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

 

 


2015 Audi Chattanooga Hole-In-One Winner Is George Gannaway

Audi Chattanooga and Bowers Automotive Group sponsored hole 17 and the associated Hole-In-One Competition at the Metropolitan Ministries 2015 Annual Golf Tournament on May 11. Competing in a field of over 100 golfers, George Gannaway sunk a Hole-In-One, winning a new 2016 Audi A6. Ginny, his wife, has claimed co-ownership because she had recently given George his new golf clubs. ... (click for more)

Northwest Georgia’s Unemployment Rate Declines To 5.8 Percent In April

The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that the unemployment rate in the Northwest Georgia region for April was 5.8 percent, down four-tenths of a percentage point from 6.2 percent in March. This is the lowest the rate has been since April 2008 when it was 5.3 percent. The rate in April 2014 was 6.7 percent. The rate declined as employers laid off fewer workers. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Loses Bicycle National Championships To Winston-Salem

After a three-year run, Chattanooga is losing the national championship bicycle races. Winston-Salem, N.C., has been selected to serve as the host city for the 2016 and 2017 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & TT National Championships. The 2016 Volkswagen USA Cycling Pro Road & TT National Championships will be held May 22-30. The nine-day event will combine the ... (click for more)

County Jail Employee Charged With Posing As Doctor To Steal Drugs From Local Hospitals; Epperson Is Suspended; Erlanger Says Safeguards Worked

An employee of the Hamilton County Jail has been charged with posing as a doctor so he could steal medicine from local hospitals. Police said Ryan Epperson was wearing hospital scrubs when he was caught in a secure area of Erlanger Hospital on Wednesday by a Walden Security guard. In his pockets were found a crushed bottle of Demerol and a syringe filled with fentanyl. A search ... (click for more)

The Truth About The Rising Costs To East Ridge On The Fire Hall Property - And Response

Re:East Ridge Has To Pay Unexpected $428,000 On Bass Pro Shop Deal   H ere is the truth about this article.    One section of the article says: " Unknown to anybody on the council today, the agreement limited use of the land to a fire hall."     In a letter dated Dec. 15, 2010, Mayor Lambert asked TDOT officials to ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: I Know About Dowries

There is a lawyer in Kenya who wants to meet President Barack Obama very badly. He knows the President will visit Kenya in July and the noble, young lawyer, Felix Kiprono, is very sincere when he says he wants to marry the oldest of the Obama daughters, 16-year-old Malia. He became interested in Malia in 2008 and can proudly say he has dated no other women since then, it has just ... (click for more)