Beer Garden Play Dates

Need something to do this weekend? Call a friend, hit your local beer garden, and watch the kids play all afternoon.

Feeling torn about whether or not this is okay? Understandable; it’s a hot topic in the parenting community and within the bar scene. But across the country, beer gardens are becoming go-to destinations for family outings.

Take the Die Stammkneipe/Der Schwarze Kölner beer hall (DSK) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, for instance. Parents can rent it on Saturday mornings for birthday parties or on weekday afternoons for a “Babies & Bier” playgroup. An additional $10 entry fee is required, and gets you soft pretzels, sparkling juice and beer.

“Moms are good business,” said DSK patron Chantal Martineau. “Who else is here in the middle of the day?”

Owner Randi Lockemann, who started the playgroup, says it’s a service the area needed. “There’s not really anywhere else to go when the weather’s bad. The only other play group near here is at a church.”

It seems ideal; you get to share a beer with friends and your kids play safely in sight. The only problem is that not everyone sees it that way.

Some patrons are agitated by noisy toddlers and screaming infants, suggesting that parents are treating beer gardens like their own backyards. Some establishments have tried to compromise, setting up windows of time for parents to rent out the space or creating curfews after which all kids have to be out.

Other cities have tried a hybrid technique: in 2012, Milwaukee introduced three beer gardens alongside soccer fields, jungle gyms and biking trails. Milwaukee resident Amber Storm likes the relaxed vibe among parents here. “We all need to take care of ourselves, and if that involves having a stein of beer with a friend — and your kid is safe and in eyesight — then it’s totally acceptable,” she says. (via New York Times)