Chattanooga Beer Brewer Expands To Dog Biscuits

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - by John Shearer
Ben Whitelaw with Barley Bones biscuits.
Ben Whitelaw with Barley Bones biscuits.
- photo by John Shearer

Chattanoogan Ben Whitelaw has started a new business venture that has literally gone to the dogs – in a good way.

The 34-year-old recently began selling at several local businesses his Barley Bones-brand dog biscuits, which he believes provides good health to both man’s best friend and the environment due to the recycled food products used.

Using locally sourced, all-natural products made from beer-making wastes, he already has the products placed in four diverse local businesses.

“It’s been going pretty good,” he said. “It’s been steady growth.”

The McCallie School and University of Tennessee graduate’s idea for the product developed over several years. A local commercial brewer, he started his business after trying to figure out what to do with the spent grain used in the brewing process, other than just throwing it away.

As a result, he came up with a concept of developing dog treats that would possibly provide some green for him in the form of income and be green for the environment.

Although the concept was relatively simple, perfecting an ideal recipe was not. As he learned, much time was required to figure out what leftover products to use, and how to best dry them after they became moist in the brewing process.

“Originally it started about four years ago, and I started getting more serious about three years ago and worked on different recipes for dog biscuits,” he said.

He also wanted to develop a dog biscuit that stays together, is tasty to a dog and is healthy, and has an adequate shelf life.

What resulted was an all-natural biscuit that has spent barley, organic rye and organic oat flour, but no wheat or corn. It also has as many locally sourced ingredients as possible and regularly comes flavored with peanut butter or cheddar cheese, with such flavors as sweet potato and honey also now being introduced.

“The whole concept was to be an old general store dog biscuit,” he said, adding that he is not trying to focus on the boutique-style dog biscuit market. “I wanted really simple recipes.”

Just as developing the suitable recipe for the dog biscuit was not easy, neither has been trying to develop an ideal wholesale marketing plan.

His first big opportunity, he said, came earlier this year when the Blue Plate/Local 191 near Ross’s Landing voluntarily offered to hand out samples and sell the bags of the Barley Bones treats at their dog-friendly establishment.

The gesture gave him not only some help, but an idea as well.

“That sparked in me that I should focus not only on retail establishments, but also dog-friendly establishments – places with patios that allow dogs,” he said.

“And I see the dog-friendly locations as a great way of connecting the product with the intended customers. They (the dogs) get to experience the product in a relaxed environment. This is great because often dogs will not eat a treat when in an unfamiliar or busy environment.”

Later, he was able to start selling the treats at the Moccasin Bend Brewery in St. Elmo, which allows dogs in its beer-tasting room. As a result, the dogs get to enjoy some barley and rye while their masters enjoy some hops!

Being able to sell the product at the Moccasin Bend Brewery caused his marketing strategy to be tweaked yet again.

“That’s the kind of thing I’ve wanted to focus on,” he said. “Anybody who takes their dog to a bar or restaurant, that’s the target market. They are going to pay attention to what their dog eats.”

And more recently, he was able to sell the treats in his first retail store establishment – the natural pet supply store, Nooga Paws, at 2 North Shore – as well as Pruett’s Signal Mountain Market.

Mr. Whitelaw, who said he is starting to meet people who know him as the one who makes dog biscuits, said he has been pleased with the way the business is going.

He has a website (www.barleybon.es) and is optimistic about future growth.

“It’s kind of like a snowball slowly rolling down the hill,” he said. “We’re still at the top of the hill, but I feel like were at the point it’s starting to roll.”

Jcshearer2@comcast.net

 

 


Shop Rite Places 1st In Walker County Chamber Of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament

Seventeen teams enjoyed a beautiful day of golf at the LaFayette Golf Course for the Walker County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Golf Tournament.  First place honors were awarded to Shop Rite while second place went to Georgia Power and third place to Flegal Insurance. Men’s Longest Drive went to Elijah Parker of First Volunteer Bank, Women’s Longest Drive went to Tracey ... (click for more)

Farmers Insurance Names Chattanooga Agent Drew Sill To Presidents Council

Farmers Insurance agent  Drew Sill  has been named to the national insurer’s Presidents Council, the Los Angeles-based insurance company announced.  Membership in Presidents Council is  an elite honor for the insurer group’s  top  one- percent  of agents and district managers . “On behalf of the thousands of Farmers agents, district ... (click for more)

Police Chief Says Community Will Have Input On Placement Of Crime Cameras; To Be Tied In With New Real Time Intelligence Center

Police Chief Fred Fletcher said Tuesday that the community will have input on the placement of cameras designed to deter crime. He told the City Council at a budget hearing that the cameras are part of a Real Time Intelligence Center designed to quickly analyze crime patterns so officers and detectives can react faster and with more knowledge about the situation. Chief Fletcher ... (click for more)

Robbery Arrest Made After Victim Gets New Replacement Phone And Pics Of Robbers Are Uploaded To New Phone

A robbery arrest was made after the victim got a new phone and then had pictures from her stolen phone uploaded to the new phone to her Cloud account. Among the pictures uploaded were photos of the robbers. The female victim identified Seth Benjamin Hardnett, 18, of 1703 E. 14th St., as one of the robbers from the incident on April 12. Hardnett was charged with aggravated ... (click for more)

Colonel Enicks Is Turning Out Leaders At Red Bank High School

I am a former teacher and football coach at Red Bank High School. I have been a witness to the great things that happen at Red Bank High School.  The teaching staff has a great mixture of experience and promising new teachers.   Dr. Robertson, the principal, is a great man and a wonderful role model for students. He shows up the same way every day and his consistency ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Hot Rod’s Catfish Dinner

It could well be the best part of playing a prank is in the delicious moments until your “fish” takes the hook. So yesterday afternoon, as I tried repeatedly to talk to a man I haven’t spoken to in 27 years, rather than leave my name I popped off the Happy Birthday song in a snappy, loud way and then ended it with a simple, “Call me,” adding my number. John “Hot Rod” Talley spent ... (click for more)