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Bowser Beer Helps Dogs Beat the Heat

Now man's best friend can be your best drinking buddy.

Bowser Beer, America's first beer for dogs, is cooling collies and hydrating hounds in Minnesota.

You don't even have to check IDs -- what's the legal drinking age in dog years? -- because it has no alcohol.

"It's for the celebration of the dog days of summer," said Derrick Kunes, interim marketing manager for Axel's Bonfire restaurants.

Kunes gave away samples of the doggie-brew last summer at the Paws on Grand festival in front of the Grand Avenue restaurant and plans to do it again at the festival Aug. 5.

"People go crazy over this," he said. "They are so intrigued."

The Seattle-based company that makes Bowser Beer was started by Jenny Brown.

In 2008, she was making pretzels for dogs -- coated with peanut butter and molasses -- at local fairs. After a while, the idea hit her. "It just seemed like the dogs would want a beer with their pretzels," said Brown.

But regular beer is hazardous to dogs. The hops are toxic, dogs don't like the bubbles and alcohol is harmful.

After more than a year of research, Brown formulated a flat meat-broth mixture with barley. She added vitamins and a bit of glucosamine, for healthy joints.

She created two flavors -- Beefy Brown Ale and chicken-flavored Cock-a-Doodle-Brew.

She has tasted both flavors but recommends that humans stick with Budweiser.

"It's flat, like drinking sweetish broth," she said.

The canine beer hit the market last year.

"It

was an instant hit," Brown said. "This works because people love to pal around with their pets."

Brown offers custom labels, with a photo of a particular dog.

The labels include the name of the brew -- usually a pun or family in-joke. Some favorites of hers include "I Don't Give a Shih-Tzu Brew" and "Liquored-up Lacey's Pooch Hooch."

Brown sold one batch dedicated to guide dogs for the blind, naturally named "I Only Have Eyes for You Brew."

Some pet owners put the beer into bowls for

their dogs. Others freeze it in ice cube trays, for their dogs to lick.

"I mix it with pumpkin and pour it over my dog's food and call that Thanksgiving dinner," Brown said.

She said most of the beer is sold through her website, Bowserbeer.com. She wants to sell more beer in Minnesota locations, but for now it's only available at Bubbly Paws, a dog-wash and -grooming business in St. Louis Park.

Owner Keith Miller sells it for $2 a bottle. Even if customers don't buy it, said Miller, they are curious about the beer.

"They pick it up, and they are not sure what it is -- is it alcoholic or nonalcoholic?" Miller said.

The beer has inspired Miller in several ways.

He is making a dog-themed lounge for the Gay Pride Festival on June 23 and 24 in Minneapolis' Loring Park. Miller will be selling Bowser Beer for dogs, who presumably will be sitting like barflies on stools.

"It's going to have a bar with beer taps in it, and a disco ball," Miller said about the lounge.

And to perk up the heat-drooped tails of dogs passing by?

Miller plans to combine ice cream made for dogs with Bowser Beer, creating the first root-beer float for dogs.

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