A Kid-Friendly Brewery is Not Hard To Find
Many craft breweries encourage parents to bring their young children, making them a popular dinner option for families.
Olivia and Charlotte W. and their parents, of West Chester, PA, at Sly Fox Brewing Co. in Pottstown, PA.
Photo Courtesy of Sly Fox Brewing Co.
As any parent with young kids knows, going out to eat isn’t always a relaxing experience. Kids get bored and when they start to fidget and whine, some restaurants (and their patrons) are not very accommodating.
There is a niche, however, eager to scratch the itch for a fun, relaxing night out for kids and parents: breweries.
Moms and dads, many of whom were responsible for the growth of the craft-beer industry when they were younger, are now packing up their kids and heading out to a nearby craft brewery for a casual night of food and beer with family and friends.
While taking your baby to some bars might get you sidelong glances, many breweries have gone out of their way to be family friendly.
Breweries often allow you to bring your own food
For starters, it can be easier on the wallet than your typical family restaurant since breweries that don’t serve food often allow you to bring your own or they partner with food trucks that offer cheaper eats.
Mike Mandato, taproom manager at Free Will Brewing in Perkasie, PA, says customers are welcome to bring dinner from home or try out the food truck parked outside.
“If dad or mom wants to come out and have a beer, it’s not the type of place where you have to spend a lot,” Mandato says.
Visiting Free Will recently with her kids, Kara Twele, of Perkiomenville, PA, says the brewery is a great meeting place for family and friends.
“The atmosphere is very family friendly. Generally, everyone can enjoy good food, not to mention open space for kids to play and have fun,” Twele says.
Atmosphere is relaxed, casual
John Hoffman, co-founder of Dew Point Brewing in Yorklyn, DE, understands why breweries would appeal to parents of young children.
“It’s just very simple — they can bring their own food and there’s an outdoor space. They don’t have to manage their kids as much. They can let run them around and have a good time,” Hoffman says. “I think at the end of the day that’s our job, to give people a place to relax.”
Some breweries, such as Sterling Pig in Media, PA and Iron Hill, which has locations in PA, NJ and DE, do have restaurants with full menus.
But full service or not, the goal of being family friendly seems to be the same.
Jason Scholl, co-owner of Blueprint Brewing Company in Harleysville, PA, agrees that most breweries aim to provide a laid-back setting.
“It’s a nice, relaxed, casual environment and that’s what the breweries are going for as a whole — a relaxed, down- home feel. It’s the next step from being at your house,” Scholl says.
Scholl and his two partners, Kyle Fetch and Cory McDonald, wanted to create a space where parents felt welcome and kids could enjoy themselves.
“We’d go out to other places and notice kids were either draped over their parents’ legs bored and wanting to leave or they were looking at an iPad. So, that’s why we wanted to do this,” Scholl says, explaining parents can sip their beer while watching their kids explore Blueprint’s play area stocked with toys and board games.
Tiffany Cummings-Damiani, of Doylestown, PA, says she and her husband have taken their 2-year-old son to several breweries, both locally and when traveling.
“Often the breweries have food trucks, games, and music to keep him fed and entertained. Plus, as adults, we are able to either ‘support local’ or use it as a way to learn about other towns,” Cummings-Damiani says.
Young families get a sense of community
Geoff Bado, owner of Zed’s Beer in Marlton, NJ, says it’s great to see families in his brewery, where they make it family friendly with games for all ages, chalkboard tables to draw on and changing tables in the men’s and women’s restrooms.
“Older kids will grab a card game or board game and spend time with their parents. Just this past Saturday we had a heated game of Old Maid between a dad and his young daughter,” Bado recalls. “And this past Sunday, we had three new moms in the brewery — their kids were sleeping in their strollers while they had a few beers, ate takeout and caught up.”
With their low-key atmosphere, Craig Coffman, manager of the Tastin’ Room at Sly Fox Brewing Company in Pottstown, PA, said breweries can be a place parents can go to feel more connected with their friends and neighbors.
“Years ago, if you were a young parent, you pretty much didn’t go anywhere —you’re having beers at home or at a family barbecue. Now, younger parents are going out on a Friday night and bringing the kids with them,” Coffman says.
“A lot of times people will meet here and their kids will play together and next thing you know they’re sharing a pint. It’s a really cool environment.”
Michele Haddon is a freelance writer.