Dogs and kids are such a common feature at craft beer tasting rooms that you’d think IPAs, saisons and stouts were also available in bowls and juice boxes. Many would consider it a serious blow to the laid-back vibe at brewery tasting rooms if the dog thing ever changed.
Well, it has … in Denver, one of the great craft beer capitals and home to the Great American Beer Festival. It seems the health department there classifies beer as food, and everybody knows canines are not allowed to hang out in restaurants – as ridic as that may seem to dog lovers like me. A recent health inspector run-in turned everything upside down in the mile-high city.
Could a dog ban happen in Sacramento? Well, it has … at one craft brewery, at least.
No, the health department here doesn’t treat craft brewery tasting rooms as restaurants. But nothing says individual breweries can’t determine who – or what – is allowed to come through their doors. At Loomis Basin Brewing, dogs and kids are not part of the equation.
“We pulled the plug on the whole dog thing three or four years ago. It’s kind of a shame,” said co-owner Kenny Gowan. “It comes down to the behavior of 1 percent of the people who ruin it for everybody else. We didn’t have any incidents, but people were bringing in big dogs with those extendable leashes on busy nights. It was a liability issue. We were worried our servers could trip and fall.
“We just drew a line in the sand. It’s the same with having to be over 21.”
Sure, dogs can wait in the car (if it’s cool and shady), but it’s probably not a good look – or all that legal – to do that with little humanoids.
Gowan, who has two young kids himself, said the same 1 percent rule applied to parents – some just weren’t minding their kids and he grew concerned about liability issues. He knew it wasn’t going to be popular. Frankly, they’d have to inform well-meaning customers with dogs and/or kids that they couldn’t come in. People were bound to get angry.
Things have basically settled down in Loomis, but there’s still the occasional one-star Yelp review that Gowan says is tied to the dog/kid ban.
Fortunately, Loomis Basin makes very fine beer and business is doing so well that the brewery is about to open a second location – Loomis Basin Brewing Gastropub & Smokehouse, 3640 Taylor Road, Suite C, in Loomis. It will be a family-friendly eatery and pub, though dogs are still a no-go. Maybe the third location could be a doggy day care, tasting room and bounce house! It ticks all of the boxes.
The second business is 30-45 days from opening. Turns out, Gowan geeks out on barbecue and has purchased a $15,000 smoker to cook various meats low and slow. We’ll have more information here when it gets ready to open.
No beer for you, geezer
A few weeks ago, this column ran a tidbit about Sactown Union’s policy of carding everyone who tries to get in. We didn’t send in 63-year-old Bee reporter Bill “Even my kids are too old to get carded” Lindelof undercover to test the policy. No, he and his wife happened to be out riding their bikes when they decided to drop in on the spur of the moment. He had some cash but left his wallet at home.
When he was unable to produce a driver’s license, Lindelof was turned away. Sadly, he did not get to taste the terrific beer, including the Centennial Falcon pale ale, which would go on to win a gold medal at the West Coast Invitational a few weeks later. Sactown Union had said it had been carding everyone on orders from law enforcement.
Turns out, state law prohibits serving alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21. This much we know. “But there is no law that says you have to card anyone. There are good and safe practices that are recommended, but there is no law,” said Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association.
One of the privileges of losing your hair, getting crows feet, wearing dad jeans and having six pairs of eyeglasses is you no longer have to pull out your ID to enjoy a nice craft beer. Good judgment should never go out of style.
Sactown Union co-owner Quinn Gardner promptly and wisely blew up the “card everyone” policy. When I recently tweeted about the carding topic, Bike Dog Brewing co-owner Sage Smith replied, “The penalties for serving underage are harsh. You can be overly cautious and hard-line or use common sense and not annoy people.”