Berendsen, who owns a pet accessory shop in Zelhem, in the eastern part of the Netherlands, commissioned local brewery Schelde to produce the drink. "It's non-alcoholic, not too fizzy and has a delicious beef and malt flavor," Berendsen told TIME. "There are some owners who like [to drink] it as much as their dogs," he added.
The brewers insist the beverage is a bone-fide beer. "It's made more or less in the same way as our Pils with many of the same ingredients," said a spokesman from Schelde. "We've just added some minerals and left out the alcohol. In fact, it's probably a lot healthier than regular beer."
Sure, but will it tickle the discerning canine palate? TIME decided to test Kwispelbier on some of Europe's most favored pooches in Paris's Bois de Boulogne, near the up-scale 16th Arrondissement and a favorite walking spot of the city's finest pedigrees (both four- and two-legged varieties).
It was here that we encountered the Education Canine dog school, a lively bunch of pampered pooches enrolled on a rigorous exercise and discipline program. Our twenty-strong tasting panel was more than ready for some liquid refreshment after a long midday walk. They (quite literally) lapped the stuff up.
Sappho (an American cocker spaniel), Reveur (a Lab) and Zorba (beagle) necked a good bottle-and-a-half each and refused to give up their spots at the front of the bar. Averti, however, was clearly unimpressed with the standard of beverage on offer. The white terrier took a moment to preen her coat as the rest of the pack jostled for position.
Education Canine's "headmaster" Franck Philip pronounced the drink a success. "I can definitely see this taking off," he said while taking a few sips, "but more so in America than in Europe. Americans like to spoil their pets with expensive accessories and dog hairdressers, but I like my dog to be a real dog."
After filling doggy bowls all over Holland, Kwispelbier will be launched in Belgium, France and Germany over the next few months. Orders have already been flooding in from the U.S. and Japan via the pet shop's website. The brewery is currently producing over 20,000 bottles per week to meet the demand.
Kwispelbier currently retails at 7.35 Euros ($9.60) for four bottles plus postage on www.dogbeer.eu. This makes it an expensive tipple when compared to Holland's better-known beer brands which, as yet, have not unveiled plans to move into the pet market.
Cats too will soon be able to get their whiskers into something stronger than the usual saucer of milk. Berendsen is planning to launch an as-yet-unnamed beer for felines in 2008. Meow!