Should kids be at breweries? One taproom sets a curfew, and a frenzy ensues.

Should children be at breweries? Hi-Wire sets a 7 p.m. curfew for those under 21 at its Durham taproom.
Should children be at breweries? Hi-Wire sets a 7 p.m. curfew for those under 21 at its Durham taproom. Hi-Wire Brewing

The last call for kids at Hi-Wire Brewing’s Durham taproom is now 8 p.m., a new policy that sparked an online debate about when it’s appropriate to bring children to breweries.

The Triangle’s flourishing brewery scene makes taprooms weekend hotspots, and many families bring the kids along. It’s not uncommon to see children playing while parents imbibe. Some breweries even have hosted children’s birthday parties.

Hi-Wire Brewing, founded in Asheville, posted the rules on its Facebook page Tuesday, originally calling for a 7 p.m. curfew for children. In the post, Hi-Wire said it didn’t want to cut out the kids, just set some limits, making the taproom 21 and older at a certain hour.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the success and turnout and the outpouring of support in Durham,” said Hi-Wire creative director Javier Bolea in a phone interview Wednesday. “With that, adjustments need to be made for the overall comfort of all guests. We want everyone to have a great experience.”

But on Wednesday, after a full day of debate in the Facebook thread, Hi-Wire pushed back the limit one hour — to 8 p.m.

“We did listen to feedback,” Bolea said. “Those families that have kids, that want to come out for a couple pints and hit the food truck. We feel an extra hour gives families the opportunity to do that. They can pencil us in for dinner and pints without an age cutoff. With that said, we feel 8 p.m. is a pretty solid time to go to a more adult atmosphere.”

Hi-Wire initially said on Facebook they added the policy in response to complaints about unattended kids, calling 7 p.m. an attempt to strike a balance.

“Our decision to make the bar 21+ after 7 p.m. was not something we took lightly,” Hi-Wire said on Facebook. “By no means are we saying that we do not want families in our taproom (it’s quite the opposite), but unfortunately we’ve had some issues with large groups of unattended children and we’re hoping that an all-ages cutoff would be a good/fair compromise.”

The post also calls for children to be supervised by guardians at all times, according to the Facebook post.

Since opening in November, Hi-Wire immediately found its audience in Durham, hosting a circus-themed grand opening filled with hundreds of drinkers. There are two large areas for soccer pool (billiards with soccer balls) plus ping pong and Foosball.

Hi-Wire opened in Asheville in 2012 and is known for its wild and sour ales and crisp lagers.

Some supporting the policy thanked Hi-Wire for giving the bar back to adults.

“Thank you Hi-Wire Brewing at Golden Belt,” one commenter wrote. “The children running around out of control was getting a little crazy. Could you also do something about the abundance of birthday parties for 1-year-olds on the weekends? An adult brewery is not a Chuck E. Cheese.”

Others felt the policy unfairly restricted time parents could spend socializing with friends and their children, suggesting they might take their business elsewhere.

“My five-year-old is better behaved and far less annoying than a gaggle of drunk Duke kids,” wrote one

While there’s a healthy culture of bringing children to breweries in the Triangle, perhaps there’s a healthier one for brewery dogs. One commenter cut through the tension with a plea for the doggos of the Triangle.

“Your kids are stressing out my dogs,” they wrote, to the greatest number of reactions in the thread.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.