Ashvegas: The City You Love. The News You Want.Wicked Weed Brewing’s weekend Funk Asheville beer festival broke the same rules as the weekend’s Oskar Blues Burning Can beer festival in Brevard, according to an email obtained by Ashvegas.com.

In a Monday email with the subject line “Wicked Weed, Burning Can and Ashvegas” sent from Cox to local brewers, their attorneys and N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission officials, the special agent in charge of Asheville’s N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement office writes that her agents checked up on Funk Asheville after reading an Ashvegas post Sunday about action her agents took at Burning Can.

“I looked up the first several brewers listed for the Wicked Weed event and they do not have permits or approved products in NC,” Special Agent in Charge Stacy J. Cox wrote.

But Ward and Smith attorney Derek Allen said Monday afternoon that, after further review, Cox was mistaken. Cox was looking at an outdated link, said Allen, who stressed that every beer poured at Funk Asheville was properly permitted. Allen said he worked diligently with Wicked Weed last weekend to be sure everything was in order after hearing of the Burning Can enforcement action on Friday.

N.C. ALE agents to notify Oskar Blues that 16 breweries invited to pour at the Burning Can didn’t have the proper paperwork to serve beer and would not be allowed to pour. Oskar Blues decided to refund ticket-holders’ money and turn the event into a free beer-tasting party, rather than shut the party down.

In a phone interview Sunday, I asked Walt Dickinson of Wicked Weed about whether his festival had had any issues with N.C. ALE enforcement. Dickinson said his brewery worked hard to ensure that all the proper paperwork was in place for the event. “It’s our contention that every beer poured was legal,” Dickinson told me.

In her email, Cox says she and her agents were unaware that Funk Asheville was being held at Wicked Weed’s new beer-manufacturing facility at Enka Business Park (the same day as Burning Can), and she asks brewers for their help.

We did not know this event was happening. As I said in the meeting – I really don’t have time (or desire) to scour the local media to look for things and unfairly single anyone out. … What can we do to remedy this issue with the breweries and guide everyone into compliance? Ideas? Suggestions? Help!?

I called Cox this morning and left a message asking for comment. Here’s the full email:

Stacy J. Cox, special agent in charge of the Asheville office of the N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement

From: “Cox, Stacy” <stacy.cox@ncdps.gov>
Date: July 20, 2015 at 11:46:41 AM EDT
To: “Derek J. Allen (DJA@wardandsmith.com)” <DJA@wardandsmith.com>, “Hayley R. Wells (HRW@wardandsmith.com)” <HRW@wardandsmith.com>, “Jennifer McLucas (director@avlbrewers.com)” <director@avlbrewers.com>, “Rick Jackson (rjackson@mwblawyers.com)” <rjackson@mwblawyers.com>, “billy@catawbabrewing.com” <billy@catawbabrewing.com>
Cc: “Cowick, Renee (Renee.Cowick@abc.nc.gov)” <Renee.Cowick@abc.nc.gov>, “robert.hamilton@abc.nc.gov” <robert.hamilton@abc.nc.gov>
Subject: Wicked Weed, Burning Can and Ashvegas

Hi Folks,

I just wanted to take a moment to demystify and debunk what our local media is proliferating in reference to Burning Can. I noticed a number of articles hit the media this morning and hope to shed clarity should you be called with questions.

First of all – there will be no violation reports submitted to NCABCC against anyone in reference to Burning Can, nor will anyone be charged criminally for anything.

Several articles: (and I am certain there will be more to come)

http://www.wlos.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/oskar-blues-refunds-burning-can-ticket-holders-21994.shtml#.Va0LDqRViko

http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/07/20/beer-fest-makes-refunds-permit-problems/30409279/

http://ashvegas.com/n-c-ale-pours-cold-water-on-oskar-blues-beer-festival-in-brevard-but-the-party-goes-on

****I recommend reading the comments in the last article listed (Ashvegas).

Here’s the details:

NCALE did not know about this festival until Wednesday evening, when the local Sheriff’s Office told us about it. We immediately took action and the Agent assigned to that area contacted the Manager (Noah) at Oskar Blues to begin discussion. I went ahead and made contact with NCABCC to determine how to proceed. NCABCC contacted the office of Ward and Smith and forwarded their guidelines on how Oskar Blues could proceed with the festival.

As I am sure you all are aware, many of the out of state brewers in attendance did not have the ABC permits they need to  sell/serve their products in this state. There were also a number of them whose products were not approved for sale or consumption anywhere in NC. On Friday, I personally met with Noah and let him know we harbored no animosity and explained how we had just learned of the event. He understood and took responsibility for their actions. I again asked him to contact our office prior to events so we can get details worked out well ahead of time.

During the festival and after notification, Oskar Blues opted to make the festival a free event. NCABCC and gave them guidelines for how to remain within law and rule compliance. Our Agents briefly spot checked the festival Saturday evening and found no operational problems.

Based on the Ashvegas article, I checked up on the Wicked Weed event (link below)that was listed in the comments. We did not know this event was happening. As I said in the meeting – I really don’t have time (or desire) to scour the local media to look for things and unfairly single anyone out.

http://thefullpint.com/events/wicked-weed-brewing-presents-funk-asheville-july-18-2015/

I looked up the first several brewers listed for the Wicked Weed event and they do not have permits or approved products in NC.

What can we do to remedy this issue with the breweries and guide everyone into compliance? Ideas? Suggestions? Help!?

Thanks for all you do!

Sincerely,

Stacy

Stacy J. Cox

Special Agent in Charge

Alcohol Law Enforcement Branch

5 Barbetta drive

Asheville, NC 28806

(828) 670-5055 phone

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10 Comments

  1. Did Stacy Cox admit to being the laziest public official ever? How come she/he is not fired by the weekend?
    You have a event such as Wicked Weed, and millions of citizens could have been harmed by these oversights. If Stacy (she-he) was in the private sector, he-she would be searching for a new job. What a joke that the public suffered such malfesence. Call in the national guard, but first, Stacy miss lose his/her job.
    Signed, a really tired taxpayer.

  2. I bet somebody thought:
    “We don’t need none of them dang ‘ole liberal beer drinkin’ commie Jesus hatin’ hippies ’round here…”

    Problem is, beer is big business here. Big business always gets what it wants in the end, and for once I hope they do. Besides, everybody likes beer- conservative, liberal, no difference.

  3. This whole thing sounds fishy. Sheriff calls them? Sounds like someone wanted to throw water on the whole thing anyway.

    With so many breweries in the area, sounds like competition is getting so bad that people will do just about anything to drive business in their direction.

  4. I know a relative of hers. She’s a Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura listening tea bagger. I don’t trust a word of what she says. We should ask for her birth certificate.

  5. This is just poor communication. When you file for a special event permit, you have to notify and get approval from the local law enforcement and the permit eventually gets approved by the State ABC office. I always assumed they would communicate the various applications and events to the local ABC office / agents.

  6. In all fairness this email was sent to a number of people, in addition to the attorneys of the Asheville Brewers Alliance. In all fairness it is A L E’s job to ‘police’ this (like it or not) and in all fairness she stated she’s only becoming aware of these events as they ‘fall on her lap’ sort of speek. You can tell from her tone that’s she’s trying to be very cool and patient with the beer scene in Asheville. Evidently, the brewers, and probably every festivial ever in this town, has been non-compliant on something or the other. I honestly think she’s just taking her job seriously, and to critizize her for not do the diligence of notifying the brewers months in advance is laughable as that is not her or the department job to do that. It is her job to enforce rules, it is the breweries/event organizers job to do their own due diligence prior to the events or face the possibility of an A L E agent showing up the day of and shutting it down. The staff, I read, was 5 for all of WNC, I can see why she wouldn’t care to look up all the festivals, call them up and ‘check in’ on them. Sometimes the responsibility lies with the organizers to call her up and say they are doing an event, etc. and be compliant. Some people gonna hate, but she’s got her job, and the breweries have theirs.

  7. “I really don’t have time (or desire) to scour the local media to look for things…”

    1) Someone had “the time and desire” to show up “encase” at Burning Can.

    2) Isn’t part of their job to have knowledge of these events…

    …do they honestly expect event organizers who have exercised due diligence with their permitting process to then alert them so that they can show up and shut down the event?

    That’s laughable.

  8. USS Smiley says:

    There has been full-page ads in the Xpress for months for both of these events and they had no idea they were going on? These are the laziest or the most out of touch ALE ever hahahaha

  9. Hmmmm….

    “As I said in the meeting – I really don’t have time (or desire) to scour the local media to look for things…”

    But yet, you do it anyway?

    NARCs gonna NARC.

    No one is saying look the other way, but maybe trolling comments sections of blogs isn’t the best way to have visibility into events.

    What can you do? Perhaps establishing relationships (through outreach)with the well-established breweries and economic engines of Asheville is a great start. It can’t be a coincidence that many of them thought they were in compliance and you surprised them that they weren’t.

    Better communication and more visibility might make this look like cooperation as opposed to what it actually looks like (that being rather NARC-ish and politically motivated by Baptists and Republicans alike in Raleigh).

    –not a brewer or Asheville resident.

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