The origin story for just about every brewery is someone saying he was making beer at home for friends, got good feedback, and decided to start trying to make money off of it.
Not so for Tim Schwarzauer, who opened North Carolina’s only nonprofit brewery last month. He has no plans to quit his day job as a grant coordinator for the Town of Chapel Hill as he opens a Carrboro brewery that doubles as a charitable foundation.
“Ultimately, our goal is to prove that this business model actually works,” he said. “And I think it’s already true of North Carolina that the brewing scene is pretty tapped into the community.”
Although there are some brewers who will joke they’re a nonprofit, just not on purpose, Dingo Dog Brewing Co. is the first in the state to officially be a charity in the IRS’ eyes. In fact, it’s one of just a handful in the whole country. It won’t have to pay income taxes, and in return it will have to give all the money it makes to charity.
There’s a nonprofit brewery in Portland, Ore., called Ex Novo. There’s Finnegans Brew Co. in Minneapolis. And there’s Potosi Brewing Co. in Wisconsin. Beyond those three, Dingo Dog might be the only other one.
Their causes range from food banks to historical building rehabilitation to Syrian refugees. Dingo Dog will support no-kill animal shelters, a cause close to the heart for Schwarzauer and his co-founder, a 16-year-old St. Bernard mix named Dingo. Billy Gagon is their head brewer.
Schwarzauer’s family started a shelter in Mississippi shortly after Hurricane Katrina left many pets abandoned in its wake. He later moved to North Carolina, got into the craft beer scene and decided to combine his loves of homebrewing and animals.
Dingo Dog won’t be doing any rescue work on site. Health inspectors wouldn’t like that. Instead, it partnered with local groups and will also begin giving grants to no-kill shelters all over the state, once it’s solvent.
After that, goals include getting a winery permit so they can brew cider, and finding a place the public can visit. Right now there’s no taproom, so you’ll have to go online (dingodogbrewing.com) to find their beers. The brewery itself is at PlowGirl Farm, where they take produce for the beers and give back waste from the brewing process for use in the fields.
The beers currently on tap at local bars and bottle shops include a habenero and honey pale ale, and an English brown ale brewed with roasted butternut squash. On deck are a blackberry wild ale, an Irish red ale and a wheat ale with tomatoes and peppercorn.
Other beer charity
It doesn’t take a 501(c)(3) designation to make a brewery charitable.
The most recent data from the Brewers Association shows that in 2014 alone, the American craft brewing industry gave $71 million to charitable causes. That’s an average of $20,664 per brewery.
Just the other day, the 919 Beer team, who puts on the annual Beericana festival in Holly Springs, donated $10,000 from festival proceeds to a local group that’s trying to build a playground in town for disabled children.
And it doesn’t have to be donations of money, beer or volunteer hours. A few weeks ago I wrote about Big Boss Brewing Co. letting N.C. History Museum employees come out and pitch the museum to the weekend crowd.
Even a brewery whose business structure is the complete opposite of Dingo Dog’s is getting in on the charity game. Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone is a publicly traded company (listed as HOPS) but it also helps fund a nonprofit called We Can So You Can. Locally, they donate to the Triangle Land Conservancy.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran
Here are a few upcoming events at Dingo Dog Brewing Co.:
▪ From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dingo Dog will be in Mebane at Paws4Ever, for the animal sanctuary’s annual PawsFest fundraiser. There will also be food, games, a 4k race and more. Info: tiny.cc/pawsfest2016.
▪ Oct. 14: Dingo Dog will be at the Growler Grlz bottle shop in Durham promoting the Coalition to Unchain Dogs and soliciting donations of pet food and accessories. Info: facebook.com/dingodogbrewing/events.
▪ All this week, Bottle Revolution RDU in Morrisville is co-hosting events with Google to celebrate the advent of Google Fiber in Morrisville, the first town in the area that will get its super high speed internet. Each day until Friday, there will be different draws like rare beers, giveaways, sales and maybe even some free beer. For the day-by-day details go to facebook.com/BTLREVRDU.