Family Friendly Brewery Tour or Inappropriate Parenting?

We think a family visit to a brewery is a great idea. The kids can learn the business of brewing while you can sprint through the brewery tour corralling them – but all the time knowing there is a just reward at the end. We want to highlight several regional breweries that have great tours, as well as kid tolerated dining areas, to make any of these brewery visits enjoyable and legit!

But first, a short trip down memory lane. When Marisa was growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she remembers her dad packing up mom and the 5 kids every Mother’s Day to visit the Big Buck Brewery. Here are her thoughts:

“Mother’s Day would start out with my Dad sounding the alarm at 6:30 am, summoning us to clean the house for our Mom while he sent her out of the house to do whatever she wanted/needed to do. I asked her once what she did while she had a few hours to herself, and she said that the first time Dad sent her on her way, she didn’t know quite what to do! Spoken like a true home maker; your life is your house and family and without it, you feel kind of lost for a minute. As the years went by though, and Mom knew what was coming, she’d schedule breakfast with her lady friends from church, a basic manicure/pedicure at the local salon, or just a nice drive through the winding, scenic back roads near the old neighborhood in the Jetta 5-Speed my Dad owned.

Once she returned, Dad would walk her through the sparkling clean house, and end the tour with all 5 of us dressed and ready to take her out for lunch. I do remember that the first time Dad took us, Big Buck was full of life and bustling with people, but as Mother’s Day celebrations came and went, the Brewery patrons dwindled. I read recently that they filed for bankruptcy and had to close down most of the locations in Michigan, including the one I remember from my childhood. The only one left is in Gaylord, Michigan. So I suppose, you could say that I’ve been a Brew Babe since I was a little girl. Good craft beer appreciation runs in my family 🙂 .”

From the look of their website, The Big Buck is still family friendly – although they do not list any brewery tour times – so not sure if that is part of their offerings. Still, if you are in Michigan, stop by and enjoy their craft beers!

But what about if you live in Seattle? Then Red Hook should be a must on your list for taking those visiting relatives with kids on a tour. Tours of the Woodindale Brewery operate daily and cost $1 per person. They run for 1 hour, and include up to five samples of beer. Guests also receive a souvenir tasting glass, a walk through the brewery, a Redhook history lesson and an explanation of how they brew their fine ales. It even states on the website that minors are welcome to attend. The Redhood Brewery Restaurant (at the same site) has indoor and outdoor seating and offers a kids menu.

In San Diego, Stone Brewing Co. has a similar set-up. They allow minors on the factory tour and they have a very “Napa-inspired” indoor and outdoor dining room filled with families and strollers. There are carp swimming around the center fountain outside that attract the kids and lots of outdoor areas for the kids to run around after they eat (supervised of course!)

Adirondack Pub & Brewery in Lake George, New York has a big “Kid Friendly” sticker on their website that tells you to “bring ’em along”. Tours are given Saturdays at noon and there is a pub on the premises that doesn’t have a kids menu, but they do offer a big burger for $8.99.

Goose Island beer in the Chicago area offers tours at their Clybourn location on Sundays which last 60-90 minutes and reservations are required. They have a “small bites” section of the menu where you can get something for the kids for $9.

Know any other kid friendly breweries in the US or abroad? Leave us a note in the comment section!

You can follow the breweries mentioned in this article on Twitter at @Redhook_Brewery, @StoneBrewingCo, @adkpub and @GooseClybourn. (Big Buck is lucky to have a website up!)

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  • Lisa  On November 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    We’ve taken our son on Dogfish Head’s brewery tour a number of times (and, of course, he ‘helps’ us bottle when we’re homebrewing). Victory’s tour is also kid-friendly, and I’ve never been to a brewpub that doesn’t let kids enjoy a good look at the tanks.

  • Christine Wilson  On November 4, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    I’m more familiar with brewpubs than brew tours, but almost all that we visited in Michigan and Oregon are kid friendly. In Oregon I particularly liked McMenamin’s. Most of their brewpubs are in historical buildings with my favorite being Edgefield, a restored poor farm. I also liked Widmer, Full Sail Ale, and Bridgeport (actually I liked them all but I’m getting wordy here).

    In Michigan you have to stop at Bell’s in Kalamazoo (best olive burger in the world according to my daughter) and New Holland Brewery in Holland MI (the best gin on earth but definitely for gin lovers only, not those really looking for tasteless vodka). There’s many more good ones. All of these breweries have tours.

  • vininva  On November 6, 2010 at 12:48 am

    I loved Stone and Goose Island! Here are a few more that are good to visit:

    Clipper City Brewery (aka Heavy Seas Brewery) in Baltimore, MD was family-friendly when we were there a few weeks ago. It’s just a brewery though, no food there.

    Tustin in Tustin, CA has a restaurant and is family-friendly. The brewery part is really tiny. You are basically eating and looking at the equipment.

    Actually, I can’t think of any where I didn’t see a family. 🙂

    Church Brewery in Pittsubrgh, PA is nice and family-friendly, too. Artsy food there, like at Stone and Goose Island.

    Then there’s Hops in Alexandria, VA and Sweetwater Tavern in Centreville, VA that are restaurants. (I prefer Sweetwater.) And then there is BJs (which is a chain, I think) throughout California. But I’m not a fan of their hops.

  • Adam  On April 25, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Lakefront in Milwaukee is great for kids. They get root beer and can ask all the crazy questions they want. take them on their birthday, and they can pound the bung into a keg while the while tour cheers. Great food also.

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