I spent several days in Munich while backpacking around Europe the summer after I graduated college, so I’m somewhat of an expert on beer gardens. (Yes, I realize how stereotypical that is and, yes, that last part is sarcasm.)
I loved the beer gardens in Munich because they’re basically parks that happen to serve beer (and delicious currywurst). Kids play in them, dogs run around, trees and flowers bloom all around. Beautiful. Relaxing.
Charlotte’s breweries remind me of those beer gardens. Some are more beer garden-y than others — The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, obviously — but most have embraced the laid-back atmosphere, outdoor spaces with big tables, and family and dog friendliness.
That atmosphere is a large part of what draws me to the breweries. I’m not looking for loud music or rowdy crowds. I’m OK with last call coming at 10 p.m. I like kids and dogs running around and playing, assuming they’re well-behaved. (Man, when did I get so old?)
Recently, I discovered an anti-kids and dogs at breweries contingent in Charlotte. It started with a tweet from Panthers reporter Jonathan Jones.
Unpopular opinion alert: Why are there gigantic dogs and/or small children cool to bring to breweries?
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) February 21, 2016
“I understand that kids and dogs are allowed at breweries, but I don’t understand why it ever became a thing,” Jones said in a follow-up email. “Breweries should be adult playpens. I don’t go onto kids’ playgrounds and I don’t go into dog parks. I don’t think either should be coming into my play area, either.”
So why not just go to a bar then, one that doesn’t allow pets and doesn’t attract families?
“If you’re a millennial in Charlotte, you kind of can’t ignore the breweries,” Jones added. “The dog/kid thing isn’t a dealbreaker for me as much as it’s just digestible nuisance. …
“It’s nothing personal against the people who bring their children or their dogs. It’s just, personally, I would enjoy my time at these establishments more if there weren’t dogs or kids.”
For balance, I reached out to some friends who have both a dog and a less-than-1-year-old baby, and like breweries. They said they like taking both (not at the same time … yet) to breweries because it’s good socialism for the dog and a fun, cheap outing with a baby.
“Breweries, in my experience, differ from the bar scene in specific ways,” that make them more welcoming to families and dogs, my friend Patrick Murphy said. “There is a sense of respect for the beer, the craft of the people brewing it, and therefore a sense of responsibility and maturity to the brewery experience.”
His wife, Mandie (also my friend), added: “We also want alcohol to be a normal thing that (the baby) grows up with. We want him to know there is a safe and normal way to experience drinking. Breweries are the perfect way to do this.”
Based on this super-scientific Twitter poll, the majority of folks (76 percent as of last night) aren’t bothered by babies and dogs at breweries, but there’s a vocal minority.
@CoreyInscoe YES! Babies don't bother me as much, since, you know, they're humans. But I don't want your mutt in my junk when I drink!
— LOL Charlotte (@LOLCLT) March 8, 2016
@CoreyInscoe Answered yes but real answer is both are fine as long as they are behaved (unfortunately, many are not).
— Kami Mattioli (@kmattio) March 8, 2016
@CoreyInscoe depends. when the babies clearly don’t want to be there, or the dog is going insane then it’s annoying if nothing is done
— Anna Watson (@annyaaa) March 8, 2016
I’d separate the two. I’ve seen dog fights and it made me very uncomfortable. Babies are much easier to control. https://t.co/blZZQH0tMJ
— Kseniya | Birch Co. (@BirchCollective) March 8, 2016
I don’t have kids, but my dog may join me for a beer a few times this summer. She’s mostly well-behaved. Sorry in advance if she starts howling.
Photos: Sara Kay Mooney; The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery; Corey Inscoe