PHOTO CREDIT: Olds Boys’ Brewhouse, Spring Lake by Grand Haven Tribune.
By Joe O’Connell
You step outside and your eyeglasses immediately fog up. You break a sweat simply by walking to the mailbox. Mowing the lawn sounds like an undertaking akin to building Rome. All you want to do is stand in the back yard, drink a refreshing Michigan beer, and run the frigid water from the hose over your head. When it’s time to walk your canine friend, it might also mean that she or he wants to turn around and head back home before reaching the end of the driveway.
Ah, the dog days of summer.
That phrase, however, doesn’t actually have anything to do with real dogs. Instead, it has its roots in ancient Greece when the star Sirius, or what the Greeks called the “dog star”, would rise just before the sun. The time of year when this would happen coincided with what, in that part of the world, were then typically the hottest days of the year. Over time, this evolved into us referring to our hottest, late summer periods as the “dog days of summer”.
If we could speak the same language, dogs might tell us that they’re relieved to learn that they’re not actually associated with such miserable weather. After all, they are man’s best friend. And for dog people, that old adage makes all the sense in the world. Among the many reasons: they love to play with us, they help us to exercise, they listen without interrupting (usually), they bring us comfort in our times of sorrow, and they provide companionship, loyalty, protection, and unconditional love. We love dogs so much that we even have National Dog Day, which is celebrated annually on August 26 to encourage their adoption.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), about 3.3 million dogs enter shelters in the U.S. each year. Michigan shelters alone took in about 66,000 dogs in 2016. So if you’re looking for a pooch, there are plenty patiently waiting for you to take them to their forever home!
One happy “tail” has a connection to Michigan breweries. Earlier this year, Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue in Grand Rapids convinced Michigan breweries to sponsor a puppy after the shelter took in a mother who had a litter of thirteen! It didn’t take much convincing as the breweries happily jumped at the chance to make a donation and name their sponsored pup. Hearts of Hope is happy to report that all but one (one sadly passed away from a birth defect and surgery complications) have been adopted. The mother of the thirteen, Harmony (whom the shelter named after Michigan’s Harmony Brewing Company in Grand Rapids), is expected to be available for adoption by late October/early November.
So, when it’s time to step up, it’s clear that Michigan breweries don’t need to be hounded. And when it comes to expressing their appreciation for our canine companions, Michigan brewers choose not to roll over. This can also be seen in their beer names and beer label artwork. Some of the beers taste so good that they may give you “paws”. The list below should give you a start on what to try, but if I’ve missed any please don’t bark at me – making comprehensive lists can be “ruff”! Anyway, what are you waiting for? Go fetch one of these tasty brews!
Naboo Coffee Stout, Eternity Brewing (6%) Named after the family dog, Naboo. And yes, Naboo herself is named after Queen Amidala’s planet in Star Wars.
Devil Dog Oatmeal Stout, Roak Brewing Company (8.5%, 45 IBUs) A tribute beer for the WWII K-9 fighting unit. It’s a full-bodied and hearty stout with notes of coffee, chocolate, and toasted oats. Brewed in honor of our nation’s finest soldiers – on two feet and four – Roak gives back a portion of the proceeds from all Devil Dog sales to their local VA hospital in Detroit.
Hans’ Golden Tripel, Fenton Winery & Brewery (9%, 10 IBUs) This brew has sweet aromas and flavors, a hint of spice, and can be a thirst quencher because of the balance in flavors. Named for their beloved German Shepherd, Hans, Fenton Winery & Brewery donates 10% of all proceeds to Adopt-A-Pet Fenton.
The Hef Hefeweizen, Frankenmuth Brewery (5.2%, 17 IBUs) Featuring Frankie the Dachsund on its label, this refreshing German style Hefeweizen is top fermented, unfiltered and lightly hopped to achieve its smooth, pleasant flavor and unmistakable cloudy appearance. The Hef’s sweet hints of clove and banana will certainly treat your palate. 2016 World Expo of Beer Competition Gold Medal Winner, for Best German Wheat! For a bit of history on the brewery’s imagery of Frankie the Dog on their “dog-gone good beer” labels, click here.
Bam Bière Farmhouse Ale, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (4.5%, 24 IBUs) Named for the brewery’s Jack Russell, who struck by a car, bounced back in fine tenacious Jack Russell fashion. This farmhouse ale is brewed for those of us who knocked down, have picked up, dusted off, and carried on undaunted. Golden naturally cloudy, bottle conditioned and dry hopped for a perfectly refreshing balance of spicy malts, hops, and yeast.
Snoring Basset Brown Ale, Pigeon Hill Brewing Company 5.9%, 45 IBUs Snoring Basset Brown Ale – 5.9%, 45 IBU – A hoppy brown ale, Snoring Basset is brown in color with ruby edges and a light tan head. The aroma is well-rounded, with lightly hoppy citrus notes balanced by malty caramel notes. Medium-bodied, the beer begins with toasty caramel and chocolate flavors, but ends with a slight hoppy finish.
Old Siberian Winter Ale, Cranker’s Brewery (7.3%, 50 IBUs) Tames the brutish northern winter with its full rich flavors of caramel and dark fruit. It is rich and expressive, malt forward, and begs to be enjoyed in front of the fireplace. This is a terrific beer to drink this winter, or age in your cellar and allow it to develop further for years to come. Let Old Siberian become on of the bright spots amid our long frigid winters.
Beagle Brown Ale, B.O.B.’s Brewery (6%, 30 IBUs) A classic British Brown Ale, medium bodied, with wonderful coffee, bread and toffee notes, and a delicate Michigan hop influence.
Donkey’s First Batch Altbier, Sister Lakes Brewing Company (5%, 41 IBUs) The beer that started it all! This German style amber ale is a tribute to the brewery founders’ very first batch of homebrew, brewed in 2010 with their Siberian Husky brewdog, lovingly referred to as “Donkey.” RIP, Donkey.
Edward’s Portly Brown Ale, Witch’s Hat Brewing Company (5.4%, 30 IBUs) A malty, chocolatey, and robust brown ale named after the brewery’s beloved Springer Spaniel. A portion of the proceeds from this beer have been donated to the Humane Society of Huron Valley since the brewery opened! Donations to date to HSHV total over $10,000!
Old Boys’ Brewhouse With beers like Pointer Pilsner and Dogtail IPA, this brewery, located in Spring Lake, has dedicated its entire operation to dogs. OBB attributes its canine-oriented theme to the influence and memory of a Chocolate Labrador, “Brutus, the snake, Malone”, AKA Old Boy. Old Boy touched the lives of his family and friends with his gentle demeanor, attentiveness, unique eating habits (catching fish out of the lake, for example), and most of all by his ability to interact with humans. It is that special bond humans form with their dogs which Old Boys’ Brewhouse, Inc. wishes to celebrate.
These beers, among many other Michigan beers, should be a tasty treat for you – but not for your dog! Remember that beer is toxic to dogs and so are hops, so be sure not to let your pup ingest any amount of either. Instead, consider getting her or him some Michigan brewery swag, like a collar or a bandana!
With 248 breweries and counting, “The Great Beer State” of Michigan ranks sixth in terms of number of breweries with craft beer having an over $1.8 billion impact on Michigan’s economy, according to the Brewers Association. The variety and quality available here provides every reason to Drink Michigan Beer®!
When not at his day job of being a budget and policy analyst, Joe O’Connell exploring all things beer is a top interest of his. He has been a homebrewer since 2010, earned his craft brewing certificate, volunteered at numerous beer festivals, and is a co-organizer of the second-longest-running beer festival in the United States