This may be the most popular thing I hear when I go out for a beer. Thankfully, this is not directed at myself or my husband, but rather Dooley, our pet Golden Retriever. He is 75 pounds, burps like a frat boy, is always laying in the way and is the biggest ham you will ever meet.
Rescued several years ago, he loves nothing more than relaxing with his humans and the (more than) occasional treat. He is the ultimate beer bar companion.
Fortunately, living in Los Angeles (Pasadena, in our case), almost all of the craft beer heavy hitters are “dog-friendly.” This means that we can bring Dooley out with us to a particular restaurant or beer bar, and dogs are not only allowed but are welcomed.
With an increase of bars and restaurants with patios, allowing pets at the outside tables is a growing trend. People want to bring their whole family, Fido included, and sidle into a patio for a leisurely afternoon. If you have a furry friend and are considering bringing him or her out with you for your adventures in craft beer, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind.
KNOW YOUR DOG
First and foremost, is your dog a social dog? The ideal bar dog is one who can relax after a period of initial excitement, keep his or her cool around other dogs of varying sizes, not lunge for passing food and restrain himself when it comes to issues of the bathroom. It may sound like a tall order, especially if you have a young pup or a dog you just rescued, but it is worth giving your dog the benefit of the doubt. Try it out at a bar or restaurant with a big patio during a slow time in the afternoon, around 2-4, or on a Monday where traffic will be minimal. Chances are, once your dog gets used to the vibe, he will be a ready companion.
As for the issue of the bladder, many dogs can go several hours without having to go to the bathroom. If yours is not one of said dogs, be sure to have a nearby place in mind that you can take a quick walk to to allow your dog to do his or her business.
Naturally, the main element of dog-friendliness in a bar or restaurant is that you should be able to take your dog with you. Some bars and restaurants require your pup to sit on the other side of a gate, but still can be close to you. Others will have huge patios where your dog can beg for your food right next to you.
Not sure about a particular venue’s dog seating? It is worth giving a ring as sometimes there are only a few tables with accessible areas for your pup, and the last thing you want to do is wait too long when you could be enjoying a nice saison.
Once your seat has been secured, try to get your dog as close to an open area as possible so he can sniff around and stretch out. We hook our leash around the table leg and through its handle before attaching it back to Dooley’s collar so he can’t go anywhere.
[Disclaimer: if your dog is big, fast or strong, make sure your table will hold steady if your dog decides to go for a surprise jaunt! We have had a few near misses, which surely would have ended in comedic disaster.]
Many places will bring a bowl of water out for Dooley, which is a really polite way of saying “we love dogs here.” Business benefit? If Dooley is happy slurping up water on a hot day, we can happily slurp up more beers into the afternoon.
While dog bowls are a nice perk, we never assume that there is going to be one provided, even if they have been before. If it is a hot day, be sure to bring a disposable paper bowl or portable dog bowl just in case. We are a big fan of The Handi Drink, which is compact and attaches to a water bottle so you can be extra prepared.
Or, if you want your dog to share in the tasting, you can even offer up this dog-friendly, alcohol-free Bowser Beer. As you can see, Dooley is a fan.
Many dog-friendly restaurants in our area also have a waitstaff that happily engage with us (and Dooley). We will chat about their love of Goldens, the dogs they have at home, or shared thoughts on shedding. One bar even brought out a plate of bacon for Dooley, which left him one happy fuzzball.
The best thing you can do under all circumstances is keep your pup out of the main path of food busing, lest a big furry tail trip someone carrying 6 plates. This is where we shamelessly use bribery to ensure Dooley lays as far back out of the way as possible in this particular setup.
I LOVE when we bring Dooley out and end up meeting other patrons, either because they want to pet Dooley, to introduce their dog to ours, or to reminisce about a dog they miss. A favorite memory is when one man asked my permission to give Dooley a french fry and, every time I turned my head after (so I was later told by my husband), he slipped Dooley an extra fry. By the end of the night, my dog was laying sprawled out under his new best friend, ready to go home with his gracious hero.
As with the waitstaff, it is most important that you are tuned into people’s feelings. We are lucky in that Golden Retrievers are a very accessible dog breed in general, but some people get skiddish around dogs, especially big ones. If someone looks nervous, it is best to keep your dog from walking around your table toward them for the sake of general harmony. This is where knowing your dog undoubtedly comes in the most handy! Generally, though, most people at dog-friendly establishments will simply smile at your dog and perhaps offer her a treat.
SO, WHERE TO?
There are several sites geared specifically to finding dog-friendly establishments, but I am partial to a good, old-fashioned Yelp search. Suggestion: “Dog-friendly (bar / beer / restaurant) near (desired location)”. Be sure to scan the reviews to get a good sense of the dog vibe.
To get you started on your puppy pub crawl, here are some of our favorite places in Pasadena to take Dooley.
Congregation Ale House | 300 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
Puppy Perk: Perhaps our most frequented dog-friendly venue, Congregation has a large patio, brings out plenty of water for the pups and often has canine clientele. You will have to go inside to order your first round, so something to bear in mind if your dog is anxious when you step away.
Food & Beer Notes: An ever-changing beer list offers dozens of delicious local and specialty beers on tap. The food is a great selection of burgers, flatbreads and typical pub fare, and I heartily recommend the roasted artichoke and the pub pretzel with beer-cheese sauce (I mean, come on!). Mondays are all-day happy hour, as well – can’t beat it.
Stone Company Store | 220 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
Puppy Perk: You can take your dog right into this Stone store while you get a drink or a growler, as well as join other beer fans on the patio. There is a bowl with water inside, not to mention delectable (if Dooley’s voracious appetite can be the judge) Stone Bones for your pup to snack on.
Food & Beer Notes: There is no food for sale but, let’s face it, it’s Stone. You are there for the beer, anyway. If you plan to enjoy your beer over the course of several hours, you can also order Luggage Room pizza to go from across the street and hang on the patio (see below).
The Luggage Room | 260 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
Puppy Perk: When eating outside for dinner, the patio has heated lamps and plenty of room. There are lots of dogs walking by who like to stop and say hello.
Food & Beer Notes: The pizzas here are spectacular, and the housemade pepperoni added to any pizza is a must if you are a meat fan. Even as a generally anti-salad type, the kale quinoa salad is maybe the best salad I have ever had. Craving beer? There is $5 corkage for all Stone growlers purchased across the street. Feeling wine-y? Wine Wednesdays feature half of bottles of wine.
Gus’s Barbeque | 808 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030
Puppy Perk: Gus’s has an amazing waitstaff who loves coming to say hi to Dooley and bring him water. Also, Gus’s has a presumably delicious sidewalk (if evidenced by the amount Dooley licks the ground).
Food & Beer Notes: While serving a variety of tasty craft beers, I will have to stray and recommend the Kentucky Lemonade. Mint lemonade with bourbon? Yes, please.
Where are YOUR favorite places to take your dog? Let us know, along with any dog tips I may have missed!