June 19, 2013 Updated: June 19, 2013 at 12:23 pm
Beer and dogs.
Why do they seem to go together so well? Why is man's best friend so well-loved by makers of man's favorite beverage?
Four years ago, one Colorado Springs family set out to answer that question. Their book, "The BrewDogs of Colorado," told the story of the dogs that spend time at Colorado craft breweries and the brewers who love them.
After nearly selling 4,000 of the 5,000 printed, the authors will be travelling the state this summer, gathering research for the sequel, expected to be published this fall.
"Not everybody who has a dog drinks beer," co-author Becky Bennett said. "But most people who drink beer have a dog."
The entire family, including Bennett's husband, Brian, and her daughters, Kristen and Lauren Olson, created the first book after visiting Napa Valley and seeing dogs at wineries, entertaining tourists and weeding out pests. As lovers of Colorado craft beers, they came up with the idea for their coffee table book.
"We thought, we're the Napa Valley of beer. We've got to have a beer dog book," Bennett said.
"And every brewery has a dog, hanging out in the back or running around," Kristen Olson said. "We met very few brewers who had cats instead of dogs."
Maybe it's the fact that, in Colorado, many craft beer lovers also enjoy the outdoors, and there's few better places to take a dog. Maybe it's that having a dog around a brewery is good company and good public relations for customers.
For many brewers, the family learned, dogs are integral parts of their operations. Take Colorado Springs' Bristol Brewing Co. Owner Mike Bristol's yellow Lab, the late Camden, is featured on the label of his best-selling beer, Laughing Lab. Avery Brewing in Boulder has Ellie's Brown Ale, named for the late Ellie. New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins has Mighty Arrow, for the late Arrow.
Bristol said Camden served as an unofficial "underage drinking watchdog" at the brewery, warmly welcoming everyone except children, whom she would bark at incessantly.
"I think the brewer-dog relationship comes from the idea that brewers are generally a laid-back sort who gravitate toward having a loyal companion, and the relaxed, casual brewery culture allows brewers to make them a part of their branding, bring them in to work with them, and express their fondness for their best friend in other ways as well," said Bristol, who now has another yellow Lab, Halifax, as the face of the franchise.
One of the reasons for launching a second book is that many of the dogs in the first have died and brewers are interested in memorializing them or showcasing new dogs. Plenty of breweries have opened in Colorado since 2009 as well.
The first book featured 70 dogs from 37 breweries. It's sold at breweries and by the authors, who peddle it and other merchandise at a dozen beer festivals each year.
While the term "brewdog" might imply the dog enjoys a cold brew - and many do - the authors insist on page 7, "No dogs were harmed or intoxicated in the production of this book."
So is there one similarity among all the "brewdogs?"
Said Brian Bennett, "They all like to chase squirrels."
Rappold writes about the local beer scene every other week in Food.