Saving Grace Gift-Wrapping Fundraiser and Adoption Event

Saturday, Dec. 15, 2:00 p.m.

Barley Labs, Durham

Dog-friendly bars and breweries dot the Triangle, but there’s one that leads the pack not only in making Fido feel welcome (with dog beds and house-made dog treats) but fostering community. Barley Labs, a taproom, bottle shop, and dog treat company, opened in Durham’s Valley Run neighborhood last March and has quickly become a hot spot for beer lovers with dogs, beer lovers who don’t have dogs but like dogs, and dog lovers who also like to play trivia. Barley Labs is all about finding, or perhaps even rescuing, your new best friend.

“We really love beer and we really love dogs,” says Theresa Chu, who founded the brewery with her husband, Scott Beaudry. “We always wanted a community space to help celebrate those two things in some way.”

That philosophy extends to the bar’s events; there are monthly trivia nights, movie nights, music bingo, and run clubs. Around Thanksgiving, they had a pie swap, and in December, there’s a cookie exchange. They also host lectures and workshops by dog trainers and behavioral specialists.

But perhaps the event that’s most meaningful to Chu and Beaudry is the upcoming adoption drive and gift-wrapping fundraiser at 2:00 p.m. on December 15, which they are hosting for Saving Grace, a dog-rescue outfit in Wake Forest.

“For the fundraiser part of it, we’ll wrap your Christmas gifts for a small donation to Saving Grace,” Chu says. “Also, they’ll have some volunteer fosters out to bring out a bunch of adoptable dogs.”

“Adoption events are the best and worst,” Beaudry says, laughing. “They’re the best because you get to come out and see all these great dogs, but they’re the worst because you just want to take all the dogs home.”

Both of their Lab mixes, Barley and Hops, are rescue dogs. Barley was rescued in Chicago, where the couple lived prior to moving to the Triangle in 2012, when Beaudry, an avid home brewer, began making dog biscuits as a way to use extra grain. It was trial and error at first, but the idea of making these dog treats a “thing” blossomed relatively quickly. After all, Barley loved them. Wouldn’t other dogs?

“I had hit a wall at my corporate job and went back to my cubicle, pulled out a Post-It Note, and wrote ‘Barley Labs September 2012’ on it,” Chu says. At the time, it was March. She went home and told Beaudry, “I need you to be OK with this.” He said yes, and they launched Barley Labs’ dog treats online in September of that year.

Hops joined the pack in 2014, when Chu spotted him at a rescue during a treat delivery. While they began finding success with retailers carrying their dog treats, there was always the hope for something bigger. Chu wanted a bar where she could take her dogs, relax, have fun, and be around other people who loved dogs and beer. Sometimes, when you want something, you just have to build it yourself.

The pair’s initial attempt to create a bar in 2014 failed; they had recently started working with a distributor to sell their dog treats and needed to focus on finding a production bakery. However, in March 2018, they finally broke ground on their Durham location and quickly made their mark among the Triangle’s dog-friendly bars. Pups are often relegated to outside patios, but at Barley Labs, not only can you bring your canine companion inside, there are thoughtful amenities such as dog beds, toys, water bowls, and leash hooks. And the constant adoration and understanding of fellow dog lovers is pervasive throughout.

“Not only are we inviting the community in, we see them creating their own community inside this space,” Chu says. “We’re watching our customers become friends with each other because dogs can’t help but introduce themselves to one another.”