Legalities of Being Family-Friendly

For many breweries, the culture established from the top is “we are a family,” and it shows. As that craft beer culture continues to grow, more and more consumers are taking the family concept back to the older European beer garden ideals of old and translating that to taprooms across the country.
Not just to entertain imbibers as they sample various brews and find a while to whittle away an evening or weekend afternoon, a host of board games and lawn activities such as cornhole has become standard for many establishments. In turn, consumers that have children have started to find their way to breweries along with the kids in tow. Many breweries harken back to its culture of welcoming all, and that means children as well.
Three Weavers Brewing Company is named after founder Lynn Weaver’s three daughters.
“It has always been important that we have a strong family-based foundation for our company,” said Nick Bachman, Community Manager for the Inglewood, California brewery.
The brewery provides cards and board games to encourage friends and families to interact without the distractions of technology.
“[It’s] why we specifically do not have televisions in our tap room,” Bachman said. “We offer events such as trivia, bingo, paint and pint nights where the whole family can participate.”
Of course, having patrons under the legal drinking age of 21 can present some problems and legal issues.
Each state has its own way of legislating the situation, from prohibiting minors from certain areas or even after certain times. Some breweries in states with more lax laws take it upon themselves to establish laws and train employees to enforce as such.
“We have only had to deal with this a few times, but we have very simply explained that we are a privately-owned establishment and that these are our policies,” said 603 Brewery’s Morgan Kyle, who is the Marketing and Events Manager.
​“We just ask that parents please keep an eye on children and do not allow them to run freely,” she said about the Londonderry, New Hampshire establishment. “We also only allow 21-and-older to sit at our bars.”
Los Angeles’ Angel City now allows minors with a parental guardian to be in the building until 8 p.m. each day.
Employees are instructed to make the rounds by 7:30 p.m. to politely remind all remaining families about the brewery’s policy and to give them enough time to finish up at a leisurely pace.
It wasn’t always that way, and changes have been made.
Angel City General Manager Bradford Fullerton said patrons are only carded at the main entrance. The brewery has more pouring areas than at the main bar area.
“​Since there was some concern that someone underage might try and sneak away from their parents to grab a beer from a satellite bar, ​[we] ​compromised with a policy of only allowing admittance of accompanied minors 14 or younger​,” Fullerton said. ​“This ​‘​compromise​‘​ understandably led to confusion and frustration for parents who were irked that their entire group was being turned away all because Junior just celebrated their 15th birthday.​“​
However well-intended, Fullerton said the policy was a flawed approach, so Angel City ditched that for its current policy, and it hasn’t had any issues since. Any accompanied minor who could even theoretically pass for close to 18 or older has both hands marked with permanent markers, and no children are allowed to sit or stand at any of the bars.
“Our security team does a heroic job of identifying these marked-minors to the rest of the team when they arrive, so they can and will spot if someone ever tries to pull a cover up job in the restroom​,” Fullerton said​. ​“​Additionally, all bartenders are warned, that since no system is ever 100% foolproof, if they ever have any doubts whatsoever that they should politely request to check that ID again just to be on the safe​ side.”​
At Three Weavers, every person that orders an alcoholic beverage is asked to provide proper identification, or they will not be served. During the weekdays — when there is less foot traffic — Bachman explained that tap room servers are trained to watch the room for any possible under-age drinking.
“On the weekends we have security to assist the tap room servers in policing the room to ensure there is no under-age drinking happening on our premises,” he said.
Every single bartender on the 603 Brewery team goes through state-mandated training once a year.
“They have to pass a test to receive a license for it,” Kyle said. “We also reduce pour sizes for beers that are a certain alcohol content, and we review proper serving with staff every six weeks as a team refresh.”
The same rings true for Three Weavers’ staff members.
All taproom servers are required to go through yearly training and education where they receive responsible serving certifications.
“Our taproom management ensures the material discussed in their training is reinforced on a daily basis,” Bachman added. “We also provide an updated identification booklet that servers can reference behind the bar in an effort to catch fake identifications and under-age drinking.”
​Being a family friendly establishment and ​advertising it as such can also be a concern. Though some may consider Angel City events to be for all ages, the brewery does not advertise any of events to be ‘family-friendly.’
“That could be misconstrued as us actively marketing toward minors,” Fullerton said. “Instead, we try and foster a laid-back, inclusive environment geared toward beer-loving adults whom can also feel safe bringing the kids along with them if they happen to be parents.”
Board games and corn-hole are staples at Angel City. The only restrictions Fullerton said it places upon patrons are no drinking games, nor does the brewery allow any R-rated games like Truth or Dare Jenga.
​603 used to offer coloring books​ and games for children, but they all were very quickly destroyed​, Kyle said,​ and ​staff members noticed that when ​the brewery provided things for children to do, parents were much more likely to not ​supervise the children as much.
​“It actually ​didn’​t work in our ​favor,” she said.​
​Problems​ don’t​ really come up much​ between patrons with kids and those without​, but ​as Fullerton said, “​so long as they are not interfering with the good time of other guests or presenting a potential safety threat, we usually try and let people be.​“
He said breweries that can offer a bigger​ space ​are fortunate to be able to accommodate a lot of different folks all at once with room to spare.

Photos by Matt Draper

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.