Barks and Brews: Being a dog owner for a day

If there are two things it seems that all Denverites love, it’s beer and dogs. In fact, they go together so well in Denver, that bars such as Bark Bar have opened specifically as dog-and-beer destination locations. I know my way around a tap house pretty well, but I do not own a dog. So, while dog sitting for some friends in mid-July, I took the opportunity to see what it’s like to go out drinking with a dog.

Zissou (Photo Credit: John Mogos)

Zissou (Photo Credit: John Mogos)

The dog in question is Zissou. She’s a (roughly) 6-year-old rescue, looks like a mix of a boxer and a lab, and weighs about 40lbs. She has known me since she was a pup in Austin and is a complete sweetheart. She is friendly to both dogs and people. I could not ask for a better four-legged drinking companion.

For our first outing, I wanted our destinations to be walkable from my house, so I chose Prost Brewing Company and Denver Beer Company. I am not a regular at either location, so it was nice to be a complete “outsider” with a new dog. With leash, cash, and poop bags in hand, we set out.

After a short walk, we arrived at Prost Brewing Company (2540 19th St) at 7:30 p.m. Prost specializes in German beers and they have a great dog-friendly outdoor patio with views of downtown. From a dog’s perspective, Prost has everything: shade, water bowls, plenty of free pets. And, the small, grassy park next door makes for a sufficient dog run – take your dog over to throw a frisbee or put some poop bags to use.

My friend Gordon met us at Prost. He does not have a dog, so it was just two dog-less guys hanging out with Zissou. There were no other dogs at Prost when we arrived, and less than 10 people on the patio, so the attempt at discovering the hype of dog socialization amidst human socialization was feeble, at best. Gordon and I had a few liters of beer and sat outside to catch up on life. Zissou had a few dog treats and sat in the shade next to us. We sat near the front doors to Prost, and nearly all of the patrons coming and going stopped to chat and pet Zissou.

At around 8:15 p.m., it started to look like rain, but Zissou, Gordon, and I made the decision to press on. Zissou does not talk, but when I asked her, “Should we get more beer?” she cocked her head sideways and wagged her tail. I took that to mean “yes”. We paid our tab and started the short walk over to Denver Beer Company on Platte Street at 17th Avenue, a nice walk across the pedestrian bridge from Prost.

When we arrived at Denver Beer Company, it was quite a different scene from Prost. There were roughly 50 people at DBC, and five other dogs, ranging from young to old, pocket sized to miniature pony (new bucket list item: meet a large dog named “Lil Sebastian“). We went inside (where dogs are definitely allowed), and ordered up some beers. Palming our first round, we headed outside to grab a seat under the hop vines. As usual, everyone around wanted to meet Zissou and know more about her. After a few minutes in the cool evening air, the wind picked up and the clouds decided to open up on us. On cue, all of us fled from the outdoor patio to the indoor bar area. Humans and dogs were packed inside, shoulder to shoulder, tail to tail. Quick laughs were had, new conversations were started, and butts were sniffed. It rained right up until closing time, and then somewhat miraculously, let up just in time for us to depart. Through it all, the only bad experience we had was when an older man wearing ostrich skin cowboy boots probably worth more than my first car, upon walking past Zissou said, without a hint of humor, that we needed to make sure to “put her on lockdown”. Sure, buddy, right on it. With the rain gone, we headed home.

(Photo Credit: Denver Beer Co.)

(Photo Credit: Denver Beer Co.)

It was a great night out for Zissou and I. Prost gave us a nice patio with great views, and Denver Beer Company provided a great social excursion for man and dog.

That Friday, Zissou and I went out again. This time, we headed around the corner to Diebolt Brewing. It was a family affair, with my mom and step-dad in tow. We stepped in the door at Diebolt, and Dan Diebolt, the owner, quickly looked up and said,”We don’t allow pit bulls in here!” I quickly quipped back, “You know Zissou’s not a pit bull!” I’d fallen for the set-up. Dan smirked and said, “I wasn’t talking about the dog, I was talking about the owner.” Needless to say, they know me at Diebolt. Dan poured us some pints and we grabbed a table by the door. We sat and enjoyed our beers, all the while Zissou lay in the sun at the front door, taking full advantage of all of the extra attention that she could get by the door. We finished up our pints, waved goodbye to Dan, and headed home.

I had a great time drinking with Zissou. Just like a shared common interest in running, or having an ostentatious mustache, a dog is a great way to meet people and start conversations at bars. The other dog owners I met were always friendly and cheerful, and everyone seemed to enjoy Zissou’s company. For a week, I experienced a “could be” lifestyle for me. For a brief instant, I saw the life where I worked in one place, had a dog, had a schedule, and lived life a little more slow and deliberate. And you know what? It wasn’t half bad, I can definitely see the allure. However, for now, and for the foreseeable future, I still prefer a life without reservations. That said, I will never turn down an opportunity to dog sit Zissou, especially if I can bring her out on the town. It’s all of the fun and (almost) none of the responsibility, what’s not to love?

What is your favorite thing about bringing your dog to the bar? What are your favorite dog-and-drink locations? Let us know in the comments below.

About John Mogos

John brews beer (very unprofessionally) and keeps a very well stocked wine cellar. He's been to Belgium and Napa, but he is not pretentious, at least he likes to think so.