Many breweries welcome man’s best friend (above), but many places are having to put their foot down due to unruly fur babies and their inconsiderate owners | Credit: Photo provided

“Rules” — the five-letter word that I’d venture to say the vast majority of people find ways to bend or completely break. Because it’s human nature. The word itself likely invoked some kind of feeling in you just now. As children, we are taught basic manners of behavior in public. But as adults, especially when alcohol is involved, the rules seem to go right out of the window.

Let me set the stage. Google “breweries near me.” A plethora of locations pop up. So you start scrolling and decide on a location that meets your needs. Maybe your need is “kid-friendly” or “dog-friendly.” Maybe it’s both! And so you and your progeny and your fur-progeny set off into the day to patronize said location. You arrive. Take a look around and decide, “this looks like a good place to unpack and relax.” And so you do.

As a brewery manager, I can collectively speak for the majority of us when I say, we want you to relax. We want you to have a good time. We want you to enjoy the beer, the atmosphere and everything else that comes with visiting our locations.

Brewlab bartenders Shane Halse (left) and Morgan Pace want you to enjoy your visit … just follow the rules

Recently, we’ve seen brewery owners and managers taking to social media to air some grievances. This usually results in something being banned. You’ve probably even seen an uptick in a number of breweries posting “rules” for all to see at the location and on social media.

I reached out to our beloved “Charleston Beer Enthusiasts” Facebook group again recently to ask, “What are the rules, exactly?” I also spoke with many beertenders, managers and other patrons in the community.

Here are the results.

Kid control

This one might rub a few people wrong, naturally. But it is worth mentioning because unruly children are the No. 1 thing that will clear a taproom. And it’s understandable from both sides why this is a hotly debated topic.

Breweries historically are adult places. But recently, breweries across the country have become literal playgrounds to be more inclusive of those with children. Suddenly, full jungle gyms are popping up. And that’s fine. But here are some thoughts from your friends in the local community.

“If you can’t control your kids, don’t bring them.” —Charleston-area beer lover Jennifer LeGrand-O’Brien

“Don’t be the A-hole with feral children ruining everyone else’s visit as your kids reenact Lord of the Flies. Well-behaved kids are always welcome. Good parenting is hard. Heck, buy the parents of well-behaved kids a beer. If you take offense
to this, you just might be the A-hole.” —Charleston-area beer enthusiast Tim Price

Low Tide Brewing had to post a sign with the brewery’s expectations of parents with children in tow

“Breweries have become a modern-day daycare. Parents are on one side of the brewery and children are just running around wild. We, childless people, would like to enjoy our beer in peace.” —Anonymous

Earlier this year, Low Tide Brewing posted a sign stating, “Attention Parents” that had a list of expectations for their patrons with children. Their social media stated, “We love kids, however, our main priority is making sure patrons 21+ are enjoying their experience at our brewery.”

Dog control

This is most definitely the second main reason that patrons will stop visiting a taproom. Overall, Charleston is one of the more dog-friendly cities in the country. We love them like we love our children. But unfortunately, there are also some bad/unattentive dog parents out there. Breweries like Holy City Brewing, Low Tide Brewing and Tradesman Brewing have adopted either a no-dog policy or dog owners must sign waivers of liability.

“I wish people didn’t allow their dogs to sit up at the tables,” said Charleston beer enthusiast Tammy Lamb. “I don’t think these people let their dogs sit at the dinner table at home so why do it at the breweries.”

“Be mindful of your kids, your dogs, cats or whatever else you bring to the brewery that isn’t paying for beer,” added Travis Zeiset, a Charleston brewery patron.
There are a couple things that HOPS would like to add:

  • It is hot in Charleston. If you bring your dog out with you, be prepared with a towel or mat for your dog to lie on. You wouldn’t want to lie on the hot concrete.
  • Also, bring your own water bowls. While many places do keep some on hand, it is not their responsibility to keep your pup cool and hydrated.
  • And for everyone’s sake, if your pup is on the vocal side, be mindful of those trying to listen to music, play trivia and other things happening around you.

Flights, tasters and glassware

For regular brewery goers, flights are the best way to sample multiple beers in small ounce pours rather than committing to a whole pint. And a good beertender will absolutely love helping a patron choose the best flight for them based on their preferences. However, flights take twice as long as the average pint to pour. Here are a few thoughts from your local beertenders and fellow patrons.

“When asking for samples, choose one or two max. Or just get a flight,” said Palmetto Brewing’s Leslie Isaksen. In other words, don’t run your beertender back and forth sampling five or six beers. It’s rude and an unnecessary waste of time.

Local beer enthusiast Andy Hutt added, “Be considerate of those in line behind you. Don’t ‘sample’ five different beers before settling on one.”

And local Facebook beer enthusiast Tony Williams agrees, “If it’s super busy and you can see there’s a line behind you waiting to order, maybe think about ordering something other than a flight?”

Another general rule regarding glassware: Be a peach and return your empty glassware to the bar when you come to get a new beer or tab out. Not only does it help keep flies away, but it helps the staff clean faster and provide more prompt service.

Patron Dee Collins added, “Just buy one [glassware]. Don’t steal one. It helps more than one way to support local.”

Some general considerations

Ah, the old rules of thumb — treat others how you’d like to be treated. Keep your hands and feet to yourself. Mind your manners. Have general consideration for others around you. Technically, all of the rules above fall into this category. Somehow or another, we as a society have become very wrapped up in ourselves and the immediate world of us. Let’s take a look at other ways to be a good patron.

“If we’re busy, maybe try and not hold up the bartenders with lengthy conversation. We love to talk to our customers but when we have a full house, we want all of our customers to be given timely service,” said Mackenzie Reep, Brewlab beertender.

Another observer added, “If you walk into a tasting room with a ‘I’m going to try and stump this bartender with my extensive knowledge of beer’ attitude, the only person impressed is yourself, and you will be treated worse than the worst.”

Remember that beertenders are generally making $2.13 an hour plus tips. They rely on tips to make their wages.

Finally, here are four rules that breweries should follow:

  1. Update and follow your posted hours.
  2. Be knowledgeable about your product.
  3. Have a water station.
  4. Offer printed and online menus.

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