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A Look At Brewery Laws, Child Patrons, And Related Controversy

A Look At Brewery Laws, Child Patrons, And Related Controversy

In September 2018, Union Craft Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland issued a policy to ban children from its taproom after 6:00 p.m. The decision came as a way to control large groups of children running through the taproom and destroying property, as the owner of the brewing company stated. The new rule has sparked controversy and a great deal of discussion around the topic of allowing children in breweries, as well as responsible drinking.

Details Of Union Craft Brewing’s Decision

Cofounder of Union Craft Brewery, Jon Zerivitz, says at the establishment’s former location in Hampden, they did not encounter as many incidents involving children. This contributed to the brewery’s community-friendly atmosphere in Baltimore. However, a large number of unsupervised children running, taking over the taproom, and breaking games created a “dangerous atmosphere” and made founders take action.

After multiple incidents of children breaking vintage games in the new and improved taproom space, Union Craft posted signs with rules for using the games. Unfortunately, the signs did not make a difference, and employees kept having to have difficult conversations with children and parents. Finally, Zerivitz made the decision to close the taproom to children after 6:00 p.m., to conserve the atmosphere and integrity of the restaurant. The rule will be in place from Wednesday to Sunday every week.

In the social media post that announced the change, the brewery stated that the staff “are not babysitters,” and that the establishment’s “couches, tables, photo-trailer, and beer garden are not play structures.” The post immediately sparked an online debate between parents and nonparents alike. Some supported the change, while others denounced Union Craft Brewery and vowed never to return.

New Rule Brews Controversy

Upon the announcement from Union Craft Brewing, many families expressed their anger that they would not be able to dine there with their children after 6:00 p.m. Some parents did not think it was just to issue a blanket rule for all children, rather than only applying it to the families that did not control their kids in the restaurant. The rule seemed especially unfair to some who pointed out that in the past, Union Craft has made it a point to create a family-friendly atmosphere.

Along with other local brewing companies, Union Craft offers games and music in its taproom for families to enjoy. However, it never intended to let children run amok while the parents drink beer – but this is exactly the predicament that occurred. Many locals support Union Craft’s decision to ban children after 6:00 p.m. Some say it will improve the taproom experience for all patrons by eliminating noisy children and preventing property damage. People have also pointed out that other taprooms in the area, including Peabody Heights Brewery in Waverly, encourage families with children to visit, with no hour restrictions.

Pros And Cons To Taproom Kid-Friendly Policies

Taprooms and breweries are not bars. They obey laws such as not serving liquor, only being open certain hours, and controlling what happens in the space. Many taprooms in Maryland have a culture that welcomes kids and families to dine, relax, and hang out. Taprooms are casual spaces where kids can play while the parents drink and talk. Yet these taprooms also emphasize beer. This, some argue, make the space inappropriate for young children.

Parents with children, on the other hand, appreciate taprooms for giving them a space where they can enjoy adult company while children have a good time. Taprooms are a great in-between for families with children of all ages. This is why most taprooms have policies that welcome children. The controversy on limiting child access to taprooms and restaurants is one that is not unique to Baltimore.

One of the pros of welcoming children into taprooms is more business for the brewery. Families with kids can enjoy a meal and a few drinks without having to hire a babysitter. It gives the restaurant a family-friendly feel that can lead to more patrons. Some of the cons, however, are kids running wild, aggravated patrons, confrontations with parents, and property damage. In the end, it is up to each brewery to weigh the pros and cons and decide on its own child-friendly policy.

Restaurant/Brewery Laws In Maryland

With more and more breweries popping up in Baltimore, the city has cracked down on its brewing laws. A new law in 2017, for example, forced some breweries to buy their own beer from wholesalers. It is not against the law in Maryland, however, to have underage children in a taproom. Whether or not to allow children in a taproom is entirely up to the brewing company.

Welcoming children inside a brewery comes with certain challenges. Supporters often include people who have children and who visited the brewery before they had their kids. They often do not see the problem with bringing kids into a taproom for a meal. Those against the practice may not have children, or may believe that having children in a brewery environment could lead to issues with alcoholism down the road. They argue that parents can take their children to many other non-brewery restaurants instead. The decision is largely up to breweries and parents.


A Future Of Responsibility For Union Craft Brewing

Union Craft Brewing wants to encourage responsibility. The goal of the new rule was not to offend parents, but to encourage responsibility over children in the taproom. Union Craft hopes to inspire parents to be more responsible with their drinking habits and child supervision. Parents who wish to bring their kids to Craft Union may still enjoy the taproom before 6:00 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, or anytime on Mondays and Tuesdays. If they let their children run around unsupervised, however, they may run into trouble with the staff.

Union Craft is continuing its platform of responsible drinking by partnering with Lyft to set up designated pick-up and drop-off zones for patrons. Now people who plan on drinking can get safe rides to and from their destinations without having to drive. Union Craft is one of dozens of breweries in Maryland participating in the campaign. Union Craft Brewery hopes to establish a safe, responsible environment in which everyone of age can enjoy craft beers.

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