Should Your Brewery’s Taproom Allow Minors?

After Lacie Bray had a child within the first year of opening Ozark Beer Company, something clicked.

“We took a trip to the Pacific Northwest when our little guy was just getting to be mobile,” she recalled. “We would meet friends at breweries and the ones that had activities or play areas for our kids we really enjoyed.

“It made the difference between us staying for one beer and be rushed, or for us staying a couple of hours and having more than one beer and buying food. We took this to heart and we created an area for kids to play with toys and activities at our own brewery.”

More and more breweries are seeing the need to cater to customers with the allowance of minors at taprooms. The benefit is outweighing the liability it seems.

When Iron Horse Brewery introduced food last year, the brewery had to make some changes to its policies.

As Labor Day approached, Jared Vallejo wrote in a recent blog post by Iron Horse that adding the taproom’s ability to welcome minors could open up opportunities in furthering sales.

“We heard from quite a few … that it would be nice to allow minors in the pub, especially on the weekends like when family comes into town and we want to take them to our favorite brewery, but can’t because people under 21 aren’t allowed in,” he wrote.

In June, Iron Horse sent a survey to its consumer community. Vallejo reported that nearly 77 percent of the responses indicated they would favor a change in the “no-minors” policy.

“That’s a pretty telling number,” he said.

A reasonable question for breweries that don’t allow minors now is asking how does having minors — persons that can’t drink the beer anyhow — in a taproom help sales?

“Allowing minors means allowing their parents and guardians in, which means reaching a different audience, one who might not have had our beer before,” Vallejo said. “Part of the “magic” of indie craft beer is the deep commitment it has to building and fostering “community”. In allowing minors, we get to include more of the community into our space, events and culture, all with the end goal of creating an interconnectedness with fellow humans, regardless of age.”

Bray noted that Ozark’s ability to showcase their brewery to multiple types of consumers has been great for them in their community.

“Everyone feels welcome,” she said, noting that the brewery resides in a previous dry county. “We have hosted baby showers, kids birthday parties and even have a day with Santa in December,” she said. “This is something we felt very passionately about. We realized [upon opening] that we were creating the beer culture. When kids and families are allowed into the space it shifts from a strictly drinking environment to a much more social environment. People also tend to drink more responsibly when families and kids are present, and it allows an environment for kids and young people to see that alcohol can be used in a very responsible way and should not be stigmatized.”

Photos courtesy Marty Shutter, Ozark Beer Company.

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