Although a number of Bay Area brewery tasting rooms and beer bars/restaurants allow children to visit, readers have asked about places with activities or spaces that make them especially kid-friendly. The best local example I have come across is Devil’s Canyon Brewing Co. in San Carlos.
Founded in 2001 by husband-and-wife team Chris and Kristiann Garrett, Devil’s Canyon expanded into its large San Carlos facility in 2013. With large indoor and outdoor spaces, Devil’s Canyon is a popular event space for parties, musical performances and fundraising events. It is only open to the general public on Fridays starting at 4 p.m., but the Friday gatherings are packed with families, and leashed dogs are welcome inside and outside the brewery building as well.
While the brewery is open every Friday, the last Friday of the month is “Beer Friday,” featuring a large selection of food trucks and live music performances. In addition, since 2011, the brewery’s Cheers for Charity program has donated a portion of “Beer Friday” sales to local charities, so you can enjoy your beers knowing that you’re helping support local nonprofit groups.
The spacious main brewery tasting room features a large musical stage, and an adjoining indoor space is specifically designed and decorated to make it a welcoming environment for children to play and run around. The large outdoor area has plenty of formal and informal seating – from picnic tables to large wooden spools – surrounded by space for several food trucks, along with more space for kids to be themselves while enjoying Devil’s Canyon’s craft-brewed root beer.
The root beer is mild, smooth, lightly sweet and well balanced, with pleasant spicy sassafras aroma and flavor. Mahogany in color with a medium cream-colored head, a medium-full body and moderate carbonation, the all-natural brew is sweetened with agave nectar and local honey. Adults also can ask for a McLovin, the alcoholic version of Devil’s Canyon’s root beer.
The flagship beer at Devil’s Canyon is its Full Boar Scotch Ale, which pours reddish brown with ruby highlights and a low white head. The aroma and flavor of the beer both focus on a toasty, malty sweetness with touches of caramel and cocoa, as well as a pronounced smoky character from the addition of peated malt.
Belle Sparkling Ale is a very light, clean, refreshing ale brewed with champagne yeast. It is very light gold and crystal clear in the glass, with a fizzy white head that dissipates quickly, and features a lightly sweet, almost cider-like character with a delicate dose of Noble hops.
Other core brews include California Sunshine RyePA, Deadicated Amber, Silicon Blonde Ale and Western IPA.
The brewery also features rotating selections, and I sampled the Beer Kitty Kolsch and the Belgian Tripel on a recent visit. The Kolsch was a very hazy golden color with a dense, long-lasting white head, and was dominated by herbal hops, without the classic clarity or crisp finish for the style. The tripel was golden-orange in color with a dense white head, and featured a strong ester profile of banana and pear, which blended well with citrusy hops and mild sweetness. Bitterness was substantial but not overpowering and persisted through the semi-dry finish.
Derek Wolfgram is a Certified Beer Judge and an officer of the Silicon Valley Sudzers homebrew club. For more information, visit sudzers.org.