Fayetteville has a love for good hometown beer and with Fort Bragg’s influence, it’s a no-brainer that four area breweries are veteran-owned. That’s because many veterans decide to continue serving the community by opening their own business.
We are big fans of North Carolina’s beer scene and want to highlight these four thriving veteran-owned breweries in Fayetteville. Hopefully, you’ll share our appreciation for these awesome spots to sip responsibly the next time you’re in town.
This post is part of our series on North Carolina Food & Drink, the awesome city of Fayetteville, and more places to visit in Eastern North Carolina. We also included these places in our guide to a weekend in Fayetteville.
We originally created this on September 3, 2019, and have kept it updated as of October 16, 2019.
Veteran-Owned Breweries in Fayetteville NC
Special thanks to the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for sponsoring our trips to these breweries throughout multiple stays. All opinions within this article are our own.
Support Our Entrepreneur Toops
Did you know that veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than civilians? Many veterans learn valuable skills while serving, including discipline, organization, and community service.
These are also the markings of great leadership in business. And supporting veteran-owned businesses is a simple way to thank them for their service to our country.
Dirtbag Ales Brewing & Taproom
5435 Corporation Dr, Hope Mills
A visit to Dirtbag Ales in Hope Mills will give you an experience that goes beyond their amazing beers. Events throughout the week include yoga, music, and a Sunday farmer’s market!
And in case you’re wondering where the name came from, it’s a nod to veteran owners Vernardo “Tito” Simmons-Valenzuela, Jerry Hall and Eric Whealton, who profess to be real dirtbags.
They are stellar people, but to be a real innovator they prefer breaking rules to following them. That’s part of why Fayetteville really likes these dirtbags, but the love is mutual.
As they explained, “What we love about Fayetteville is how diverse a community is and how much the people want local businesses to succeed.”
Their humble beginnings in a hard to find hole-in-the-wall led to many successes. Dirtbag now calls their impressive brewhouse complete with a playground and pavilion.
There’s also a regulation-size soccer field, volleyball court, fenced-in dog park, and delicious on-site restaurant Napkins. It’s the delicious beer that’s responsible for this comfortable community environment, though.
And as far as the brews go, Dirtbag is best-known for their Blood Orange Kolsch. However, they continue to push the envelope and make new beers in their own Dirtbag-y way!
Bright Light Brewing Company
444 W Russell St
Bright Light Brewing Company serves up delicious microbrews and serves as a great spot to meet downtown. Step inside and you’ll find a kid- and dog-friendly space, a large back patio out back, and a rotating lineup of local food trucks.
Bright Light began as an idea that owners Mike Ray, Eddie Ketchum, and Chris Greive discussed over a couple of beers. Ketchum and Greive served together in the United States Army and they met Ray through the Fayetteville brewery scene.
Together, they took their wild idea from a dream to a place for the community to come together and enjoy great beer.
Bright Light Manager Sarah Canaski says that when veterans come back to the towns they grew up in or even served in, it’s great to see them open a business and contribute to it. In her words, “They believe in what they fought for and when patrons support them…It means just as much as the yellow ribbons hanging on your doors.”
To the Bright Light, “Fayetteville is home. This town has come a long way from ‘Fayette-Nam’ and we’re proud to be a part of the expanding community.” BLBC hosts events like trivia, live music, and even partners with Axes & X’s Axe Throwing Range whose mobile ranges allow ax-throwing on site.
These are just a few of the ways the Fayetteville community enjoys Bright Light. And you can, too, when stopping by and grabbing a pint.
Lake Gaston Brewing Company
124 Hay Street
It might seem odd to have a brewery called Lake Gaston Brewing Company in Fayetteville. Even though its namesake sits a couple of hours north on the North Carolina-Virginia border, Lake Gaston’s peace and tranquility are important to owner and veteran Darrin Jones.
Jones is a veteran paratrooper of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and his brewmaster, Troy Rassmussen is a Green Beret who started brewing in 2004 when he got a “Mr. Beer” brew kit.
LGBC is about creating memories, enjoying friendships, and kicking back like you would at the lake. Being a locally owned business is important for the community.
Troy explained to us, “I think it’s important for communities to support all small businesses and am happy that so many here support veteran-owned small businesses.” While sitting inside the lake-themed taproom, sip on the Lake House Brown or their award-winning Dew Drop Lavender.
That’ll make it easier to pretend you’re sitting dockside at this Fayetteville brewery!
Huske Hardware House
405 Hay Street
Some folks don’t think of Huske Hardware House as a brewery in Fayetteville, but we just can’t leave out the city’s oldest brewpub. Not only has Huske been fermenting yeast on Hay Street since 1996, but the building itself also has a long history in Fayetteville.
Found on the National Register of Historic Places, Huske was built in 1903 and remained a hardware store for 67 years.
Today, Huske Hardware brews rich, full-flavored beer in their American made, stainless steel, 15-barrel brewing system that you’ll see when walking inside.
Savor a pint of their Level Headed Blonde and chow down on a burger while there. And while sitting down, you can easily think back to the early days of Huske Hardware House during the early 20th century.
One Honorable Mention and Final Thoughts
Before we get back to dreaming about these awesome breweries in Fayetteville, we can’t leave out Mash House, which was started by veterans and changed hands later on. When thinking back on these places, one thing stands out to us.
It took a village to start these breweries. Eric Whealton of Dirtbag Ales explained they couldn’t have created this dream without local support, even from fellow veterans.
He went on to say, “The veteran community would not let us fail, whether it was going out of their way to patronize us or offering volunteer work when we had no real staff.
We are proud of the local and veteran community that continues to support us and in turn, we strive to be something they can be proud to have in Fayetteville.”