Visiting a craft brewery with the kids? Yes, that’s a thing. It’s an option that’s popular in the US and gaining ground in Canada, as more craft breweries welcome families. Thunder Bay’s Sleeping Giant Brewing Company is opening its doors to families with both special events and a general “come on in” policy, in part because so many of its owners and staffers have young kids of their own.
The idea goes back to German beer gardens, which were friendly all-ages community hubs. Today, craft beer lovers, which include lots of 25- to 45-year-old parents of kids, often want the same vibe. “It’s about responsible drinking in front of the kids,” says Maureen Mills, SGBC’s events and taproom manager. “We find people are into tasting, not serious drinking. They’re appreciating the ingredients and the art and craft of beer-making.” Many of the families visiting SGBC’s taproom are a weekend crowd from Wisconsin and Minnesota, where family visits to breweries don't raise eyebrows, but TBay families are starting to come too. It’s open seven days a week.
Here’s what you need to know to plan your visit.
Hang out in the taproom
In addition to all those shiny tall vats, SGBC’s tap room has a number of tables and chairs and two high chairs, plus games like giant checkers, a ring toss and a kids’ area with colouring books and other activities. There is a change table in the wheelchair accessible bathroom.
There isn't a dining room, but there are snacks for sale, like locally made cheese curds, pepperettes and pretzels. You are also very welcome to bring your own picnic to the taproom to enjoy along with one of 15 brews on tap, or order food for delivery for a pizza-and-beer night. Or, call or check social media to see when a local food truck will be parked outside. The bar stocks juice boxes and root beer and there’s also a self-serve water station with plastic cups. In the works, but not yet available: housemade root beer and cream soda.
Check out family-specific events
SGBC is hosting its first “Parents and Pints” events on August 12 and 26, 2017, 11am to 3pm. Child-minding (supervised activities on the second floor mezzanine) is included in your entry fee. Past family-friendly events include “Hoppy Easter,” which had an egg hunt and petting zoo with bunnies, and Canada Day party with kids’ activities and an acrobatic aerial silks display. Also coming up: family days on Sundays, where parents can sip a beer while keeping their kids company as they do a craft like making a bird house or painting a pet rock.
Sleeping Giant Brewing Company
712 Macdonell Street, Thunder Bay
Sleeping Giant Tap Room on Facebook