If your name is Barley, it’s safe to assume that you are somewhat of a beer connoisseur. And that is definitely the case with the Corgi/Husky mix that goes by the name of Barley the Brew Pup. After rescuing him from a local California shelter, Kristl Caron and Chris McGinnis began posing their dog with a variety of their home brew beers. The pup then began to join the couple on their many road trips and accompanied them to breweries across the nation.
After realizing that he had a knack for posing for the camera, Barley’s parents started dressing him up in sunglasses and t-shirts and sitting him next to a variety of beer bottles. As his Instagram page began to garner a following, they stepped it up a notch and tailored Barley’s costumes to match up with whatever craft beer he was endorsing.
Barley, of course, doesn’t actually drink any alcohol himself but he does love to accompany his owners on their beer excursions. He also hangs around in the kitchen to supervise Kristl and Chris while they create their own microbrews. Barley is especially a fan of the grain byproduct that gets released during the brewing process, as his owners use it as an ingredient in homemade dog treats, which he loves. PawCulture caught up with Barley’s pet parents to discuss how the four-legged beer aficionado came into their lives, his tips for selecting a good craft beer, and which dog-friendly breweries he recommends.
PawCulture: How old is Barley?
Kristl and Chris: Barley is roughly 3 years old.
PawCulture: Where did you get him?
Kristl and Chris: We got Barley from a rescue group that was within a mile of our house back in California. He was picked up off the street as a small pup (4-5 months) in central California. Somehow, our local rescue group was contacted to take him, which was a blessing. We had been looking for a pup for a few months. Our last dog was a Norwegian Elkhound named Barkley. He was Chris’s dog since childhood. After he passed of lung cancer, we started looking for a pup to help fill the void in our hearts. Kristl found Barley online while Chris was out of the country. She fell in love with him right away and set up a meeting. She took pictures and videos and told the rescue group that Chris was out of the country and would need to see the videos/talk with him before we make the decision. Chris immediately fell in love with the little pup and Kristl picked him up the next day.
PawCulture: How did the whole “Barley the Brew Pup” sensation come about?
Kristl and Chris: Barley the Brew Pup started as an Instagram handle to help consolidate the thousands of photos Kristl was taking. It was a place for the family to check in on him at first. It wasn’t until Chris came home a few weeks later that he realized that people enjoyed seeing Barley with various beers and costumes. He tried to pair quirky write-ups with the photos to keep people interested.
PawCulture: What makes Barley a craft beer expert?
Kristl and Chris: I think people gravitate to the quirky write-ups more than the beer reviews themselves. There are literally thousands of beer reviewers out there, but seeing a Corgi/Husky in sunglasses just makes it better!
PawCulture: How did he get his start posing with beers?
Kristl and Chris: We started with home-brews at first but it quickly blossomed into including commercial craft beers as well. We have met so many awesome people through Barley’s Instagram account.
PawCulture: And he serves as the spokesdog for your own homebrew beers? How did that come about?
Kristl and Chris: Chris had been home brewing for about a year before we got Barley. Barley ironically has helped Chris’s career by first allowing him to reach out to several breweries in the Bay Area to help with their social media and ultimately landing him a job as a brewer here in Boise, Idaho.
PawCulture: In addition to posing with your brews, Barley travels to breweries with you. How many breweries has he been to so far?
Kristl and Chris: We don’t have a total tally of breweries Barley has been to, but it is easily over 50. We love that the craft beer world is so dog friendly.
PawCulture: Which breweries are his favorites?
Kristl and Chris: Barley loves Six Rivers in Arcata, California and County Line Brewing in Garden City, Idaho. Both brewery owners are big dog advocates.
PawCulture: What are the best dog-friendly breweries that Barley has visited?
Kristl and Chris: 21st Amendment in San Leandro threw a “Dog Pawdy” in Barley’s honor. Lots of local shelter pups showed up. It was a fun night.
PawCulture: What inspired you to start dressing Barley up in muscle shirts and sunglasses, etc. for these pics?
Kristl and Chris: Originally it was Kristl’s idea to dress Barley up but he seems to respond better to Chris so most staged pictures are done by Chris. We try to think about what the beer is and what costumes will work best. We get most of our props at the dollar store, as Barley sometimes likes to chew on the props.
PawCulture: What are his favorite outfits to wear?
Kristl and Chris: He is always comfortable in a shirt and glasses. It’s almost as if he knows when its show time.
PawCulture: Does Barley benefit from the home brew process at all?
Kristl and Chris: We have documented Barley “helping” in the brew process but we don’t actually have him get too close to the equipment. One nice part of brewing is you get a byproduct called spent grain. It’s literally malted Barley that has had all the sugar taken out. We have used it to make dog treats that Barley loves!
PawCulture: Do people at the breweries know Barley by now?
Kristl and Chris: We have had several people recognize Barley. It’s always funny to see people get excited to meet Barley and then realize wait, there are humans attached to him. We get messages all the time as if Barley was really writing the posts himself.
PawCulture: For the craft beer novice, what are some tips on how people can learn to appreciate craft beers?
Kristl and Chris: Our biggest tip is to keep trying. There are literally thousands of different types and styles of beers out there. Not everyone is a big beer drinker, but there is a beer out there for everyone. We are big advocates for trying local first. It seems more and more small breweries are popping up and producing better, more exciting beers. Sure there are a few good macro beers, but generally the local guys are making better beer.
PawCulture: Are there a few good starter craft beers that people can pick up at local supermarkets that Barley recommends that they try?
Kristl and Chris: You can’t go wrong with Sierra Nevada and Deschutes. You can find them most everywhere.
PawCulture: When he’s not traveling to breweries with you, what does Barley enjoy doing?
Kristl and Chris: Barley is a big loaf. He spends most of his day napping, chasing squirrels, and chasing the pesky cat from next door.
PawCulture: Anything else we should know about Barley?
Kristl and Chris: The irony of Barley is that he is actually very allergic to alcohol. This includes sanitizes, perfumes, and other cleaners. Alcohol is very dangerous for pups and should never be given to them. Everything you see is staged and we are ready to scoop him up if he attempts to drink any (although we keep him focused with treats).
*Never offer your dog any type of alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is toxic to dogs and should never be consumed, even in small amounts.
All images courtesy Barley the Brew Pup