I don’t really like beer. When ordering one I generally seek out the beer that tastes the least beery. I hate everything about hops (the smell, the taste, the way the ugly plant takes over our back fence every summer). And sour beers make my jaw ache. For me, beer is at its best when mixed with Sprite (like a shandy) or fruit syrup (like this Swiss thing called bier peche that may or may not be entirely invented by my friend). So if you’re reading this in hopes of an informed critique of greater Boston’s best beers, I apologize.
I do, however, know more than I’d like to about greater Boston breweries, because I’m married to a hop-growing home brewer whose favorite weekend activity is cycling around and sampling new brews. Since we now cycle with a toddler in tow, I can be relied upon to know which breweries will welcome and adore little ones and which are best when the kids are left at home. Let’s explore:
This place is busy, full of hipsters, and does not serve food or have high chairs. Its limited seating is mostly high tops, which my daredevil toddler loves but which make me nervous. The hallway to the bathroom makes for a good toddler exercise area and there’s a piano they can “play,” provided you don’t mind aggravating hipsters and giving toddlers a bad name. So, probably not the best young kid destination. However, keep an eye on their calendar, as in the summer they hold occasional off-site events with food trucks in a parking lot that conveniently abuts a playground.
Cambridge Brewing Company (Cambridge)
CBC feels more like a restaurant than a brewery. They have high chairs, an extensive dinner (and lunch and brunch) menu and serve drinks other than beer! I’m not crazy about the food and my husband isn’t crazy about the beer, but it’s an easy place to take kids — plus, the outside patio area is great in the summer.
Notch Brewing and Tap Room (Salem)
This brewery and tap room has booth seating and, although there are no high chairs, they do have room enough to bring your stroller in and park it next to your table. There’s a fenced-in beer garden out back beside the canal (where dogs are also allowed), and while they don’t serve a full dinner menu, there were pretzels and other snacks enough to keep our son quiet while I drank the least hoppy beer they had to offer. At our last visit they also had a bar maid who spent about 20 minutes playing peek-a-boo with my 2-year-old. Free entertainment!
Jack’s Abby (Framingham)
Jack and his wife, Abby (see what they did there?!), have young children themselves, and you can tell — this new(ish) beer hall in Framingham is super family friendly and has tons of high chairs and a full dinner/lunch menu as well as snacks. It’s always fairly busy and comfortably noisy, so no eyebrows will be raised at an exuberant toddler or three. The hallway to the bathroom is perfect for racing up and down (according to my son), and one pretzel can last two beers.
The cooler younger sibling to Jack’s Abby, Springdale has a no-kids-allowed policy! If your little one can still be strapped to you, they may let you in, but it’s a firm no-go for toddlers and older kids. It’s great for a date night though — plenty of old-school arcade games as well as billiards and corn hole. And you can order from the Jack’s Abby pizza menu.
Treehouse is closer to Springfield than it is to Boston, and I include it as a warning to all of you married to beer enthusiasts. Allegedly worth it for the beer, this place is basically a very long line you wait in to buy beer to take away. There are port-a-potties, and that’s about it. The grounds are picturesque, so you can enjoy some scenery while you try to stop your son from diving into the fish pond as your partner waits peacefully in line. And then you can enjoy the 90-minute ride back home. Forewarned is forearmed.
The American Fresh Brewhouse Beer Garden(Slumbrew) at Assembly Row in Somerville and their brewery/taproom also in Somerville needs to be on this list! Owned by parents and completely kid friendly (their American Fresh beer garden location even has a kids playspace) they are probably the most family friendly brewery in the area and a must visit for beer loving families. They hold family friendly events with musicians, have board games, toys, and kid-friendly food items on their menu.
Good tip! We’ll try to check it out next time we’re out that way. Thanks!
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