Can you bring your baby to a brewery? It depends

Newfoundland and Labrador is exploding with craft beer fever, with 14 local breweries pouring pints from coast-to-coast and more on the way.

But for parents who want to taste some locally crafted ales, it can be a little confusing on whether or not their kids are allowed to come with them.

"There needs to be a straightforward policy and it needs to be better understood," said Allison Mullaly, a parent who was looking to quench her thirst at Landwash Brewery in Mount Pearl with her husband and infant, only to be turned away at the door. 

Mullaly said the family had been to other breweries in the province, and outside of the province, where having their child with them was never an issue, adding she met another parent on her way out of Landwash Brewery who said she was there only two days previous with her child and was allowed in.

Food service needed

Landwash Brewery owner Chris Conway says that at that time, the brewery's liquor licence didn't allow for kids to be inside during serving hours.

However, by adding a food truck to the establishment, it allowed for the brewery's licence to be amended to operate more like a restaurant.

"Right now in the province, if you did want to have children — any minor under the age of 19 — in your establishment you need to have food service," Conway said. 

"We worked really, really hard. My whole winter was spent trying to make sure that we could let kids in and not have to go around the legislature … the day we got the new licence that allowed kids in, we all really celebrated."

Important for business

Conway said tourists can't necessarily leave their kids in a hotel room if they wanted to stop in for a pint, and young couples can't leave their kids at home. 

Conway said that craft breweries in Toronto are packed with baby strollers on Saturday afternoons, and that Newfoundland and Labrador should look toward finding a solution in the current liquor laws.

Yellowbelly Brewery/Twitter

He said that some liquor laws in this province, as well as across the country, are so old that they still have remnants of prohibition in them.

But, Conway said he knows the virtue of patience, especially in a new and growing industry.

"It takes a while. If you look at Ontario, it took five years to get some reforms happening up there, and their industry started about 10 years ago," he said.

Keith Bartlett is with Ninepenny Brewing in Conception Bay South. 

He said there's a very narrow range of liquor licences that can be granted to establishments because the province's Liquor Control Act hasn't been updated since 1972.

Bartlett said it all depends on the brewery's layout, in terms of who gets what type of licence.

For example, because patrons have to leave Ninepenny's licensed facility to get their food at a truck outside, the brewery can't apply for a new licence in the way Landwash did.

The regulations

According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, craft breweries that sell opened beer for consumption on their premises hold what's called a lounge licence.  

"The primary purpose of a lounge licence is to sell and serve alcohol to members of the public that are of age. Unless specifically identified in legislation, minors are not permitted in lounges," a spokesperson for the NLC told CBC News in an emailed statement.

Ted Dillon/CBC

However, according to the NLC, legislation provides it with the authority to grant minors permission in lounges under circumstances such as the purpose of a meal.

A condition may be placed on a lounge licence to allow for minors to enter brewery tap rooms, accompanied by a parent or guardian, for the purpose of food between the hours of 9 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

"The purpose of this policy is to ensure that minors are only allowed in lounges (including some craft brewing locations) when there is a realistic purpose for them being there, such as having a meal with their family," the NLC said.

"This is similar in practice to facilities that have a restaurant licence but which also may serve alcohol. For facilities that only serve alcohol, no such purpose exists and current regulations do not allow minors in such facilities."

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