Hey fellas, it’s been awhile. Finding the time to drink, let alone blog about drinking, while you have a goofball under the age of 5 clinging to you is hard. Now that my mini-me is nearly 8 months old, I feel comfortable enough sitting in the spare room listening to the crashing, crying and squealing without jumping up to take care of everything myself. I know Rowan’s dad can handle him, and in fact he works a 4 day work week just so they can hang out together on Fridays, but when I’m around, I’m a total buzzkill. “Maybe the baby shouldn’t use a fork to hit a glass.” I’m finally getting over myself and don’t think I’m the only person who can properly care for my child, but mother does know best, and I’ll probably go “heat up my coffee” at least 3 times before I finish writing this post.
The beer community here in Eugene is BOOMING. Seriously doubling or possibly tripling the number of breweries, taphouse and growler fill stations in the course of the last year with quite a few more set to open in the next year. So much so that a lady that used to be on top of the local beer scene is struggling to even hit up a fraction of the new joints in town. Another thing to note about the beer scene in Eugene, and pretty much every city I’ve visited, is that it is incredibly family friendly. Lucky for me. It can be a little overwhelming at first, though. Not every tap house allows minors and while the argument “you’ve got to be kidding me! Last month he was inside me and I could come in, but now that his assed out in a car seat, it’s a no-go? C’mon!” gets sympathetic nods from barkeeps that just don’t want to get into an altercation with a new mama, it really doesn’t do you any good (and it makes you look kind of crazy, mamas. Trust me). So I’ve got a few tips for the beer swilling parents out there on how to responsibly go a brewery cruisin’ with the wee ones. And since mine only crawls, all bets are off at the toddling phase. I’ll update in 6 months if I haven’t pulled all my hair out by then and become a recluse with a one year old.
First, if your little one is still car seat bucket sized, or under 4 months, you’re in luck. That sucker will sleep anywhere. Stick the seat safely away from drunk old ladies who like to pinch sleeping baby thighs, or better yet, pop ’em in a soft carrier. I finally got an Ergobaby when Rowan was 7 months and although it’s rare he’ll pass out in it, he can’t be his normal spastic, crazy self when swaddled to my chest. It’s great. Secondly, a food source, a toy and spare diaper are a must. Because when baby starts losing it, you can very rarely get them to simmer back down without one of the aforementioned items. And if baby isn’t having it, don’t be a jerk. Chug, close out, and get out of there. Your kid is, ultimately, more important than your social life. And the brewery/taphouse/tasting room will appreciate you for it.
As a mom beer lover, I’ve found that I have a mental list of all the minor friendly beer halls around town and how late each allows minors in their establishments. Some of my favorites are Agrarian Ales, located outside of Eugene between Harrisburg and Coburg. This place is great, it’s located on a hop farm and the tasting room/brewery are all in an old converted barn. Oregon Wood Fired Pizza is usually their slinging pies and they have a cozy little screened in porch for their seating area with room for little bands to come and play. Plusses for a baby include: a long 30 minute drive that usually means a little nap before heading in, it’s warm and dimly lit, so there is a chance he might pass out in the carrier or remain docile, babies love music, and the folks at the tasting room are often a little older and gaga about getting our skeptical little man to smile. Facebook says they close at 8, but I’ve never been there that late to know if it is a hard and fast rule, but minors are allowed until then.
Oakshire and Ninkasi are within a couple blocks of each other in the Whit and both allow minors until 8pm. Oakshire is great during the winter months because of the large tasting room, featured music and selection of food carts. Ninkasi has a smaller tasting room, but a fantastic patio (which is probably why parents are there with their run-around-screaming aged kids frequently) with an even better fire pit. If the night is warm or it’s day time, Ninkasi is the place to be. They also feature a lot of different food carts, some live music (although, unlike Oakshire and Agrarian featuring mostly unplugged, blues rock, Ninkasi is usually a lot louder so consider that if it is a live music night), and again, that patio.
Bier Stein is a local bottle shop/restaurant/taphouse that allows minors until 9. Although we don’t usually make it that late because bedtime is 7:30, it was great during the summer when Rowan was still a “I’ll sleep anywhere, I don’t care” under 12 week old. Bier Stein includes cooler upon cooler of bottles of beer, mead, wine, and non alcoholic drinks as well as a simple, yet delicious food menu that revolves around their delicious bier cheese soup and tasty grilled sandwiches. The tap list is displayed on impressive flat screens with pricing, glassware, and keg situation information. That’s right, if your fave beer is getting critically low, that is displayed so you know to grab two!
My last two picks for favorite kid friendly drinkeries are 16 Tons Cafe and Falling Sky (both locations). The 16 Tons Cafe has a dozen taps, a nice bottle list and simple, but tasty food menu, not to mention an excellent cafe for those coffee drinkers out there. 16 Tons has a second location, their bottle shop and taphouse, but sadly, that is not baby proof. And finally, Falling Sky, one of my favorite breweries and lunch/brunch spots in town. They have the brewery and Pub location which serves their beer and delicious pub food that is so much more than pub food. They have a focus on local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients which means the menu is always changing. Their newer second location is a Jewish style delicatessen and pour house that also features cocktails. The reuben at the deli is insane, featuring house made everything from the pastrami and sauerkraut to the bread. It’s just so so so good. Falling Sky has also recently started offering delivery via bike! A very cool perk that I may have to take advantage of right now because I can’t get that reuben out of my mind. Both Falling Sky locations are insanely family friendly and boast cabinets of board games and toys, the deli even has a sandbox in the back! We brought Rowan to the FS Pub house when he was a couple of days old and they were incredibly gracious, I even got a free beer in honor of their youngest customer. Both Falling Sky locations and 16 Tons Cafe allow minors until 10pm.
Cheers to all the beer swilling parents out there! Don’t let the dirty looks of the uninitiated stop you. You and your baby need time out of the house, hanging with folks and supporting local businesses, so get out there and try some of your old favorite beer haunts, they’re probably more family friendly than you think.