Do kids belong in a taproom?
In the past, breweries were strictly manufacturing plants. Asking the question, ‘Do kids belong in a taproom?’ wasn’t relevant because taprooms didn’t exist. If you wanted to enjoy beer in public, the only option was a bar. It’s remarkable how all of that has changed. Breweries are everywhere and they are one of the most popular places to meet friends and family.
For me, this is a welcomed change. I never really liked the bar scene as it just seemed like a dark room where people drank away their sorrows. Craft beer has given us a better option than the bar. The taproom allows friends and families to meet up and enjoy craft beer from the source. It is full of life and is a means to helping people connect.
But that raises the question, should kids be in a taproom?
The Quick Answer
Yeah; I know that is a terrible answer but it’s true. There are too many factors to give a blanket answer. But I think there are some things to think about that may change your next taproom experience where there are kids involved (whether they are your kids or someone else’s).
The Longer Answer
At this point, I am convinced there is no better place to share a pint than the local brewery’s taproom. They are full of life, character and light. It is a place where people go to celebrate life and community. And I would argue that most are very kid friendly.
So instead of asking IF kids should be allowed in a taproom, ask yourself what factors are important when deciding WHEN it is appropriate to bring kids to the taproom?
Family Friendly Factors
Is the taproom large enough that you can find a space away from the bar area? You aren’t an outcast because you have kids with you but it is important that the kids and other patrons both feel like they have space to enjoy themselves.
Also consider if the brewery has a space that works for your family. Most parents don’t want their toddler sitting at the bar. Are there tables and high chairs available? If not, it might not be the taproom for you.
Kid Approved Drinks
Obviously, beer isn’t for kids. So there has to be non-alcoholic beverages available. In Cincinnati, Rivertown Brewery and Barrel House makes their own root beer. My kids love it and this is a huge selling point. Do your homework, if you know they do not offer anything for your kids then bring something with you.
Keep Them Fed
Just like drinks, food is important to keep the family happy during a taproom visit. As a parent, I understand the correlation between a full stomach and a happy child. So plan your brewery trip when your kids are not hungry if possible or plan on feeding them while there.
In many cases, the brewery offers food onsite or via a food truck. This is even better as it allows me to have a meal with my family while there. It extends my visit and keeps everyone happy.
Kids do not think taprooms are super cool like you do; unless there is something in it for them. This can be something as simple as coloring books or as exciting as arcade games. Rivertown Brewery and Barrel House offers free arcade games and pinball. My youngest has actually asked about having his birthday part there. Keeping your kids entertained is critical to enjoying your next taproom experience.
Time Of Day
Don’t go after dinner. Taprooms get busier as the night goes on and I find that the noise level increases too. Large crowds are rarely good for families with kids. So go early and leave early. Save the late night taproom visits for the night out with friends.
If it is too crowded, then it is best that change your plans and find a place where your entire family will be more comfortable. You can always just grab a growler to go and enjoy their beer at home.
Be aware of the breweries special events calendar. If they are doing a special release then they will probably be very busy. Large crowds and lines will probably spell disaster for your family.
I must be prepared to keep my kids occupied and happy. Many breweries are owned and operated by parents so they want to help but it is the parent’s responsibility. If my kids are unhappy and causing an issue for others; then it is time for me to leave.
It is also important to realize that not all customers at the taproom will be in a “family friendly” state of mind. If I feel that the situation is not ideal for my family then I need to remove my kids from it.
As a way to respect my kids, I limit drinking and model appropriate behavior. Your drinking habits will impact their future decisions so there are many life lessons that can be taught while at the taproom.
At the end of the day, the parent is responsible to ensure their kids are in a safe environment and not disruptive to the other guests. Not the other way around.
Much of this advice is based on my own personal experience. I have made some bad decisions when it comes to bringing my family to breweries. The biggest factor is to know your kids. Be aware of what does and doesn’t work for them. This will vary based on the individual child, their age and the number of kids you have.
And there will be taprooms that just aren’t good for families with kids. I think these taprooms are in the minority but they do exist.
Taproom can be enjoyable with kids of any age as long as you do research, plan accordingly and set some ground rules before you order the first drink.
Do you take your kids to the local taproom?