No dogs allowed in brewery taprooms, says health department

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The debate over dogs in breweries may be a moot point: The Mecklenburg County Health Department says a state code rule forbids dogs from being in taprooms.

The conversation started last Friday, when Three Spirits Brewery published a Facebook post saying a health inspector from the Mecklenburg County Health Department came by after receiving a complaint about dogs in the brewery’s taproom.

“Some not-so-great news for our dog owning friends at Three Spirits Brewery,” the post said. “Effective immediately, we will not be able to allow dogs in the taproom of our brewery. … We still love your dogs, but from now on, they will have to stay on the patio when you come to visit us at Three Spirits.”

Anyone who’s spent time at breweries around town knows how common it is to see dogs in taprooms. But according to the health department, brewery taprooms are bound by the same food service codes as restaurants, which means that dogs are not allowed inside. The one exception: service animals.

“It’s something that everybody pretty much thought was OK and have been doing forever,” said Tabu Terrell, founder of Three Spirits Brewery. “We’ve never had anyone complain about the dogs to us directly. We didn’t know it was an issue.”

Since the post on Friday, fans of the brewery have voiced their displeasure on the brewery’s Facebook page. Some have called for clarification.  

Lynn Lathan, an environmental health supervisor at the Mecklenburg County Health Department, confirmed that any brewery with a food establishment permit is not allowed to have animals inside. Even though Three Spirits Brewery and other breweries rely on food trucks, they are still permitted as food establishments because they must wash, rinse and sanitize multi-use glassware.

nc-food-manual-section-prohibiting-animalsThe North Carolina Food Code Manual contains more information in Section 6-501.115 on page 178 (see image). Restaurants and bars that are permitted as private clubs are exempt from this and other restrictions. 

Given this, will we see a citywide crackdown on dogs in breweries?

“We don’t send people out looking for animals,” said Lathan. “It’s just another part of the inspection, just as the other things on the sheet are. We don’t have the staff to send them out just looking for animals.”

What they will likely do going forward, said Lathan, is put together a handout reminding brewery owners of the rules.

Lathan thinks the winter weather plays a part.

“We believe that a piece of the reason we’re seeing this more now is that it’s become en vogue to have your animal with you all the time and to travel with your animals with you all the time,” said Lathan. “We’ve had warm weather for so long this year, we believe that people are sitting outdoors with their animals and now that it’s turned cold, people are taking them inside.”

We’re watching to see how Charlotte’s breweries will respond. Like many local breweries, NoDa Brewing Co. receives its fair share of canine visitors. President Suzie Ford hopes that can continue, but is waiting to hear back from the person who did the brewery’s inspection last year. In the meantime, she wishes that the health department could permit breweries differently than restaurants.

“They don’t understand that we’re a little bit different,” said Suzie Ford. “We’re not a bar. We’re not a restaurant. They only have basically their health code rules, and that’s what they kept trying to put us in.”

If the inspector confirms that dogs are not permitted in the brewery’s taproom, Ford said that NoDa Brewing will comply.

“We obviously want to follow the rule of the law,” she said. “Bottom line: We will comply with the law if she responds back that that is the case.”


  1. So then my question is, what if the food truck is not on the property of the brewery bit on the street? Then it’s not part if the brewery. People can choose to bring in food they purchase eksewhere to eat. That would be considered elsewhere if not on the property.

    • Hey Anna,

      It actually has nothing to do with the food truck, and everything to do with the way the breweries are permitted. They are permitted as a “food establishment,” and so are subject to the same codes and rules as restaurants.



    • Andrea – Instead of wanting to know the breeder, maybe you should visit a local rescue or shelter to find a dog that needs a home, rather than a dog that was bred for profit.

      • Andrea, I have 2 Labradoodles and can tell you that they are great dogs with wonderful personalities. Go for it you won’t be sorry.

        • Two things-

          1) I have epilepsy, and We got Charlie for her to be a therapy dog, but then we got my seizures under control and decided not to put her through the training. We got a labradoodle because they are GREAT therapy dogs and they are also too darn cute.

          2) While adopting a dog is a great thing to do (I know there are many out there who need good homes), let’s try not to demonize the people who pay for one. I will probably adopt my next dog, but the most important thing is that the dog is taken care of well regardless of whether or not they were bought from a breeder.

          Happy Wednesday!!

          • Geez Mindy, who stepped on your toes?!
            I do not know the guy but Dave’s comment was in no way demonizing. That’s just awful exaggeration on your part!
            Pointing out that dogs are bred for profit is not demonizing, it’s a fact.
            Pointing out alternative routes of getting a dog aka adopting is not demonizing, it’s a great tip and just another opinion.

          • Cosi, you’re right. “Demonizing” isn’t the word I should have used. I just don’t like the way people view adopting dogs. No insult intended.

          • While ‘demonize’ wasn’t quite the correct word choice, I assumed Dave was saying he believes that a) ‘adopting’ from shelters is good. and b) buying from a breeder is bad (Funny how we don’t ‘adopt’ from breeders).

            There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. The obvious disadvantage of breeders is they purposely bring more dogs into the world.
            While mixed breeds tend to have fewer health issues and live longer, mixed breed dogs can be behaviorally unpredictable. Many owners prefer certain pure breeds because of desirable physical characteristics or dispositional qualities.

    • The food lion by me Next to Independence HS) wont allow even service dogs in there. I asked a manager once after my dog followed me into the store (she jumped out the back window because she thought the store had eaten me))

      • It would be against the law to disallow a service dog. I’m guessing though that the dog that jumped out the back window and into the store (thinking you’d been consumed) was Not a trained service dog 😉

    • Service dogs are regulated by the ADA and are not pets, rather they are legally considered medical equipment just like a wheelchair. To meet the definition of a service dog, a dog must be specifically trained to help a disabled person mitigate their disability. They are not licensed (by law, no one can require such) but must be highly trained to help their disabled handler and behave appropriately in public. A handler is legally entitled to go anywhere the general public can go accompanied by their service dog. Also, only dogs and miniature horses can be service animals…the people who show up with a ‘certification card’ or ‘license’ on a poorly trained pet are almost all faking a disability to bring their pets into places they aren’t legally allowed to be. You can see the law that governs service dogs here: Also, NC state law makes it a crime to make false claims that a pet is a service dog and to interfere with a service dog or it’s handler.

  2. I’m a dog person with two of my own but I’ve always held off taking them to breweries. With the family scene that has become more prevalent over the past few years, in my opinion, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Even the gentlest dog can get mad and do something stupid. One small nip at a little one and the brewery as well as the dog and owner can be up the creek without a paddle. As much as I love seeing people integrate their dogs into all aspects of their lives, I don’t think this is the worst rule, albeit the rationale has nothing to do with what I’ve described above.

  3. Very glad to hear this. Too bad there isn’t a similar law for the people who fail at parenting by bringing their children into restaurants and letting them run completely wild and act like hellions. They are your pets and your out of control children. It is unfair for others to have to put up with them.

  4. “They don’t understand that we’re a little bit different,” said Suzie Ford. “We’re not a bar. We’re not a restaurant…”
    Ms. Ford: It doesn’t matter what you think you are or aren’t, and the health inspectors don’t have to understand anything. It only matters what type of permit your business is open under. That is all that matters in this case. You will have to obey the law as it is on the books just like everyone else.

  5. Best news all year! We stopped going to Sycamore last year due to the enormous amount of dog hair flying through the air and a good many dog owners oblivious to how a few dogs laying on the ground is a hazard for everyone. Witnessed someone trip and spill their beer on a dog, brought everyone into that fight. Glad to see this being discussed by the health department.

    • I agree with you Jeff, stopped going to Sycamore because bar floor is littered with dogs lying in front while owners bask in the attention it brings. Spend quality time playing with your pup, not putting them in the way. I have a dog as well but would never bring her around and take any risk of running into the owner who “trained” his pit bull to be nice.

  6. Wow, now I know why I really dislike this site. Two of my co-workers submitted comments this morning that were legitimate and appropriate, yet they don’t show in the comments section. Guess you have to fall in with the opinion of the writer in order to make a comment with “Charlotte Five”. Not everyone agrees on everything that’s written about, and that’s the point of a comment section!

  7. xclnt….now if we could just forbid adults who bring LITTLE TINY CHILDREN IN STROLLERS (or ANY kids for that matter)! Since when did a beer drinking establishment become a place for dogs and little kids????

    • Wow. What else can we complain about? If you haven’t noticed breweries are MUCH different in most cases by being laid back and more open concept. The owners are the ones that like the idea of the dogs and parents with children – that’s why it’s like that. Go to many bars that have Yoga? Since breweries became the thing in Charlotte, that’s when a beer drinking establishment became a place for what you so dislike. It’s pretty clear.

      You know what I’ve seen a lot more “adults” and “low-mid 20 somethings” cause more problems then dogs or tiny children. I’m a frequent visitor to many breweries and craft houses and have seen one dog fight in 2.5 years. ONE and I’m certain that the count would be zero if the owner wouldn’t have been beyond drunk.

      I’ve never seen a small child brawl or there with a crossed-eyed drunk parent.

      Every problem I’ve seen came from us – me, you, and others that can actually talk and run their mouth and DRINK. Yep I’m a dog owner and nope I don’t take my dog ever because the only time I’ve ever heard my dog growl in 12 years was when drunk 20 something, couldn’t understand you don’t grab a 90 lbs dog from behind especially if they are cornered.

      • Then fine………don’t mix the two. Keep the children and dogs out of drinking establishments. It’s no place for them. If you bring hellish children to restaurants, make sure they are behaved, seated, and not a nuisance. Oh, one more thing, a absentee owner may like the business that some of that brings, but not the managers and staff who actually have to be there and put up with kids running wild and dogs fighting and barking.

    • Won’t do any good. When it to complaints of any kind they are receiving concerning animals and health concerns where food or even drink is consumed, they will not risk it. People who go to business establishments should not have to put up with your dog. Keep them at home.

      • Craig – If the dogs bother you, stop going to these establishments. There are unlimited places that do not allow dogs for you frequent. If the business owners allow the dogs, that is their prerogative.

        • No, Julie, you have it backwards. These drinking establishments are for adults who pay money for a product, and were not built so dogs could lay all over the place and annoy the paying customers. If you must have your dog with you, don’t go to someone’s business with them where patrons have to deal with them.
          To correct you: These places are not unlimited, which is the entire point of the article above. These business owners are not allowed to have dogs, and the state of N.C. and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Health Department says it is NOT their prerogative at all. If you want it changed, go to Raleigh and lobby the legislature to have it changed years from now. For now, you can keep your dogs at home and not make others have to put up with them.

  8. When you’re a single female it’s nice to have your dog with you; especially out drinking. I’m from KY. West sixth is a brewery that has an activity room with a service window to allow dogs in that room only and you can still order a beer. I’m not sure if that would follow those guidelines but I’d be sad if this gets enforced in my state! Dogs need lots of socializing from a young age, so public places are necessary to expose them to lots of people on neutral ground and prevent them from getting nervous in large crowds. We just go during slow times so he doesn’t get in the way. It’s a treat for him to meet new people.

    • Doesn’t matter what the dog needs, it’s prohibited. If you feel unsafe going to a taproom without a dog, then maybe you should go somewhere you don’t feel so much at risk. If not, leave the dog at home. You can take it to a park or some other place to socialize where others don’t have to deal with it or be around it.

  9. I’m a long time pet person…long time. Here’s one perspective. I know you love your dogs. But this is not about you and your dog. It is about common sense health and cleanliness. Dogs will playfully approach strangers and jump up, sniff with wet noses or lick as friendly gestures. Not a good thing. If everyone were able to keep their dogs from doing this that would be great. Can’t be done. I know you think it’s cute and harmless, but I for one don’t. The same pet paw that jumped up at my knee may have just been walking through a pet run filled with you know what. And that licking tongue had licked elsewhere, I’m sure. Fine with me if that’s OK with you, but you should respect someone else’s right to not have to deal with that in a place where food and drink are served.

    • Mixed emotions on this one but sort of agree based on some recent experiences. I’m a dog lover (recently lost my golden retriever to cancer) and frequent local breweries quite often. Even love to see/pet well behaved dogs that are there. But it’s annoying at times to get a dog’s nose up my bum, jumped on with muddy paws, tripping over a leash or watch a dog take a pee INSIDE a tap room (yuck). Common response I’ve heard is “oh he’s harmless” or “just looking for some affection”. Sorry, but if you’re going to bring your puppy to a brewery, keep him under control. I know I’ll probably take some heat for this….but I’m the paying customer, not the dog.

      • This is why the state code is in place and should be enforced. Even though some pet owners don’t seem to be able to understand, but dogs are not human beings and are not considered sanitary. Health codes are very strict and are in place for a reason. It will now be up to the Charlotte breweries to enforce this with their customers. If not, then they will be the ones who are fined and cited for being in violation.

  10. How will this affect true dog bars such as Noda’s or Lucky Dog Bar? I assume they operate on the same business permits as breweries not serving food. Will this put them out of business? And how did the city not know this would be going on with a company name using “Dog” and “Bar?”

    • Hey Julie,

      I did ask Lynn Lathan (the environmental health inspector mentioned in the article) about that. She said that it looked like those dog bars were permitted as animal containment places and don’t have to abide by the codes of a food establishment.

      Thanks for reading!


  11. People hire a babysitter to watch their children when they want to get out of the house. Hire a petsitter if you need to get out of the house to drink so badly. Don’t drag your animal to a brewery to let other people entertain it for you just because you can’t stand to leave it alone at home to go out and get drunk.

    I almost saw a puppy get attacked at Sycamore because some young women let it run free and it got too close to a couple’s mastiff.

  12. A few yrs back when the economy was in trouble, the rules were changed in NC that stated that if you had outdoor seating that dogs could be present even if you served food. Restaurants, bars and breweries are businesses that are a key part of our economy. What is the difference between Lucky Dog ( A GREAT place) and TrippleC (another great place). What is going to happen is that people that work hard, spend money in our community will be at Lucky Dog. The ridiculous reason is because of a permit. Completely unfair to the breweries that are a vital part of our community, that contributes. The breweries realize that responsible dog owners are better for their business than those that don’t like dogs. If you do not like dogs, do not come. The breweries that the state so happily takes there new tax revenue need to get together and fight it. Very simple, change the license requirements. Of coarse that would be difficult for the lackies that work in government. If they do not have something to police, they do not have a job. How about the insurance companies that insure the breweries. They are the ones on the hook if there is an accident related to a dog. They are not complaining or restricting access. Charlotte is a great place. The city is well educated, safe, affordable and the people are very nice. Breweries have become a vibrant part of our economy and quickly changing culture. Don’t penalize these folks for carving a new and interesting path. Work with them and thank them for contributing.

    • Well Craig, that’s an interesting opinion, but it is not shared by a large number of patrons, contrary to what you think. The code is in place for a reason and it is not unfair to the breweries. They have to get the permit to open and operate and the health department has this attached to the permit because it is necessary. To say that the owners of breweries realize that dog owners are better than those who don’t like dogs is a ridiculous and unfounded statement. Where did you come up with such? How about if you must have your dog when you drink beer, stay at home and don’t come to a public establishment that is open because they have to follow codes and rules. It’s a business that serves alcohol to adults and pets and babies are not appropriate. Other paying patrons who are not dog owners/lovers have just as much right to be there as you do, and not have to put up with your pet while at a business.

      • Craig I really appreciate your comments throughout this thread and agree with everything you’ve said. Hope to see your comments more on this issue. Thank you!

  13. So children are allowed…children that may pee and poop amd have a diaper blowout or vomit. But i cant bring my dog thats house trained…

    Also, not everyone enjoys being around children. It would he nice to have more pet friendly amd not kid frienddly places to go.

  14. Just when I thought it might be possible to move forward in our thinking. Thanks Charlotte you prove once again your ignorance!!!!!

    • This is a concern for health reasons, as well as people who don’t want to deal with other people’s pets or have to be around them in a business where they are paying for a product.

      • I’ve never caught a cold or the flu from my dogs, but I have seen parents in public over and over again not correct their kids for coughing and sneezing with open mouths, and let their kids with snotty noses wipe their nose with their bare hands, then put their hands all over the furniture and tables and fixtures and door handles in a restaurant. Not to mention not making them wash their hands thoroughly after a bathroom visit.

        I personally don’t think a bar or brewery where you are literally there to drink and socialize with other adults is an appropriate place for a child. There’s nothing for the child to do, as this is a place for adults, and often the kids become restless (as one would expect) and wander off while the parents sit there, oblivious and uncaring.

        That being said, after observing my dogs when I’ve taken them to breweries, I’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t really enjoy it. The whole time they are straining against the leash trying to explore (which I don’t allow because I want to be courteous to other guests), and generally end up feeling frustrated. Just like the kids there! They don’t really get anything out of it, and the whole time I can’t really relax and enjoy myself because I’m keeping an eye on them and trying to calm them down. So I don’t take them–I take them to a place built for dogs—the dog park or dog bar.

  15. OK, so now at know – we need some common sense laws, defining these different business spaces and coming up with some rules that make sense. I wouldn’t want any but service dogs in a restaurant, but dogs are part of the charm of pubs and brew rooms. Unfortunately it will probably be up to the business owners to band together and make their case. But it’s a very reasonable case they’ll be making.

  16. Am I missing something here…they aren’t banning dogs indefinitely from the breweries, you just have to stay outside. Why is everyone complaining? Be grateful that you still have the option.

    • Because this is just another case of government superseding the rights of a business owner. I think the dogs should be able to smoke inside too.

  17. Considering most dogs don’t drink beer, craft or otherwise, why bring them? They’re not interested in lying there watching their human drink. There are plenty of places to take dogs to “socialize”. If you can’t find one, make one yourself. Find a safe area for them to run around or do whatever dogs do, invite other dog lovers with their pets and enjoy the time together. I have seen this done by some owners of Great Danes and it seems to work out quite well. And please stop taking your dogs shopping or work. They don’t have anywhere to keep their credit cards, can’t type or answer the phone. AND DON”T LEAVE THEM IN A HOT CAR while you go shopping, drinking, work, or anywhere else!

  18. Allow only bonafide service snimals that are wearing marked service their vests — excluding the Yorkie in arms whose “client” forgot to take her Xanax and deems Fido an anxiety service per. This is not France. Everyone dies not like dogs. Many humans are outright fearful of dogs. Just like humans, the very greatest dog can have an off-putting experience that triggers poor behavior. The prime function of a brewery is to sell alcohol and the combinition of alcohol and humans doesn’t always yield the finest behavior anyway So please leave the pooches in the comfort and safety of their homes.

  19. Funny, no one has mentioned another reason to not allow dogs into taprooms: allergies. I am very allergic to some types of dogs. In a public area, it won’t really affect my breathing, but if a dog licks my hand or presses it’s wet nose against my bare leg, I can get an itchy or even painful rash that lasts about an hour. And people drinking beer do not control their dogs, even if they think they are being good. Their attention drifts, and when the dog does something with a stranger, just being friendly I know, they pull the leash and mutter sorry, or maybe say nothing because we are all supposed to accept their animal as the best thing since sliced bread. It’s rude.

  20. I own a taproom. If you don’t like dogs go somewhere else to drink. If I get a B grade I won’t lose sleep.

  21. I was at The Pickled Peach in Davidson NC tonight a couple brings in a 10 to 15 year old Chihuahua I tell the manager that I’m upset about the dog being in the enclosed patio, is it ok for that ? The owner says it is a service dog because she needs it for support help. I myself doubt that is true.I think that it us a pet,
    how do you legally found out it is? Fyi the owner took there side and not mine, I will not be eating their again.


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