Halifax “barktender” serves up craft beer for dogs
Posted on August 03, 2021 | By Simon R. Smith | 0 Comments
Craft beer enthusiasts in Atlantic Canada and across the country can now have a pint with their pooch thanks to a Halifax company’s decision to start brewing beer for dogs.
Cindy James started Crafty Beasts as a side project to her dog daycare business, Petite Urban Pooch (PUP) in Halifax’s North End. James is the “head barktender”.
James bought PUP in 2016 and, shortly after, was forced to move to a new location where zoning laws specified she must have a retail operation in her facility, she said. “I didn’t want to get into traditional retail products, like food and leashes and collars and things like that,” James said, adding that she began looking at similar businesses in other countries to see what retail offerings they had.
After some research, she came across a beach bar in Croatia which served what they called dog beer and thought, “What could that possibly be?”
So, James started experimenting with different ingredients in her kitchen, using food scraps to make a broth and filtering it into plastic bottles with homemade labels bearing the product’s original name, Hair of the Dog. She later changed the name to simply, Beer for Dogs and sold it at various dog-friendly events in Nova Scotia.
“What I began to understand [is], it sits very well with other craft beer products,” she said. “Even though it’s a pet product, it really is an experience that people are seeking. So, the product started to morph into more of a craft-style beer for dogs and marketed towards the experience that people were looking to share with their dogs.”
The beer itself is, of course, non-alcoholic and James says it’s “super nutritious,” with its ingredients, such as bones and vegetables, sourced from diverted food waste from local farms and food producers.
After getting more of a feel for the market for dog beer, James realized she needed to make some changes if she wanted to get her product into serious retail markets, like pet stores and local bars and restaurants. “It needed to have a professional look and feel to it,” she said. So, she reached out to Craft Coast Canning in 2019 to discuss whether they could put her product into a craft beer can.
“I met with them and they loved it,” she said. “They loved the product, they loved the concept and they wanted to really discuss a strategic partnership with me versus just canning my product.”
The two companies have since partnered up to form Crafty Beasts, making dog beer in Nova Scotia and canning it at Craft Coast’s facility in New Brunswick.
“Using the word, beasts, means we can go into other markets as well,” James said, adding that she’s started thinking about potentially brewing a cat cider.
Crafty Beasts’ sole product, the uncarbonated Fetch Canine Pale Ale, can be found in all of the Atlantic provinces at pet stores and breweries and in Ontario and Alberta.
“We’re on a growth pattern, right now, to move it across Canada,” James said, adding that she’s also been in talks with distributors in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
– Photos by Horizon Eye Photography
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