wildly successful business.
To say I was impressed is putting it lightly.
This veteran owned and operated business is top-notch— and so much more than just a brewery.
It is a community.
The love and dedication owners Vernardo Simmons-Valenzuela (“Tito”), Eric Whealton, and Jerry Hall have for their business oozes from every corner of the gorgeous, countryside property. The heavenly smell of cedar permeates the air as recycled wood is used within the interior of the brewery.
Upon arrival, we were given a tour of the brewery and an education by Hope Demetris, a military spouse, mother, and lead female brewer at Dirtbag Ales. Hope explained the love and care that goes into creating a quality brew.
Her in depth knowledge of the equipment and process was enchanting and impressive. She studied under brew master and co-owner of Dirtbag Ales, Tito, who is the visionary behind the fabulous brewed beer.
When the journey first began, Hope acknowledged they hand stirred the product, but due to high demand and a successful business they have graduated to more savvy brewery equipment to ensure a perfect pour.
There is a plethora of beer choices, from Blood Orange Kolsch to IPA, Mocha Porter to Smash— a little something for every beer connoisseur. Not to mention, Sangria, Ciders, and more.
Following the brewery tour, the bloggers were offered a yoga class to connect with their minds and bodies outdoors on the serene grounds of the compound.
Hayat Hakim— a seventeen year Army veteran turned yoga instructor and owner of the popular Hayat Yoga Shaka in Fayetteville, NC— lead us in the most tranquil yet challenging morning meditation.
The weather was perfect— and with each breath and balance pose, a welcomed breeze flowed over the crowd like a dream.
Truly, a wonderful way to begin a Sunday.
We worked up quite a hunger and thirst from our morning exercise so it was only fitting our next stop was a beer tasting and brunch provided by the onsite farm-to-table restaurant, Napkins.
Let me brag on Napkins just a bit. Brian Graybill, the owner of Gray Bill Hospitality and lead chef of Napkins, met with our group to give us an overview of the restaurant’s mission.
Brian informed us he shops from the vendors at Dirtbag Farmers Market on Sunday morning (Cathis Farm, Purpose Driven Family Farm, Spartan Tusk and Feather Livestock, Jackson Farms Produce, to name a few), he then purchases farm fresh meats and veggies from the local farmers onsite and prepares the daily menu based on available products.
This concept of #supportlocal and #sustainability blew me away.
Not only is it a beautiful concept, but the food is AMAZING.
We were served decadent Stone-ground Shrimp and Grits with cilantro cheese curd (dare I say some of the best I’ve ever eaten), Scotch eggs cased in fresh sausage and yummy sweet potato hash browns.
My mouth waters just thinking of all the goodness that was on my plate.
Well done, Napkins.
“Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.” -Benjamin Franklin
And now, let’s talk BEER.
To accompany our delicious meal, we were offered a selection of brews on tap (commonly known as a beer flight) and/or a full pint of cider and glass of Sangria.
I chose the beer flight and sampled some deliciously crafted hops— each refreshing and delightful.
The signature kolsch was my favorite. Even the sour beer was a pleasant surprise— which I was told is brewed with a tea blend purchased locally from Winterbloom Tea in nearby downtown Fayetteville.
I love the support these folks show their fellow local businesses.
After an amazing beer tasting and brunch, we were off to shop the fabulous vendors of Dirtbag’s Sunday Farmers Market which draws in tons of locals and visitors as it is conveniently located right off of #I-95.
From education of sustainability and agriculture-commerce by Sustainable Sandhills, to bakers, candle-makers, apothecaries, farmers, artisans— there are fabulous products available for all your shopping needs and desires.
Sustainable Sandhills 👇
Some vendors that caught my eye and shopping senses were:
Bread & Sugar by Dali👇
Upcycle Candle Company 👇
Cathis Farm 👇
The Humble Bakery 👇
Parkerhouse Candles 👇
Mariah’s Gourmet Relish 👇
Mustard Seed Arts & Crafts 👇
Paradox Farm 👇
Jackson Farms Produce 👇
Spartan Tusk and Feather Livestock 👇
Purpose Driven Family Farm 👇
There are also tons of recreation activities on site for the thrill seeker in your life. Such as:
VSR (Virtual Shooting Range) https://www.vsrfay.com/
As well as Axe’s & X’s Axe Throwing Range http://www.axesandxs.com/
Overall, I give Dirtbag Ales Brewery three thumbs up 👍 👍👍!
This place seriously has it ALL and should be on your “MUST VISIT” list.
You will be supporting so many wonderful and deserving local businesses and farmers who appreciate quality customer care and creating an engaging community of fun and fellowship.
I will definitely be back soon.
– Alison Paul Klakowicz
Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck
Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Blog and Podcast
Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.