A Day at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom, Farmers Market

“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

http://www.dirtbagales.com/

#sponsored

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.

http://hayatyogadance.com/

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.

Well done!

http://www.graybillhospitality.com/

“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 👇

https://sustainablesandhills.org/

Some vendors that caught my eye and shopping senses were:

Bread & Sugar by Dali👇

https://www.facebook.com/breadandsugarbydali/

Upcycle Candle Company 👇

https://upcyclecandlecompany.com/

Cathis Farm 👇

https://cathisfarm.com/

The Humble Bakery 👇

https://www.facebook.com/thehumblebakery/

Parkerhouse Candles 👇

https://www.instagram.com/parkerhousecandleco/

Mariah’s Gourmet Relish 👇

https://www.instagram.com/mariahsrelishes/

Mustard Seed Arts & Crafts 👇

https://www.facebook.com/tmsaac/

Paradox Farm 👇

https://www.paradoxfarmcreamery.com/

Jackson Farms Produce 👇

https://jacksonfarmsproduc.wixsite.com/jacksonfarmsproduce

Spartan Tusk and Feather Livestock 👇

https://www.facebook.com/locallygrowncleanmeat/

Purpose Driven Family Farm 👇

https://www.facebook.com/pdfamilyfarm/

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

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

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.

I’ve died and gone to pie heaven.

Pie heaven exists.

Seriously.

And, it is right here in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

I mean— straight up culinary wizardry—make your mouth water at a simple whiff of the carb-elicious, magnificence headed your way.

It’s called Fayetteville Pie Company— and it is sooooooo dang good, y’all!

The “slap your preacher” kind of good, btw.

The sad part— I am so late to the party!!! It took me almost THREE YEARS (from the restaurant opening) to go and try out all this awesomeness.

I know.

Shame.

Shame.

Shame!

BUT, I’m happy to report I have since been several times and cannot wait for more PIE!

I know all of North Carolina is still losing their minds over small town North Cackalacky, sweetheart Vivian Howard’s southern gourmet exposure.

But I’m here to say, move over Chef and the Farmer! And give Fayetteville Pie Company a front row seat at the table!

Helllllooooo, James Beard Award!

Seriously! These folks are baking geniuses.

The simplicity of the ever evolving menu right down to the mastery of the {always} perfectly golden baked pie crust— to the symmetry, and enticing intermingling of local Carolina fare with new and exciting blends of flavor will make you want to return over and over again.

And, eat every morsel to the very last drop of crumbly deliciousness left on the adorable personal size pie tin.

This is me… smiling on the outside and inside because I am so in love with this baked perfection which puts a new twist on old favorites such as chicken pot pie and tomato pie by incorporating Southern and Eastern Seaboard favorites such as pulled pork barbecue. AND, of course it is served with tiny dessert pies that make your taste buds sing.

Not to mention it is quite the love note to all things NC to include this fabulous map of our state’s colonial beginnings.

The restaurant even features gorgeous visual artwork of local creatives such as photographer and visual arts professor at Fayetteville State University, Shane Booth.

I just cannot say enough wonderful things about this foodie jewel hidden in the Sandhills of Central NC.

According to the restaurateur’s website: https://www.fayettevillepiecompany.com/press, the owner and visionary behind it all, Leslie Pearson, it came to be by way her rural upbringing in Missouri where her grandmother 👵🏻 taught her the love of pie. Old black and white photographs as well as as handwritten recipe cards are framed and displayed to provide a nostalgic nod to her inspiration… her grandmother.

Leslie, thank you for sharing your talents and memories with us all. North Carolina is proud to be your home. And my belly thanks you.

If you would like to visit this Fayetteville Phenom, look 👀 here:

Your innermost pie dreams will engross you with glee and delicious fillings.

Now go get you some pie 🥧!

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Hodge Podge Podcast/Blog: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram: @alisonklak

Twitter: @KlakowiczAlison

Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Artisan, Milspouse and Proud North Carolinian

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a 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.

Contentment Found at Gillis Hill Farm

Five years ago, my family found a treasure tucked away on a winding country road on the edges of Cumberland County, North Carolina not far from our home in Fayetteville.

A sacred place where we would find contentment, quiet moments of togetherness and joyful, sugar-filled hikes along green pastures and wooded trails.

Five years ago, we found Gillis Hill Farm.

At the time, I knew it would become a special place in our Sandhills journey. But, I did not realize the void it would fill in our hearts.

Overtime, it became a sanctuary where we could escape the hustle and bustle of daily routines, military family woes, and a busy city life.

And, just be a family wandering the grounds of a simple, beautiful farm.

With the purchase of {a multitude of flavors} homemade, ice cream served in a cup or waffle cone— as well as daily fresh baked goods (we highly recommend the brownies 👍😋), you can peruse the terrain of the eighth generation family owned and operated contentment farm.

Our favorite spot to savor the delectable cold, sweet treat (or other delicious goodies) is along the screened porch of the old farmhouse office and bakery— gliding on white rockers overlooking the grounds bursting with azalea and hydrangea blooms that have welcomed visitors for many years each spring.

I have introduced friends and family to “the farm” over the years— to share this magical place with loved ones in hopes it might serve them a bit of the joy my family has gained from its fertile and safe harbored grounds much like my country roots— and the porches where I rocked with my grandparents during hot North Carolina summers.

Gillis Hill opens to the public each spring and closes in late November— we are always so sad to see it close for the winter.

Alas, I begin to stalk their Facebook pages in March each year to see if there are postings of when our favorite local hideaway will welcome us back.

AND, Lo and behold… LOOK 👀 what I found on their FB page today:

WOOHOO!!!! April 1st cannot come soon enough! 😃

I am like a toddler on a sugar high!👆👆👆

I cannot wait to pack up my family and friends, and haul them out to Gillis Hill Road!

If you are new to the area or are looking for a perfect place to spend a spring day in Central NC, make this a MUST on your destination list. You won’t be disappointed (If you are, then you need to re-evaluate your priorities. 🤔 Just sayin’ 😂)!

Plus, you are supporting a local family farm!

To find out more information about Gillis Hill Farm, visit their Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/GillisHillFarm/

To contact them, look 👀 here:

And, mark April 1st on your calendar!!!

We will see you at “the farm!”

Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a 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.