Brewery Bees: Visiting Triangle breweries with your kids
Posted September 22, 2021 8:30 a.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — Often a child bored with football on TV some fall Saturdays and Sundays would come to me or my husband and say, “Are we going to the brewery this weekend?” At first, I worried what this said about our parenting that our children were wannabe barflies. Then I decided it was just proof that we are cool, fun parents. More than that, it proved that the Triangle offers great, family-friendly environments for parents that enjoy trying new brews.
Barflies? No, we’ll call them “Brewery Bees.” Sweet little ones buzzing around one of Raleigh’s breweries with outdoor seating or happily playing games with friends at one of Durham’s best spots for local lagers.
I met two families with their Brewery Bees enjoying a sunny September weekend recently and wanted to know more about how they navigate keeping their kids entertained while enjoying drinks and adult conversations. Jay and Suha Sellers joined their friends and former neighbors Logan and Ashley Rietz at Ponysaurus Brewing Company in Durham.
Suha smiled as she sat with Ashley at one of Ponysaurus’ many picnic tables in a fenced-in area. She said of their husbands, “The boys are big beer fans and this is one of the places we can take the kids. It’s outdoors so we don’t have to worry so much about COVID.” Distant from others, the Sellers watched their daughters play with the Rietz’s sons in the sunshine. Suha laughed and said of the grassy hill, “It’s not too fragile, nothing can break here.”
Not much can break at Ponysaurus, that’s true. It’s one of my family’s favorite spots. My kids often throw a ball in the grass, play with trucks in the dirt or play a game under a tree. Suha adds, “I like the spread out, outdoor area with shade.”
Logan sipped a beer as his young son sat on his lap. He looked down at the boy and remembered, “His first birthday was at Fullsteam!” Fullsteam is another popular Durham brewery. It’s common to see families celebrating birthdays, engagements or any other life events at Triangle breweries. It’s a relaxed, fun atmosphere. It was at Ponysaurus back in 2018 that we gathered family and friends for a gender reveal for our third baby.
Plan ahead for a family day at a brewery. Visit brewery websites to know if you and your kids will be outside or inside. I often stash jackets, sunscreen and water bottles under the stroller. Some breweries have space for kids to throw the ball around, other places are better suited to coloring books, LEGOs or board games. Logan said, “Coloring books and crayons. Always. Stuff for the kids to occupy themselves.”
If your child is afraid of dogs, find out the pet policy. Many local breweries welcome dogs and kids, but at the owners’ and parents’ risk.
Make yourself familiar with the surrounding businesses, sights and food offerings. Some breweries have a kitchen and offer a full menu, others have rotating food trucks on site. Ashley remembered a weekend going to play and then heading for pizza and beer. She said, “Pullen Park then Trophy Brewing is great for a weekend in downtown Raleigh.”
COVID Changed Everything
Pre-pandemic, many breweries offered board games, decks of cards and other shared entertainment. Those may be stashed away since 2020, so bring your own toys and games.
Most breweries are currently in compliance with state and local mask mandates. Check websites and follow signs at your favorite brewery for protocols. When we were at a brewery with our kids, recently, I reminded them to have masks ready to go inside to order food and drink or use the restroom, but when they got outside, they could ditch the mask to eat and run around.
Time is up, kids
We all know breweries are mostly adult spaces, even if they serve food, non-alcoholic beverages and are open to families. Many local breweries have a time at night when their locations become open to adults only. Usually by 8 or 9 p.m., but sometimes as early as 7 p.m., employees ask that parents take their children home. Check the website or ask staff the policy at that brewery. The Sellers and the Rietzs were out in the afternoon for their brewery visit and laughed when Logan said, “In all honesty, if it were after 7 p.m., we wouldn’t be out here with them. They would be at home with a sitter.”
Apologies to my fellow adults if I’m scrambling with a stroller at 8:02 pm. I promise we’re leaving with our little “bees” so you can have a night out of great brews.
Places for Brews and “Bees”
There are many local brewery spots open to families. Here are some to try this fall:
- Barrel Culture Brewing and Blending (Durham) - Organic, artisanal-style ales. Bring an indoor game for the kids.
- Bombshell Beer Company (Holly Springs) - Women-led, family and dog-friendly outdoor beer garden.
- Bond Brothers Beer Company (Cary) - Two Cary locations. Variety of beer styles. Don’t miss the food truck rotation.
- Bowstring Pizza and Brewyard (Raleigh) - Delicious pizza from Vic’s Pizza Bus on site. Outdoor seating and fun games.
- Compass Rose Brewery (Raleigh) - A north Raleigh spot with ample indoor seating, some outdoor seating and event space.
- Fullsteam Brewery (Durham) - A new location is coming soon to Boxyard RTP, but the Durham spot is fun for music and kids. Enjoy a full menu with your beer.
- Gizmo Brew Works (Chapel Hill and Raleigh) - Two locations open to families and dogs. 50 beers on tap. Plan an event or reserve a keg to go.
- Highwire Brewing (Durham) - Indoor and outdoor patio space. Get food delivered to your table. Don’t miss the big soccer and shuffle board play areas for kids of all ages.
- Lonerider Brewing Company (Raleigh and Wake Forest) - Two locations in Raleigh and one in Wake Forest offer outdoor and event space. Enjoy a scratch-made menu at the Glenwood Ave. location. Order from nearby restaurants at the Wake Forest “hideout.”
- Steel String Brewery (Carrboro) - A little farm life with a funky vibe. A small production brewery with relaxed fun for families.
- Trophy Brewing & Taproom (Raleigh) - Open air seating, downtown Raleigh location with delicious pizza and food truck rotations.
- White Street Brewing Company (Wake Forest) - Located in family-friendly, quaint downtown Wake Forest, don’t miss the Kolsch and Scottish Ale. Bring indoor kid entertainment.
Amy Davis is a monogramming mom of three and fitness instructor with FIT4MOM Midtown Raleigh and web contributor for the historic Village District. She is a regular Go Ask Mom contributor.