Note: Originally posted at 9 a.m. Sunday, July 19. Updated throughout at 11 a.m.
Oskar Blues brewery in Brevard on Saturday turned a ticketed beer festival featuring more than 55 breweries, big-name music and outdoor activities into a free party after North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement officials barred about 25 of those out-of-state breweries from pouring beer at the event.
Those breweries didn’t have the proper permits to legally serve beer in North Carolina, Oskar Blues spokeswoman Anne Fitten Glenn said Sunday morning.
“We’re taking full responsibility for it. It’s really our fault, and our goal moving forward is to make sure we’re communicating with ALE and the (N.C.) ABC Commission so that we’re doing everything right,” Glenn said.
“We’re going to keep throwing big, fun parties,” she added.
This year was the second year for Burning Can, an annual festival that began in Oskar Blue’s home state of Colorado several years ago. The event raises money for the brewery’s nonprofit foundation, Can’d Aid. This year’s two-day Burning Can event was billed as featuring beer from more than 55 canning breweries from around the U.S., as well as topflight music from Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Rebirth Brass Band and more. The event, which also featured BMX bike riding, river paddling and a beer relay trail run, was held at the Oskar Blues REEB Ranch property at Shoals Falls Road, which is near its Brevard brewery. Tickets were $50, or $60 for on-site camping.
Friday night on Twitter, @Brewbound began tweeting the the news of N.C. ALE’s action, reporting that 26 out-of-state breweries would be barred from pouring beer at the event.
An email sent to participating breweries indicates that NC Alcohol Law Enforcement has “ramped up” enforcement of pouring laws.
Breweries that didn’t ship through a wholesaler or register with the state will be unable to pour beer at the NC Burning can fest tomorrow.
Oskar Blues will reportedly be reimbursing breweries (those who cannot pour) for travel/expenses. $2k per brewery.
GoodBeerHunting.com followed up on the Burning Can situation Saturday with a report. North Carolina alcohol law officers informed Oskar Blues that breweries without “state registry” would not be allowed to pour their beer at the event, the site’s Michael Kiser reported, so Oskar Blues sent an apologetic email and offered to pay each brewery $2,000 to cover travel expenses.
The move by alcohol law enforcement could have gutted the beer portion of the festival, Kiser reported, knocking out the big attraction for some 2,000 ticket holders. But organizers hit upon the idea of turning the event into a “private party,” GoodBeerHunting reported.
Glenn confirmed that account. She said a couple of breweries packed up and left Friday, and possibly one or two more didn’t show when word spread that they might not be allowed to pour. But by refunding every ticket-holders’ money and making Burning Can a free event, the party could, and did, go on with the breweries pouring their beer.
“It was the right thing to do,” Glenn said of the move to take refund money but keep the event going Saturday. So that’s what Oskar Blues did, and the party continued. (Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis attended Burning Can in Brevard.) Anyone of legal age was allowed to show up Saturday, show their ID, get a wristband, sample beer and check out the festival, Glenn said.
“It was an awesome festival,” she said, adding that Trombone Shorty’s top-notch performance Saturday night was a great ending to the fest. Also, friends of the festival built a giant, 20-foot tall wooden beer can and burned it to the ground, Glenn confirmed, adding that all fire safety precautions were followed.
Also Saturday, Wicked Weed Brewing held one of its signature beer festivals, Funk Asheville, at its brand new manufacturing facility at Enka Business Park. (Like Burning Can in Brevard, this was the second year of Funk Asheville, a sour beer festival.) Some of the same out-of-state breweries that were on tap to pour at Burning Can were pouring at Funk Asheville. Wicked Weed co-owner Walt Dickinson said Sunday morning that everything went off without a problem.
“We worked really hard to make sure” everything was in order from a permitting and paperwork standpoint, Dicksinson said. “All the beer that was poured at our event was legal.”
Here’s a photo gallery of Burning Can 2015, photos courtesy of Oskar Blues in Brevard.