The following post originally appeared over at BS Missoula, a satirical social commentary/news blog a buddy and I started last fall. Check it out. Since that's where most of my writing priority has been recently (and the major reason why this blog has suffered), I figured I'd be even lazier and link the two:
It’s no mystery that we here at BS Missoula enjoy our beer. Preferably cold and homegrown, but hell, I’m not picky. On a hot summer afternoon when the cooler’s suddenly gone empty, I’ll pick an abandoned Bud Light (undoubtedly jettisoned from the cooler of another float party) up off the river bottom, wipe the slime of the top, and knock ‘er down. You do what you can to get by these days.
I digress. I love microbrews, and of all the fine breweries we have in this town, I’m not alone when I say I prefer Kettlehouse beers over the rest of the lot. Their beers are tasty, well-made, and downright effective at their intended purpose. I would argue that a good Double Haul hangover rivals the most vicious of mornings following a whiskey binge.
So when the Kettlehouse opened their new Northside brewing operation/tasting room this past year, I, along with many of my fine beer swilling compatriots in this town, rejoiced. A Northside resident at the time, I could think of no better scenario than a sparkling new K-Hole a mere block and a half away from my house. Their new place is swanky: a tastefully-designed blend of old and new in one of Missoula’s most historic neighborhoods. There’s plenty of room to gather in the wood and brick structure, the place reeks of hops, and the bubbly potion flows from the taps every evening until 8pm. It’s glorious.
But something has happened inside the Northside brewery since those first opening days last year, before there were any tables, or an espresso stand, or anything filling the giant empty space, save for a couple dozen brew enthusiasts standing around imbibing.
Call it a Missoula thing, or a Northside thing. Whatever the case, the place has turned in to a daycare center for young Missoula couples hopping to knock a few back with their toddlers in tow, and frankly, it pisses me off.
The historically-accepted policy surrounding bars and other places that serve alcohol is that they are for adults. Hell, a lot of bars in this fine country have big signs on the doors, inside the place, behind the bar, etc. that read “No one under 21 permitted.” You know why? Because drinking in the States is illegal if you’re under 21, and it’s generally agreed upon that drinking gets you drunk, people do stupid shit when they’re drunk, and therefore it is left to the adults, who can be held responsible for their actions, when they do stupid shit when they’re drunk.
I’ve never been to a bar in my life where I needed to worry about tripping over a Tonka truck, much less a three-year-old. So it can only be explained as a uniquely-Missoula phenomena that it is now acceptable to drag the whole entourage: kids, dogs, strollers, toys, etc, down the street to the local watering hole to knock back your allocated 48 ounces of Cold Smoke. Am I the only one to whom this does not make sense? Are you parents not the least bit concerned about the negative influences and potentially dangerous situations your child may be exposed to when you allow them to crawl around on the floor of a bar for a couple of hours? I personally do not go to the bar to mind my step, watch my language, or pull the Good Samaritan card and keep someone’s toddler out of trouble while Mommy goes to the bathroom, nor do I feel I should have to.
Word has it that Kettlehouse management has received complaints about the now nearly-constant population of munchkins running around their new tasting room. That’s because crying, toddler tantrums, and unwieldy games of throw-the-ball-across-the-room do not belong in a bar. Call me an asshole if you like, and no, I am not a parent, so I don’t know what it’s like to have young children and still try to satisfy your passion for good beer and camaraderie. But I do know that little kids don’t belong in bars, Northside Missoula or not.
I fear the day one of these little critters gets tripped over, or falls down and hurts themselves, or wanders out the back door and down the railroad tracks of the Northside because Dad is busy yakking it up with his buddies about how sick the Bowl was today. I don’t want to see little people get hurt, much less have one of my favorite beer drinking establishments get boarded-up because of a lawsuit stemming from irresponsible parenting. I feel especially sorry for you if you actually drove there…and are planning on driving your family home after your beer card is full. Come on parents, this is why they make babysitters and Kettlehouse beers in cans.