By law, patrons must be over the age of 21 to purchase alcohol at any Asheville-area taproom, but as frequenters of such establishments well know, individuals who don’t meet that requirement often accompany legal adults out for a drink. Local breweries are welcoming across the board to families who bring children with them, and big, sprawling lawns at New Belgium Brewing Co. and Highland Brewing Co. are particularly welcoming for little ones wanting to run around and have fun with friends.
At the same time, several taprooms offer safe havens for those who would prefer to enjoy their beverages without youngsters present, including Highland’s rooftop bar — limited to those of legal age — and Wedge Brewing Co.’s 8 p.m. curfew for underage guests and other guidelines for families to follow.
Also frequently in tow are pets, though the rules with them are slightly more complicated than with children. Because North Carolina taprooms get permits the same way as restaurants — basically for offering reusable glassware — pets are not allowed inside, with the exception of licensed service animals. Dan Rossow, taproom manager at Wise Man Brewing in Winston-Salem, is spearheading efforts to enact change in the legislation.
Outdoor spaces at breweries are legally fine, albeit at the business owners’ discretion. In the case of Brouwerïj Cursus Kĕmē, located on the banks of the Swannanoa River, the property is home to an array of wildlife whose preservation led brewer/owner Jeffrey Horner to reluctantly prioritize over his customers’ animal companions.
“It was a tough choice to make because everyone wants to bring their pets when they go relax and enjoy themselves, but the property can’t facilitate that,” Horner says. “I dragged my feet as long as I possibly could about making that decision, and when I made it, it was without joy.”