Saturday, May 18, 2024

Beloved beer garden dog’s legacy lives on at Doghaus Brewery

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LEAVENWORTH – Doghaus Brewery has three life goals: pet dogs, drink beer, repeat. Located in the basement of LOGE hotel, it's one of the few places downtown where dogs are allowed inside. The brewery will see anywhere from 10 to 20 dogs come in with their beer-drinking humans on a busy Saturday, and this is probably how De would have wanted it. De the Weimaraner is Doghaus Brewery’s original four-legged mascot, and the reason the brewery even exists.

De, short for Deohgee, started off as a rescue intended to serve as the family dog for Steve and Debbie Demarest. They got De around the time they acquired the building that now holds LOGE Hotel and Doghaus Brewery, which required a lot of time and attention. 

“Weimaraners are nicknamed the ‘velcro dog.’ You just can’t leave them behind,” said Steve. 

Wherever they went in the building, so did De. 

“Initially we didn’t have the beer garden and we only had the hotel, so the dog was following my wife around doing the housekeeping,” said Steve.

The Demarests eventually opened Der Hinterhof, and De figured out that the beer garden was full of food scraps and people that weren’t too busy working to give him attention. De went from being the family dog, to being known around town as the beer garden dog. 

“He loved being recognized and incorporated into everything we did down there,” said Katie Demarest, Steve and Debbie’s daughter. “We eventually had to put his picture up as like a wanted ad so people would stop feeding him, because he would do all the tricks for any snacks.”

In 2015, Steve got the idea to fill the unoccupied basement below Der Hinterhof with a brewery. However, Debbie was not in favor of starting another business, as busy as they already were.

“I thought the best way to get Debbie on board would be to use the dog in the brewery,’' said Steve. It worked. Thus, Doghaus Brewery was born, and De was the face of it.

“He frequently roamed the whole building while Steve was here...He’d even ride the elevator up and down sometimes with people. He was quite the character,” said Joel Sams, the brewery’s current owner. Sams started working at Doghaus a year after opening.

“When I first started we only had three different beers and we rarely had all three on tap at once, because usually one would run out before the next batch was ready,” said Sams. 

The operation was small, and the space was even smaller. The brewery coined itself as a “nanobrewery,” claiming to be the smallest in the state. 

Sams and his business partner Aaron Gibbs took over the brewery in 2018 when the Demarests were ready to retire. It has grown a little bit since then. A few renovations allowed for slightly more seating and wiggle room between the door and the bar. The brewing operation expanded to a five barrel system, so Sams is able to have seven taps full, with an additional tap dedicated to a cider.

Gibbs’ dog Koda, also a Weimaraner, filled De’s place as the bar mascot. Koda was an outgoing dog with a snazzy bow tie, tall enough to stand with his paws on the bar.

“Somebody would be walking down the hall and peek in, and he would have heard them coming, so he’d be standing up there looking like he’s ready to serve them a beer and sucker them all in the door. 

They’d say, “I’ve got to go here, there’s a dog bartender!”’ said Sams.

When Koda passed, he was succeeded by Gibbs’ next Weimaraner, Luna. Gibbs moved out of the state earlier this year, taking Luna with him. The bar now has Farrah, a mellow mutt who patrols the bar from the countertops.

A large poster of De still hangs in the bar, and the canine spirit is still alive. The tap handles and flight boards are in the shape of bones, and all of the beer names are dog themed. Sams serves beers such as the Pawtender Pilsner, Alpha Dog Amber Ale, or De De’s Smoked Porter.

Sams also started Dollars for Doggos, in which he takes down all of the dollar bills that customers sign and staple to the wall and donates them to a dog rescue. This past August, Sams donated $2,412 to Wenatchee Valley Humane Society. He plans to do it every time the walls get full, which he hopes is at least annually.

“I think De would have approved, having been a rescue himself, having the dollar bills go to other dogs. It’s kind of a nice legacy,” said Sams.

De passed away recently at the age of 14.5. He spent his final years traveling across the country in an Airstream until settling into the role of “boat dog” in Key Largo, Florida. Steve posted about De’s passing in a Leavenworth Facebook group. 

“I was expecting three or four of our regulars to acknowledge it,” said Steve. It received over 300 likes, 6 shares, and over 40 comments from past customers who knew and loved De. 

“I’m just blown away. For a town our size, I think that’s called going viral,” said Steve.

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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