The abrupt cancellation of Mountain Brew Fest this past week is evidence that the growth of the craft brewing industry has outstripped the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s resources, those close to the industry say.
The story quotes Stacy Cox, agent in charge of the Asheville office of N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement, as saying that she’s not targeting craft breweries, and that she is eager to work with breweries on education and enforcement issues. The story also quotes Ward & Smith attorney Derek Allen, who represents several Western North Carolina craft brewers in Western North Carolina, as saying that “he perceives ‘renewed and heightened enforcement’ by ALE recently.”
The story goes on to say that the situation came to a head when ALE agents found permitting problems with some brewers set to appear at the Oskar Blues Brewing Burning Can Festival in Brevard in July. But the Asheville ALE’s stepped-up enforcement around craft breweries began this spring, when it warned breweries about running afoul of cooperative advertising rules surrounding the Race to the Taps event. Then in May, ALE agents attended the Beer City Festival and wrote about a dozen citations for alleged alcohol law violations on the part of craft brewers there.
The Hendersonville Times-News story quotes N.C. Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Henderson County Republican, as saying that he’s discussed the issue with N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca, another Henderson County Republican and one of the most powerful politicians in the N.C. General Assembly:
While it’s too late in this legislative session to enact any reforms, McGrady said he’s discussed the situation with Sen. Tom Apodaca and plans to give the matter more attention between sessions.
“I think some good will come out of it,” McGrady said of the conflict. He plans to talk with agencies and breweries “to see if we can get some understanding.”