Chattanooga Beer Brewer Expands To Dog Biscuits

Wednesday, December 05, 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

 

 


Compass Auctions To Auction Custom Motorcycle

Compass Auctions and Real Estate announced that the Auction Firm has been selected to host both the online and live auction of a one-off custom KTM 450 in cooperation with RedBull Media House to benefit the Kurt Caselli Foundation.  “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a unique piece of history,” said Steven Holt, vice president of Compass. “It ... (click for more)

LBMC Gains Bryan Mattice

LBMC, PC, one of the Southeast’s largest accounting and business consulting firms, has added Bryan Mattice to the Accounting and Assurance services team. Bryan Mattice, CPA,   serves as a staff accountant serving a variety of industry clients in the Accounting and Assurance service team. Mr. Mattice comes to LBMC from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee where he worked ... (click for more)

Two North Shore Sold To Pennsylvania Real Estate Firm For Almost $24 Million

The Two North Shore commercial development on Manufacturers Road in North Chattanooga has been sold to a Pennsylvania real estate firm for  $23,983,363. Steve Arnsdorff, who developed the successful center from the ground up and has continued to manage it, said the deal closed last week. He said the sale for the property at 319 Manufacturers Road is to Stoltz Real Estate ... (click for more)

Lookout Valley Middle High School Closed Friday Due To Water Main Break

County school officials said late Thursday night that LookoutValley Middle High School will be closed Friday due to a water main break. Officials said, "This is an official message from the Hamilton County Department of Education to the parents, faculty, and staff of Lookout Valley Middle High School.  Please accept our apologies for the lateness of this message. "Due ... (click for more)

Thanks For Publishing The Stokes Photo Book

I pre-ordered the Stokes Photo Book and picked it up Wednesday . The covers and content are very high quality and contain photos you will not see anywhere else.  This book of photos is worth much more than $35.  I have seen many historic photos of my hometown Chattanooga, but this collection is amazing. My favorites are National Cemetery, Confederate Cemetery near ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)