The dog days of summer aren’t so bad when you’re cracking open a cold one on your patio with your canine companion. You read that right: Beer for dogs is officially a thing, and I couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to trendsetters Mutts & Barley, a five-month-old Saratoga County business. Founded this past February by neighbors/entrepreneuers Danielle Shanahan and Tori Munn, Mutts & Barley brews nonalcoholic, nontoxic dog beer and makes dog treats from the leftover (or “spent”) grain and other fresh produce. Mutts & Barley recycles 100 percent of its ingredients, which it purchases from farms in Upstate New York, and partners with local breweries to turn their spent grain into those all-natural dog treats.
Shanahan and Munn’s brainchild came about as naturally as their products’ ingredients did: Munn’s husband threw some spent grain from his home-brewing project in the yard, which their aptly named dog, Molson, happily licked up. Shanahan, who lived next door, made a joke about brewing beer for dogs and using the excess ingredients for dog treats, and the rest is (relatively recent) history!
Shanahan and Munn might be new to the game, but they take their business very seriously; the two are involved in every step of the production process, making certain that everything they add to their products make their and others’ dogs happy and healthy. “We just love the idea that we’re able to use everything, so there’s no waste,” says Shanahan. It’s certainly environmentally friendly, but the process is also incredibly time-consuming. “We work with some of the local breweries and pick up grains from them; that’s the main ingredient,” says Munn. “Then we add flour, eggs and our fresh vegetables and fruit, and then bake it.” The most important step? The treats need to be thoroughly dried to prevent mold from forming on them, an hours-long process that Shanahan and Munn have perfected after quite a bit of trial and error. Says Shanahan: Learning how to do the process right “took a long time, but if it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It’s hard work, but we just have so much fun with it.”
The beer and treats are currently only sold online (the two founders are hoping to change that soon!), but it appears that Mutts & Barley don’t really have much by way of competition out there in cyberspace—or even of the brick-and-mortar kind. Regardless of competition or a lack there of, Shanahan and Munn are glad to be based in Saratoga County, because “Saratoga loves their beer and dogs,” says Shanahan. “I said to Tori the other day, ‘Can you believe we’re actually doing this?’ It’s been a lot of fun because we get to meet lots of different people from all over and play with their dogs, which is the best.”
Get to know the Mutts & Barley team at the Adirondack Iron Dog Walk/Run on August 4, or at their “Yappy Hours” around town. Check the company’s Facebook page for their complete schedule of upcoming events.