Several people tipped me to this. According to the Oregon Brewers Festival website, after 19 years of it being a family event of sorts, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) will no longer allow minors at all at the Oregon Brewers Festival. Minors were allowed in previous years, though last year they were required to wear these ridiculous orange stickers. Not surprisingly, this has sparked a lot of discussion among the Oregon Brew Crew and on Beer Advocate’s forums. What did surprise me was that there were people out there who have so internalized the puritan propaganda of alcohol and children not mixing that they believe this is a good idea. That separating society into two parts, one that’s kid friendly and one that’s adults-only, is somehow a desirable way to orient the world.
Some of the most alarming are:
- “I’m sorry, but no one under 21 has any business being at an event with “brew festival” in the name.”
- “If I could afford micros over swill, I could afford a babysitter so that I could enjoy a brewfest without stress of watching my kids. There just has to be a better place to take the kids than something like a brewfest.”
- “Why would anyone want to have their kids in a place where people are drinking anyway? You never know what might happen and what you might expose your kids to. It’s also a pain in the ass having strollers all over the place or having to mind yourself or edit yourself because a kid is around. Drinking experiences are meant for adults. It’s no ones fault but your own if you choose to breed. Don’t punish the rest of us because you have to have everything cater [sic] to you because your [sic] a parent now.”
Wow, I find these comments pretty frightening and unenlightened. But let’s look at the sentiments themselves.
According to the first person, no family should ever attend a beer festival. It’s simply not possible. I apparently have no business being there with my wife and our two young children. I have to make a choice, it’s either beer or my family. I guess I can’t have both. Heaven forbid we spend a day in the sun by the river with a picnic lunch and enjoy some good beer, too. How dare I wish to share such an experience with my loved ones and show them how beer is an integral part of society, not something separate to be feared, avoided or worst of all, binged on after the arbitrary prohibition of age is removed. The nerve of me for wanting to show my children what responsible drinking looks like so they can model such positive behavior when they get older.
The second comment is even more of a head-scratcher. This person appears to assume that the only reason someone might take their family to a beer festival is they were too poor to afford a babysitter. Is is possible he can’t conceive of someone actually wanting to spend time with their children? If he finds parenting too stressful to involve his kids at a fest, by all means he definitely shouldn’t, but I don’t understand why he feels the need to restrict the rest of us who actually like having our family members around us. Are there better places to take the kids? Personally, anyplace my family can all be together is a great place. Sometimes we do things I want to do, sometimes the kids get to decide. That’s what families do, they take turns and share experiences so everyone’s life is a little richer and more varied. Just because I’m a parent now doesn’t mean I have to spend all my weekends at Chuck-E-Cheese.
But it’s the last one that really deserves attention, because it’s so unbelievably laced with ignorance and selfishness disguised as advocating freedom for adults. So, one by one, then.
Why would anyone want to have their kids in a place where people are drinking anyway? You never know what might happen and what you might expose your kids to.
Why would I not want my family to be where I am? Why would I care if adult things are taking place in the presence of my children? I make my living from alcoholic beverages, should I be ashamed of that and shield my kids from knowing what they are? What could I possibly “expose” my kids to that they can’t see on television. And frankly, what better place for them to be “exposed” to things than at a place where their parents are there to explain, interpret and teach them about life. I don’t understand the mentality that believes children must be locked away and protected from everything the world might throw at them. That’s how you raise a child who can’t deal with anything different, or adapt to new challenges and situations or is just plain afraid all the time.
It’s also a pain in the ass having strollers all over the place or having to mind yourself or edit yourself because a kid is around.
Ahh, poor baby. Now I’m really feeling bad for this person. She has to be inconvenienced by not having wide open spaces to walk around. There might be things in her way, restricting her free movement. She might have to take a couple of steps to one side and walk around a stroller. Wow, what a hard life she has that she’s actually concerned about how that effects her and makes her life so difficult. And why does she feel she has to act or speak differently if children are around? Does she normally swear like a drunken sailor when there are no children about? And now I’ve burdened her by bringing my kid within earshot of her so that she feels like she has to think of another way to talk, and I can just imagine how difficult that must be. Assuming for a moment that I care if she swears around my kids — I don’t — is it such a burden to her delicate sensibility that she has to express herself more genteelly?
Drinking experiences are meant for adults. It’s no ones fault but your own if you choose to breed. Don’t punish the rest of us because you have to have everything cater [sic] to you because your [sic] a parent now.
Wow, it’s my own “fault” I chose to start a family. I hope she’s not still blaming her parents for making a similar decision. Apparently I’m punishing her because I decided to further the human race. I suppose we should all be pleased that this particular person chose not to breed. In a later comment, she actually claims to still “love” the little tykes, just not if they’re in her way or are a buzzkill to her having a good time. Without getting too melodramatic, what does she think would happen to the future of the human race if everyone decided to just get drunk and not have children, which is apparently her ideal society. Because ostensibly wanting a world where both children and adults can co-mingle is a selfish desire.
Where exactly did she get the idea that “drinking experiences are meant (exclusively) for adults?” Travel to almost any nation on the earth and you’ll find in a majority of them that alcohol and entire families coexist quite seamlessly, and with far fewer problems with binge drinking than we experience. But that’s the price our society has to pay. Keep children from seeing responsible drinking and make it the huge forbidden taboo that it is, and you see what happens. Not only does it create adults who can’t see the value in teaching their children how to be adults and engage in so-called adult activities responsibly but you also create people so selfish that to suggest that they might have to curb their behavior in public is akin to them being punished. What a tough life this woman has that she can’t stand to be dictated how to behave because there are children present. Does it mean that she walks through life avoiding children so that she can be herself and not mind what she says or what language she uses? Are there no adults that might not appreciate her endless cacophony of profanity she feels free to use in kid free zones? She must be a joy to be around.
Happily, not everyone is like this woman. Many people do see the OLCC’s draconian laws for what they are. For example.
Though I have but one wee one, I have LOVED the fact that my family — all 3 of us — can partake in my passion the last weekend of July. We always have gone just as the festival opens on Saturday — when the lines are non existent and the college “let’s get smashed” crowd is still comatose from the night before. While there will always be irresponsible morons where ever you go, for the most part it’s a wonderful family experience.
I just don’t buy your argument that if we can afford micros, we can afford a baby sitter. Drinking the good stuff is a passion and a luxury and it’s BECAUSE it’s a family event that I can afford the indulgence.
We hear it over and over and over again, but I can’t stress enough my belief that responsible drinking starts at home and there is NOTHING wrong with including families in events where alcohol is present. Though there may be drunken boobery as far as your eyes can see, the real young ones will only pay attention to what YOU are doing. And if what they see is an adult drinking beer responsibly, then THAT is what they will learn.
I love Oregon and the fact that, for the most part, Portland is a pretty enlightened society, but rulings like this are an embarrassment and a reminder that, great as it is, our lovely city really isn’t THAT much different from the rest of the country.
One aspect this debate also overlooked is that the OLCC does allow minors to be present at wine events. For example, as one brew crew member relates.
The OLCC discriminates against beer drinkers as they allow kids to wine events. There will be 65 wineries at the Oregon Seafood & Wine fest next weekend and kids are welcome. Please don’t hesitate to let them and your governor know how you feel being unfairly treated as a beer slob, instead of as a wine snob!
So it’s not really enforcing Oregon’s minor posting law as the OLCC claims, or else children would not be permitted at any event that is predominately a drinking event as the law states. It’s again about unfairly treating beer as a negative in society while allowing wine to be perceived as a positive. How else to explain it?
Or as legendary beer writer Fred Eckhardt put it:
This is the same jerk who ruled that the Great American Distillery Festival could only allow THREE (that’s right THREE) quarter ounce tastings of the distilled liquors there. THREE. This at a festival where one could then BUY as many full strength mixed drinks as he/she wished for, while appearing sober, but sane sampling? Forget it. These guys have far too much power. IT’S A CLASS ACT IN STUPIDITY. THE OLCC IS regulating these things in a PUNITIVE MANNER. That’s not rational. If this A**hole would check he’d find that no self respecting child on the planet would drink anything as hoppy and dark and roasty as ANY craft beer. Kids don’t like this kind of beer. Like dry wine, it’s an acquired taste and it doesn’t really come until one is almost old enough to graduate from College.
The fact is that very few of the bigger beer festivals, in this country at least, do allow minors so there really aren’t that many opportunities to annoy non-breeders by traveling with our children. So it’s especially troubling to see one of the few that still was relatively kid-friendly change to adults-only. Frankly, I think this sends the wrong message about beer. It should not be restricted and separated from society because it is a part of society. To pretend otherwise is dishonest and does society a great disservice.
If you’ve been to the OBF, as I suspect many who’ve commented have not, you’d know it’s held in a very large space with big circus-sized tents and large open grassy areas overlooking the Willamette River. There’s plenty of room for both adults and families with children. There is plenty of food available and other activities, as well. It could easily be turned into much more of a family event if not for neo-prohibitionist agendas. The irony that this debate is raging around Portland should not be lost on anyone. There are more breweries within Portland’s city limits than anywhere else in America, meaning a good portion of the town’s economic health can be attributed directly to beer. Usually following the money would lead you to a government that actually cares about an industry contributing to its fiscal stability. But the wild card here is prejudice. Prejudice against vice, against the perception that beer is a social evil. And the number one tactic of neo-prohibitionist groups, as well as many other similarly misguided causes, is that old canard of protecting the children. As I’ve said many times here before, don’t you believe it. Family values is a euphemism for imposing a rigid set of values on everyone else. Because the truth is every family has its own set of values. And mine include enjoying a sunny day at a beer festival along with my wife and kids. Will my being there ruin the experience for someone else? If it’s that woman I’m punishing with my wanton procreation, I certainly hope so.