Weigl: Take your tyke and lift a pint at ‘Beer and Babies’

andrea.weigl@newsobserver.comJune 20, 2012 

I’m at a point in my life where I consider it a success if I can get out of the house for a social event with my baby in tow.

And so I was intrigued when Tyler Huntington, owner of four Tyler’s Taprooms from Raleigh to Carrboro, mentioned to me last fall that a “Beer and Babies” group meets regularly at the Durham location.

I decided to give it a try, and so there I was on Saturday afternoon, enjoying a pint of Warsteiner with my 8-month-old in a baby carrier strapped to my chest. (Let me say that I believe responsible adults – even parents! – can enjoy a beer or a glass of wine and still be responsible adults.)

I joined about a dozen parents sipping New Belgium and Scrimshaw beers on Tyler’s patio. A dozen children, ages 3 to 10, ran around outside, playing cornhole. Several dads who are into home brewing, one holding his daughter’s pink purse, discussed their hops crop. The tables were littered with pint glasses, juice boxes and plastic cups of pink lemonade.

Mark and Jill Berrong of Durham were among the original members of the group, which started in 2005. Friends had taken them to lunch at Tyler’s when their now 7-year-old daughter, Natalie, was less than a year old.

After lunch, Mark Berrong eyed the restaurant’s dozens of beer taps and told his wife: “I’m not really ready to go.”

So the couple took their daughter into the restaurant’s back room or “speakeasy,” and eventually a handful of parents and children gathered there that afternoon. Conversations started over pints. Phone numbers were exchanged. And the “Beer and Babies” group was born.

Jill and Mark Berrong say none of those original four families had relatives in the area. And so those monthly Saturday afternoon gatherings became a parental support group. Their discussions, Jill says, would veer toward “here’s what my kid is doing right now.”

At one point, the group had close to 100 adults and children. Now, it’s an excuse for five families to get together.

What I loved about the group is this: My life seems to be divided in two these days. I’m either a reporter or I’m a mom. That leaves little time to feel like a wife or even a friend. If your friends don’t have children, you can feel guilty dragging yours along to a social outing.

But on Saturday, I was with people who are in the same boat. They want to feel like adults, have adult conversations and enjoy an adult beverage. And no one feels guilty about having their child at the party, because everyone does.

If you would like to join the Berrongs, their friends and add your offspring to that throng of children, the next gathering will be at 3:30 p.m. July 14 at the Tyler’s Taproom in Durham.

Weigl: 919-829-4848

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