For this blog we wanted to write about something fun. I figured I should write about two things I really love. After much brainstorming I decided you probably would not be excited to hear about my family, or my daughter’s swim class, so I decided on dogs and beer (Although I will admit, a 2 year old’s swim class is about the most fun any father can have). I have had dogs ever since I can remember, and being a veterinarian, I figured this was a relevant topic. I started brewing beer about 5 years ago with a good friend, at a time when my favorite beer was still Newcastle brown ale. As my wife and I got into the craft beer scene, we noticed how many of the breweries allowed pets, or even had pets of their own at the tasting rooms. That is how this blog came to mind, and it was not surprisingly a really fun topic to research. I met some great people, tasted some great beer and wine, and met some really cool dogs. I hope you have as much fun meeting these dogs as I did, and I really hope that the next time you stop in at one of these places you will make sure to say hello to their soon-to-be famous pups!
Mike Hess Brewing—Bear
Bear, actually Bear The Magnificent, is a 2-year-old, male, Black Labrador Retriever. I have personally known Bear since he was a puppy, and he was the first brew dog I met when we lived and practiced in San Diego, CA. Bear has many important jobs within the Hess family. Bear helps drop the kids off at school in the morning before stopping at the park to play fetch to allow him to burn off some energy before his day at Mike Hess Brewing (if he does not get his daily exercise he can be a real handful). He usually keeps an eye on the production from the operations office, where he has his own dog bed (a Tommy Bahama beach chair). He occasionally likes to sneak out towards the cold box and production area to see if any of the brewers are eating anything, because if there is anything as important as brewing beer, it is snack time.
Bear loves the production of good beer, but stays away from the finished product (he has heard that hops are actually toxic to dogs—another blog to follow eventually). He loves the first runnings of wort though, which is the sweet liquid before it is actually beer. The first runnings are actually the strongest of the wort, they have the highest maltose content, and do not yet have any hops added (a little piece for all the beer brewers reading this). Bear can generally be visited at the main brewery (North Park) every day during working hours, until about 2:30pm. If you do not see him walking around the brewery with Lynda (the COO and Bear’s mom) greeting everyone, you can ask one of the beertenders to meet Bear (he loves to meet new people).
Mike Hess Brewing locations are all dog friendly, and they regularly host fundraisers and adoption events at the brewery and tasting rooms. Just this past month they hosted Greyhound Adoption Center, Labs and More Rescue, and Next Step Service Dogs (which trains dogs for former military members suffering from PTSD). I have known the Hess family for years, and I know how important their dogs are to them, and that shows in how dog friendly they have made their business.
Mike Hess Brewing has some exciting new beers in the works for this summer. They will be releasing three new canned beers this summer that I cannot wait to try. Watch for their grapefruit IPA, an American Craft Lager called Steel Beach, and a Little IPA named 4:59 (as in, it’s almost 5 o’clock). They are rolling out brand new packaging for their line this summer, and will now have 12 ounce cans. On July 29th they will be holding their 7th Anniversary Party/Beer Festival featuring 20+ great breweries, live music, and games. If you are in the San Diego area you need to stop by this brewery, and if you are in Northern California you need to try their beer the next time you see it at a restaurant, tasting room, or store. I will admit that their Grapefruit Solis is one of my favorite beers of all times, and is a must try for any IPA lover. Next time you stop in make sure to say hello from me, and give Bear a good pet for me. I love that guy!
Meet Bruin—The Steven Kent Winery
Bruin, better known as Bu, is a 9-year-old, male, yellow English Labrador Retriever. He is a Livermore native, and can often be seen walking the vineyard (The Steven Kent Winery) with his companions, or politely nudging visitors on the patio to play fetch. Bruin is an Instagram star, and although I hate to admit it, he has about 2,300 more followers than I (He is significantly more photogenic). Bruin is obsessed with his blue ball, and loves swimming and playing in the snow (although he is not quite sure how he feels about the sweaters his mom has been making him wear up in Tahoe). Bruin makes everyone smile, and most of us could only hope to live a life similar to this lucky canine.
Bruin would love for everyone to come and visit him at The Steven Kent Winery sometime soon. The winery has two dog friendly patios that are perfect for enjoying a bottle of the 2014 Cabernet Franc, or his companion’s favorite wine Lineage, which is known for its layers, structure, and complexity. The tasting room is open 7 days a week from 12:00-4:30pm, except on major holidays, and there is a special Reserve Room that can be reserved if desired. During the summer the winery has parties on the patio with live music and a food vendor, which make it a perfect place to hang out with your pooches, but make sure you check the website first as it is not every weekend.
Bruin would like everyone to know about the Pooches on the Patio event they will be having this year on Sunday, August 13th. There will be vendors selling pet merchandise, pet charities (the winery personally supports numerous local charities, including the Oakland Zoo), a great pet photographer, and of course food, music, and delicious wine! I have known Bruin for a couple of months now, and I can tell you that he is an incredible dog. If you have not yet met this guy, make sure you stop by the winery and give him a pet, and play a quick game of fetch. Bruin has also made sure that all the pets feel welcome by ensuring the winery always has water bowls on the property for the visiting pets.
Meet Citra—Altamont Beer Works
Citra is an extremely photogenic 3-year-old, female, poodle/shih-tzu/schnauzer/yorkie mix that was adopted from the East County Animal Shelter in Dublin, CA. Citra’s name is reference to a hop variety, which is fitting being she is the brewery owner’s personal brew dog. Citra’s morning starts off with a drive to the brewery, where she gets to hang her head out of the car the whole way. Once arriving to the brewery she makes sure to check on her brew dog companions, Jake and Lola. She greets all of the staff members one by one, eats any extra malted grain off the brewery floor, and heads outside to make sure that all the other dogs still know this is her brewery. She then usually takes a nap on her chair in the office to ensure she is ready for her long day as canine hostess. I can tell you that she takes this job very seriously, as I have seen her climb over her gate to welcome guests to the brewery.
Citra is not a true beer lover, but does enjoy lapping up a bit of Nutty Operator (delicious peanut butter stout) if it happens to drip on the floor, but she knows any true beer lover will love the beer they produce. Citra would love to have everyone come and visit her at Altamont Beer Works Monday through Friday. I can personally tell you that the brewery has created an incredibly welcoming environment for canines and beer lovers alike, and I would recommend everyone stop in if you have not visited this Livermore brewery. In true dog lover form, they also partner with local animal shelters for fundraising events, and even sell cool dog schwag at the brewery.
Altamont Beer Works is the first brewery in Livermore since prohibition. They have a beer garden that is seasonally open on Friday-Sunday. They have great food vendors outside on Friday-Sunday (The South Smokin” BBQ is a must try), and some amazing beers. The beertenders know their beers, and the environment is fun and relaxed. I personally am a huge fan of the Shot Away IPA, and Green Collar Pale Ale. It is rare for me to rave about pale ale, as I am an IPA guy personally, but the Green Collar is truly exceptional. You can also see Altamont Beer Works at the Livermore Craft Beer Fest, and the Livermore Wine Country Downtown Street Fest this year (this weekend), as they are the major sponsor.
Meet Lola and Jake—Altamont Beer Works
Lola is a 4-6-year-old, female, pit bull that was rescued from Modesto by one of the brewers at Altamont Beer Works. Lola is a great representative of this so often misunderstood breed (we have two in our family!). She is kind and gentle, and in true pitty form, appears to love cuddling up on her bed and relaxing with her friends Jake and Citra while at the brewery. Lola’s companion says she loves meeting new people, running, and cuddling. Her typical brew day involves greeting all of the employees to ensure that morale stays high in the workplace, and then supervising the group from the comfort of her bed. She is a sweet dog, and we think she has found the perfect home.
Jake is a 6-year-old, male, lab/pit bull mix that was adopted from a friend of one of the brewers. Jake is very important at the brewery as he takes the role of ensuring kegs are filled correctly, and occasionally enjoys a little quality control. Jake even makes sure the employees stay fed and happy, as the other day he walked next door and came back with a napkin and a slice of pizza to share. His tastes are not completely refined yet, but he appears to have a preference for the dank flavors and tropical notes of Maui Waui and Hella Hoppy when they occasionally happen to get on the floor (I like this dog’s taste!).
Lola and Jake would both love to make some new friends, and have you all stop by and say hello. Lola can be visited at the brewery on Fridays, and Jake can be visited Wednesdays and Fridays. They are both also happy to have any well behaved, and leashed canine friends stop in and visit as well. The weather is starting to warm up, and there are some fresh, hop-forward beers being released soon (Mr. Nice Guy and Ganja Juice), so make some time to go check these guys out. Bring your dogs, bring your appetite, get ready for some incredible beer, and tell them Ohana Animal Hospital sent you!
Meet Sadie and Gunner—Eight Bridges Brewing
Sadie is an 11-year-old, female, miniature dachshund, and Gunner is a 1-year-old, male, chocolate lab. Sadie has been with the brewery since its inception, and Gunner is a new addition to the brew team. Sadie and Gunner are both the official greeters at Eight Bridges, and they make sure to greet everyone who passes through the doors when they are around. Gunner is usually at the brewery every day with his brewmaster companion Justin, and loves to play tug-of-war if you see him. Sadie has started to take a bit more time for herself as she has aged, and comes in when she feels she needs to check on operations (typical canine business owner). She still does make appearances though, and still occasionally tries to snag a bite of an unsuspecting toddler’s sandwich or pizza when the opportunity arises.
Eight Bridges has been working with the Tri-Valley Humane Society for the last couple of years hosting fundraisers, donating items for auctions, and even holding a “Name a Beer after your Dog” fundraiser. On Saturday, June 17 they are holding a fundraiser at the brewery to support the Tri-Valley Humane Society, and will be renaming one of their beers Ruby, who was the winner of the “Name a Beer after your Dog” fundraiser this year (Such a great idea, and next year there is no way I am not bidding).
Sadie and Gunner would love for you to come and say hello at Eight Bridges Brewing, try some amazing beer, and support this dog friendly establishment. All friendly dogs are welcome to visit the tasting room with their companions, and can usually even get a special snack from the secret stash of dog treats. Gunner recommends you taste the O’Beardsley Stout as it is full of chocolate aromas and flavor. Sadie, in true German style, thinks the Golden Nektar Pilsner should make it into your tasting flight (also Debbie’s favorite beer, and if you want a good story ask her about this beer sometime). The last time I was there I really enjoyed the Hoppy Salvation, which is a great example of a west coast IPA, being very hop forward with some great floral and citrus aromas wafting from the glass.
The brewery holds Brewzza Palooza the 3rd Saturday of every month. They have a food truck out front, and live music in the late afternoon. There is not always a food truck, but they have menus for all the local delivery places, so it is very easy to find some good food to go with your beer. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday, and you can check their website for hours. We love this place, and we are sure you will as well. Just make sure you keep food close because Sadie is watching, and if she sees the opportunity, she may just help you eat your lunch.
This has been my favorite blog so far, and I look forward to doing a second series as I meet more local animals. I want to personally thank all of the above breweries and wineries, as they made this a really fun experience. All of these establishments are doing things the right way, and I highly recommend you all check them out. Thanks again for reading, and if you see Dr. Jennifer Hacker or myself (Dr. Zach Steffes) when you are out tasting make sure you say hello.