From the Blue Dog Tavern to Good Dog Bar and Flying Dog Brewery, there’s no doubt that we Americans love our dogs so much we weave them into the names of our favorite watering holes. Surprised? When you consider the traits that make our pups so loveable, we can’t help associating those same traits to the places that connect us with friends and relaxation.
The overall beer market in the U.S. brings in $100 billion of revenue each year. Craft beer alone is a $33 billion industry which accounts for 360,000 jobs in the market. And standing firmly next to that figure are the cool 61-billion bucks that Americans spend on their pets each year. By comparison, the wine industry brings in $36.3 billion in total retail sales. No wonder we name our beers and our bars after our beloved dogs. Admiration of our best friend and best beverage anchors the two together in American culture.
Dogs have been used for friendship, protection, service, and even for therapy. Dr. Charles Mayo, of Mayo Clinic fame, introduced his trusted companion, Smokey, to wounded soldiers during World War II to cheer them up and facilitate their recovery. Doctors found that our human brains respond favorably to this man-dog connection, releasing oxytocin, the bonding agent, and dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with reward and motivation. Cortisol, a stress hormone, decreases around our companions. We like the idea of having Fido represented in the beer world.
What kind of dog lover are you? Do you find that you like beers that have the same traits as you find in your beloved Max? Powerful and sturdy, big attitude, big personality, or with stamina and strength? If this is what you crave, go on a tasting spree to find the right companion to match your personal outlook. You can find a dog of every style:
Coconut Rum Barrel-aged Old Leghumper, from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company of Akron, Ohio – American Porter of 6.7% ABV – Rummy raisins and dark fruit swim in a malty base with a bit of smoke and dancing carbonation that titillates the tongue.
Howler and Howler Equinox from Black Husky Brewery of Pembine, Wisconsin – A pair of outstanding Double American IPAs of 10.2% ABV – The glistening, ruby bodies of these siblings show-off sweet malts with highlights of candied orange and honey and accents of citrus, pine earthiness, and those oh … so … distinctive Equinox hops. If you are prone to howling, you’ll love the elegance that lets you call to the moon.
Yorkshire Terrier English Bitter from York Brewery Company, Ltd. Of York, North Yorkshire, England (UK) – English Bitter at 4.2% ABV – The cap of this little yipper uses a “Walk the Dog” date in place of a “best before” calendar call. Yorkies may not be known for their large heads, but this one sports a big cap over a warmly-lit orange body. Caramel flavors dominate an overall biscuit profile, while a resiny, floral hoppiness finishes dry in the back.
Turbodog from Abita Brewing Company of Abita Springs, Louisiana – English Brown Ale of 5.6% ABV – Inviting friendship with its blend of crystal, pale and chocolate malts, this even-tempered, dark brown ale emits aromas of dark chocolate within a base of toffee and a balanced 28 IBUs.
Scotch Terrier Scotch Ale from Blue Cat Brew Pub (meow!) of Rock Island, Illinois – Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy of 7.3% ABV – A characteristic sweet toffee and caramel richness rolls out of the rich malty middle, with warmth calling you into the den for some fireside comfort.
Ridgeback Ale from No Label Brewing Company in Katy, Texas – American Amber/Red Ale of 6.7% ABV – A home-baked bread foundation lies sweet and spicy in the foreground, with hints of pine accenting the overall warmth in the back of the throat. A highly drinkable companion at the end of the day.
Adam from Hair of the Dog Brewing in Portland, Oregon – Old Ale of 10% ABV – As a resurrected, historic style from Dortmund, Germany, Adam was the first launch brewed by Hair of the Dog, propelling it into the hall of classic beer styles. Malty, with dark fruit notes and a chocolaty brown head, this Old Ale slams the head with alcohol and cocoa beans. If you like an assertive dog, Adam is sure to be your pal forever.
Cherry Wooferweizen from Sleepy Dog Brewery of Tempe, Arizona – Hefeweizen of 4.8% ABV – Infused with cherries, this German hefe is hazy with classic yeast, hints of banana, cherry, and clove, making a big splash in a pool of luscious quenchers. Look for other winning buddies from Sleepy Dog: Wet Snout Milk Stout, St. Bernard American Barleywine, and The Belly Rub Tripel.
Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale from Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, Maryland – Pale Ale of 5.5% ABV – As one of many classics from the Colorado brewery that came East, Doggie Style carries a pleasure-chest of balance between sweet malts and citrusy, resin-rich hops. Dance with it, while you ramp up for a follow-up pint of Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA at 8.3% ABV and heat that travels from your head to your toes.
As a classic favorite, the Black Lab seems to reign supreme with a triple-shot of style, enough to satisfy any connoisseur of spirited love.
Black Lab Stout from Big Dog’s Draft House in Las Vegas, Nevada – American Stout of 5.5% ABV – If you love a mix of the best personalities of the breed, this blend of nine malts, roasted barley, coffee and cocoa will fit the bill. Mouth-watering, roasty flavors emerge in a dominant base with a frothy head, flavors of brown sugar, and a chewy body that calls for pork, beef or a hearty bison-burger companion.
Black Lab IPA from LAB (Lexington Avenue Brewery) of Asheville, North Carolina – American Black Ale of 6% ABV – Call it Black IPA, Cascadian Dark Ale, or American Black Ale, if you like. Any way you call this pup, it will run to you as an ebony pleaser of roasted malts and bittersweet chocolate, wrapped in a finish of herbal and citrusy hop bitterness. A friend for life!
Black Lab Porter from Middleton Brewing of Wimberly, Texas – American Porter of 6.5% ABV – A dark walnut body of malt and chocolate shakes-off a rich head of creamy tan, while dark fruit, cherries and plums lay quietly in the background, like sweet comfort from an old friend.