It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
We've been to more than our share of brewery tasting rooms but recently I've noticed more
and more families there. Not only do some parents bring their kids, some even bring babies.
Back in the day no one would have never considered the idea of underage people in these
settings, and if you’re like many folks you may be wondering how that’s even possible. The
answer is this: every state sets its own laws about when and where minors can be in a bar. As
far as I know, no state regulates this for breweries. As neighborhood tap/tasting rooms
increase their presence in our daily lives, this type of establishment, which used to bet
exclusively for grown-ups, is morphing into more of a daycare center for children whose
parents want to relax over some freshly made beers with friends.
I like the family-friendly nature of breweries but I'm still not comfortable spending a Saturday
afternoon watching inattentive parents drinking beer while their kids chow down on apple juice
and goldfish crackers.. And I admit to being far more than uncomfortable - is angry better?-
when entire tasting rooms are seemingly taken over by screaming, running, out of control
I also think it's also somewhat inappropriate to bring kids to breweries at night. Bill, did you
know that the practice is big enough that some of our regular stops like Threes Brewing in
Brooklyn, already limit hours that kids are allowed in?.It makes sense to me. If they can have
adult swim at the pool why not adult drink at a brewery?
Look Bill, I get it. The 21st-century brewery has come to occupy a sort of hybrid roll: a bar, but
not quite a bar. It's a sort of communal game room with beer on tap. Maybe I'm just being too
sensitive but essentially place that serve alcohol are for adults to just hang out and enjoy
relationships with other adults over a beer. That goes back to what beer drinking used to be
all about. On the other hand, maybe the modern American taproom is becoming a somewhat
rough equivalent to the German biergartens that existed a century ago - a place for all ages.
Oh, and for the record I love dogs in the tasting room regardless of their age.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time!
Hello Gina -
I think you've got something comparing today's tasting rooms to old biergartens. Think back to
pre-Prohibition biergartens in the US. They provided urban dwellers, especially those of
European descent, respite from the daily toils of crowded tenement life. It was a chance to get
out of the apartment, stretch your legs, and share a pint. The beer flowed freely, sure, but it
wasn’t all about drinking. It was about catching up with friends and making new ones. It was a
space for laughing and snacking and giving kids room to run around and, in a world where
poverty and surging industrialization often cut childhood short, simply be kids.
A biergarten was family-friendly decades before women were even legally allowed to set foot in
traditional bars, let alone children. Beer’s appeal had a lot to do with that plus the fact that it is
something you can drink a couple of and not be in a state of inebriation. The pub has been
perfected over centuries as a gathering place for people, and as the saying goes, kids are
Consider if you will Gina, the kids can't really hurt anything since tasting rooms tend to be a little
more sparsely decorated than even the most Spartan bar. Now I'm not saying parents should
let their kids run the steeplechase around the space, but tables aren’t usually jammed next to
each other so it's okay for a kid to move around a bit. I don't think any one expects little kids to
just sit and stare their parents slowly enjoying an imperial stout.
It’s also a timing thing. Brewers’ hours aren’t barkeeps’ hours. Even tasting rooms that don’t
specifically target families might find themselves littered with the stay-at-home set simply due to
the fact that they’re open during daylight hours, when most bars aren’t. It's just the way it is so
As for family friendly brewery owners they might have tapped into to an unexpected revenue
stream in the early hours. I've seen some places that open early in the day filled with parents
and their offspring. These taprooms earn a significant part of their income before 4 or
Here's my soothing thought to anyone worrying about this issue. Your local brewery is not
destined to become a veritable Chuck E. Cheese any time soon. Even if they have storybooks
and stuffed animals for the kids nothing could ever outshine the true belle of the ball - the beer.
To put it another way, breweries are not built for kids. It's that simple.,They don’t have flashing
lights and video games and tokens and a bunny that jumps around and says ‘Hi!’ When it
comes down to it, they're interested in selling beer.
And I agree about dogs - I enjoy seeing them at a brewery.
Here's looking at you Gina