Anybody who has kids and loves beer inevitably at some point will ask themselves that question:  Can I give my kids (-21) a sip of my beer?

As kids tend to emulate their parents/guardians, they do so by liking or at least striving to enjoy the same things their parents like.  For example, a child eating a bowl of rice cereal who observes his/her parent pour a bowl of the exact same cereal for themselves will undoubtedly momentarily abandon their bowl and petition their parent for a taste of the same thing from the parental bowl.  How can a parent, filled with love, help but oblige?

Take it a step further, a parent, who strives to see their child hold similar values, will find themselves offering their children the things they love, even if they are unsure that their children will find the same appreciation.  For instance, a few years ago I could not help but prompt my preschool aged son to taste a bit of raw, unadorned fish in the form of Nigiri sushi, certain he would resist, and if he accepted, certainly he would wrinkle his nose in disgust.  To my surprise, he gobbled it down and begged for more.

Inevitably, when a parent pours anything into a glass, the child asks for a sip, whether it be juice, coffee, goat’s milk, or beer.  With those puppy eyes looking up at us, how can we turn them down?  It is even more difficult for the home brewer who has allowed their child to help them create the beer.  If my son has helped me mash my grains, sparge, boil, and bottle, how fair is it to not allow him to have one innocent sip?

The loom of the law deters many.  We have all seen scare ads such as the one below that make us reconsider that the government (or at least the ad council who sponsored the creepy ad below) has a vested interest in our children that at times seemingly supersedes our own.

We all know the reasoning behind legislation that is aimed at preventing a youngster consuming alcohol is centered on the lack of personal responsibility or self control possessed by our little ones.  That’s why we hide the Easter basket full of candy after letting our kids choose a few pieces…they could easily consume the more than a few chocolate bunnies, an immoderate action that would quickly cause them abdominal pain and perhaps a mess for mom and dad to clean up.

We as parents  can take control over the Easter bunny, and the alcohol.  The State of Ohio recognizes such logic, and for now, the jurisdiction of parents on this matter.  From the Ohio Revised Code 4301.631 (F):

(F) No person shall sell or furnish any low-alcohol beverage to, or buy any low-alcohol beverage for, an underage person, unless given by a physician in the regular line of his practice or given for established religious purposes, or unless the underage person is accompanied by a parent, spouse who is not an underage person, or legal guardian.

In black and white, the law says YES, you CAN let your child sample the fruit of the grain.  Before any reader feels trepidation that the safety of children across the state of Ohio is in jeopardy, keep in mind that this law assumes moderation and can do so because child endangerment laws–that are less objective–exist to enforce a parent to exercise control on the behalf of their child.  For instance, while it is legal to provide my child with alcohol, if the state saw that I was giving my seven year old a martini with his meal, child endangerment statutes would step in and trump 4301.631 (F) and Children’s Services Bureau would come knocking at my door.

What constitutes a sample?  A sip.  What constitutes a sip?  I would suggest a teaspoon for those under upper highschool age.  After all, Nyquil which boasts a 10% ABV and contains chemicals that intensify the effects of the alcohol, has recommended dosage of a teaspoon for my boy is a teaspoon.  One teaspoon of my 5.5% ABV beer will have no effect on his body or mind, only his burgeoning taste buds.

Then why do it?  Two reasons stand out.  1) The more flavors a parent introduces their child too, the more open and refined their palate will become.  In short, if you do not want a picky eater, encourage your children to try everything.  2) It teaches your child responsibility.  They see alcohol (in this case craft beer) as a tasteful treat, not an aid to inebriation, and have learned over the course of their childhood that proper imbibement occurs in small doses.

To sum up, I would encourage parents to take control of their child’s perspective on alcohol, before the college fraternity does, and the laws of the state of Ohio back me up on this.  Keep in mind, those reading this who live outside of the state of Ohio should consult their own state’s liquor laws.

What is you opinion on this potentially controversial subject?

***You may like this article on a similar subject:  Is 21 Years Too Long To Wait For A Beer?