Why You Should Totally Take Your Kids to Breweries

Three great taprooms that may just be Parent Utopias

Thao Thai
Maddie Ballinger and Aiden Rabb play dominos while their parents Alex Rabb and Michael Ballinger hang out at Olentangy River Brewing Co.

While driving home from my daughter’s ballet class two summers ago, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a string of fairy lights. On further inspection, I saw a sprawling outdoor space with iron tables and a firepit, where families gathered with tacos from a food truck out front. Adults chatted over beers, while the kids did cartwheels in the grass. What was this Parent Utopia?

It was, and is, Olentangy River Brewing Co., one of my very favorite parts of living in the northern suburbs. The Lewis Center brewery offers over a dozen seasonal beers, on tap and in growlers and six-packs, with standout flavors like the Ol’n Tangy Margarita Gose, the Roosevelt Coffee Stout and my summer favorite, the Alum Creek Beach Blonde Ale. Alongside its delicious beer, ORBC (as it’s affectionately called by regulars) also serves Roosevelt Coffee Roasters coffee and espresso drinks as well as tea.

As for food, ORBC sells an array of fresh pastries baked by My Kitchen, alongside some prepackaged snacks like pretzels and chips. You can order in from any of the local restaurants or take advantage of a rotating lineup of food trucks, ranging from lobster rolls to barbecue. And on Sundays, the taproom hosts brunch trucks starting at 10 a.m.

It’s strange to evangelize about our family’s love of going to a taproom together, but this brewery has become one of our very favorite afternoon jaunts. The large seating area and expansive deck allows families to spread out, and the taproom seems designed for relaxing for hours. Indeed, I have rarely not seen a kid sitting at one of the tables, biting into a muffin with a ragged stuffie in tow. When our family goes to ORBC, we take advantage of the food trucks and bring our coloring supplies and board games. Many a fierce round of Go Fish has taken place in this taproom, and we feel as welcome there as at any kids’ play café.

I’ve always been a proponent of exposing one’s children to moderate and appropriate alcohol consumption, teaching them that there is a way to consume responsibly while enjoying the company of friends in a safe setting. Olentangy River Brewing Co. is just one of many family-friendly taprooms popping up, all of them promising wholesome fun for kids alongside entertainment for adults. So toss a bag of Goldfish crackers in that diaper bag and call up some friends. It really is possible to pass a carefree afternoon at a chill space that welcomes kids.

Two more taprooms that are kid friendly

If you’re looking for a scenic venue, look no farther than Henmick Farm and Brewery, a family-owned, Magnolia Silos-inspired space with soaring ceilings, a stone fireplace and a picturesque shaded porch. The beer at Henmick’s is among our favorites (try a flight to sample a few), and the outdoor space is truly made for kids. In Powell, Nocterra Brewing Co. offers a large taproom with a cozy vibe and generous outdoor seating. Food trucks are always available if you’re in a nibbly mood. One of the bartenders laughed, “There’s never a time when kids aren’t running around somewhere around here.”

This story is from the June 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.