You Can Thank Craft Brewing for the Rise of Kids in Bars
Breweries are becoming PG destinations for family-friendly outings
Babies are the new barflies, and it’s all thanks to craft beer.
In a recent Vox explainer, Stephie Grob Plante unpacked the growing popularity of breweries and tap rooms as a destination for kids and families. As it turns out, the recent pivot many watering holes have made to family-friendly hot spots is largely a product of craft brewing culture.
To be clear, babies aren’t hanging out with the neighborhood boozers at the local dive, partying with 20-somethings at the club or stopping in for a nightcap at upscale cocktail bars. They are, however, increasingly accompanying their parents on daytime trips to breweries, beer gardens, beer halls and brewpubs. These destinations, as Plante noted, are gaining popularity as interest in craft beer continues to spike, with some destinations, like Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, specifically catering to kids and families. “The goal isn’t necessarily to drink,” explained Plante. “Parents take their babies to breweries to be social.”
While babies in bars may seem like a new annoying trend in millennial parenthood, the idea of a bar as a family destination is actually far from new. Back in the earliest days of American imbibing, colonial taverns weren’t the adults-only locales we see bars as today. Rather, as historian Christine Sismondo told Plante, bars were once popular gathering places for community members of all ages to eat, drink and socialize.
Among Americans, the current attitudes that make kids in taprooms an eyebrow-raising sight today can actually be traced back to Prohibition and a weird, Puritanical stigma that still renders the American relationship to alcohol a complicated one. As many critics have pointed out, this residual Prohibition-esque attitude could be partly to blame for dangerous drinking habits that later develop among American college students (and, yes, American adults as well.)
By exposing children to safe, responsible drinking as an accepted social activity in a family-friendly environment, rather than as a secretive adult behavior that can only take place behind closed doors under the cover of nightfall, parents who bring their children along to breweries and taprooms may actually be setting the groundwork for those children to develop healthier relationships to alcohol later on. Or, if nothing else, they’ll at least pick up better taste in beer.
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