Dingo Dog Brewing Co. | 410 N Greensboro St # 150, Carrboro

The modern craft beer landscape is dominated by hype. In such a packed, competitive industry, it’s hard to carve out space for oneself.

Up-and-coming breweries often chase the latest trends, capitalizing on the fickle desires of craft beer enthusiasts. More than likely, you’ve noticed the steady rise of hazy IPAs, heavily fruited sours, dessert stouts, and, most recently, hard seltzers. There’s even been a trendy offshoot of the hard seltzer craze with “smoothie hard seltzers.”

For a brewery just starting out, it might feel like you’re constantly playing catchup with whatever happens to be in vogue that season.

At the end of the day, though, this is only one model. There are plenty of breweries that have found success forging their own path—and, critically, finding their own definition of success. In Carrboro, that’s exactly what Dingo Dog Brewing Co. has done.

Dingo Dog, which just opened its taproom at  410 N Greensboro Street earlier this year, launched in 2015 as a genuine farmhouse brewery. Situated on PlowGirl Farm on a dirt road just outside of Carrboro, the Dingo Dog brewery began extremely limited production in an old horse stable. The idea of a modern craft brewery might conjure thoughts of gleaming stainless steel tanks, reclaimed wood bars, and wide open floor plans.

Dingo Dog Brewing Co. is not so glamorous. Founder Tim Schwarzauer and head brewer Billy Gagon operate on a vintage brewing system that’s just a step up from homebrewing. They’ve retrofitted the barn to their needs but the setup is still simple. And it works for them.

Before launching Dingo Dog, Schwarzauer and Gagon were avid homebrewers themselves but, unlike wide-eyed enthusiasts who say in unison “we should open a brewery” over a pint of beer, Schwarzauer saw launching a brewery as an answer to a question he had been asking himself lately: “Why can’t a brewery, or any kind of business, generate revenue for a non-profit?”

In 2005, Schwarzauer, who grew up just outside of Jackson, Mississippi, witnessed the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Schwarzauer, his mother, and stepfather assisted in volunteer efforts to rescue stray and abandoned animals, relocating them to temporary shelters and sanctuaries.

Later that year, his family founded the Animal Rescue Fund of MS, a non-profit, “no-kill” animal sanctuary. Schwarzauer then moved from Mississippi to North Carolina, bringing with him a passion for supporting animals and a desire to contribute to that work.

All that was missing, apparently, was the beer.

Dingo Dog Brewing Co.’s motto is “saving lives, one pint at a time.” It’s a cutesy tagline but the small team at Dingo Dog takes it to heart. With each can and keg of beer sold, Schwarzauer was able to build funds to establish the real thrust of the brewing operation: Dingo Dog Charitable Trust, a 501(c)(3).

“Everything after our operating costs gets funneled into the non-profit,” Schwarzauer explains. The foundation was established to set aside grant money for various local animal groups.

Current partners include: Beyond Fences, Paws4ever, Carolina Adopt-A-Bulls, and Animal Park.

Schwarzauer and his team are brewing unique, experimental beers with ingredients grown on the farm or foraged nearby. Plenty of breweries around the country are doing the same, though. What’s novel about Dingo Dog is the space they’ve carved for themselves. Schwarzauer has bucked the trends by fully embracing the small, local, charity brewery model.

Opening the taproom in Carrboro was about as big of an expansion for Dingo Dog as we can expect for quite some time. Schwarzauer is hoping to build up the brewhouse so they can increase production, but for now, that’s it—they’re keeping things small.

“We really just want to be producing enough to sell out of the taproom,” he says. “We’ve become the neighborhood bar. There are people who come by, grab a beer while they’re walking their dog, and keep going.”

Schwarzauer is not looking to build a craft beer empire—he just wants to serve his community, and maybe save a few lives along the way.

“The entire purpose is a moral imperative for me based on my experiences in animal rescue,” he says. “The beer is kind of secondary for us.”  

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