Dog’s Reunion with Owner Via Beer Can Invites Look at Brewing History

eight millennia of beer crafting led to a family reunion for a woman and her dog

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

An Iowa woman was reunited with her lost dog after three years due to a beer can ad, BBC News reported. The brewing company featured adoptable dogs on its cans in order to find homes for wayward pups. The history of brewing stretches back 8,000 years.

Beer glasses with old oak barrel and wheat on wooden table
The Fertile Crescent that is the Mediterranean region around modern-day Iraq is known as the location where beer brewing began. Photo by Valentyn Volkov / Shutterstock

According to the BBC article, Monica Mathis of Iowa lost her dog Hazel in 2017. She moved from Iowa to Minnesota shortly thereafter. Recently, Hazel turned up in the deep south. A brewery in Florida had gained some notoriety for its beer cans which featured pictures of dogs that were up for adoption, and Mathis recognized her dog, immediately.

“When she was brought to the county animal shelter, staff tried to use her microchip to locate her owner, but the contact information was out of date,” the article said. “At the time, Motorworks Brewing, a local company, had partnered with the shelter to help dogs find homes by putting their faces on a four-pack of cold ones. Miles away in Minnesota, stories about the ‘beer dogs’ suddenly appeared on Ms. Mathis’ Facebook feed.”

Mathis commented on a social media post made by the brewery on January 24, asserting that Hazel—who the shelter had renamed Day Day—was her dog. The shelter then asked her to provide proof of ownership of the golden-terrier mix, “including veterinary records and photographs,” the article said. Just a few days later, the shelter announced that Hazel would be returning to Mathis.

As heartwarming as the story is, it may not have happened without the tried and true cultural tradition of beer brewing. What was the first step in getting us to a beer culture?

The Earliest Barley Roots

Most people don’t know it, but beer can be traced back 8,000 years.

“We can trace back the history, at least in part, to what we call the Fertile Crescent, which is the Mediterranean region that is around modern-day Iraq, and so on and so forth,” said Dr. Charles W. Bamforth, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis. “They used to carry barley around with them—the grain from the barley—and the barley was hard and tough and wasn’t very nutritious. But somebody got it wet and it started to sprout, and it got softer and tasted like bean sprouts.”

From there, Dr. Bamforth said, it wasn’t long before they realized they could bake it into bread, which they stored in jars that became moist.

“And what we now know happened is that wild yeast came in there and they converted the sugars from the bread into alcohol, and that tasted really good when they took the liquid that came out of those jars,” Dr. Bamforth said.

However, magical as this occurrence seemed to be, it wasn’t totally unique in the Fertile Crescent.

“The reality is that beer probably emerged and evolved separately in different parts of the world, through spontaneous fermentation,” Dr. Bamforth said. “People, if they had things that could be fermented, they would become fermented by yeast that was all over the place, in the jars and so on and so forth. So, you can look back to ancient archaeological digs in places like Britain to actually see that the history of beer is very, very long and old indeed.”

Wherever we pin down the origins of beer, its malted hops and treated barley at least reunited one woman with her long-lost dog.

Dr. Charles W. Bamforth contributed to this article. Dr. Bamforth is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Hull.