Updated: N.C. ALE pours cold water on Burning Can beer fest in Brevard, but party goes on


Correction July 27: The N.C. ALE determined that a total of 16 breweries, not all of them out of state, didn’t have the proper permits to serve beer at Burning Can.

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.



Stymie July 23, 2016 - 12:23 pm

Don’t really see an issue with ALE here. Step back and take a look at it objectively. You can drive around without a license pretty much all you want, I mean you’re aware you need one but when’s the last time you’ve been asked to show yours out of how many thousands of miles if you drive like a normal person? The police don’t have the manpower or ability to keep up with everyone on the road. Now speed everywhere and peel out at every stop light to draw attention to yourself. You’re going to get stopped and asked for your license. This event was heavily advertised this year so obviously the authorities are going to drop in to do their job of checking to see if the law is being followed. Criminy, even some in-state breweries at the event didn’t have the proper permit. Like the article stated, the other festival going on the same weekend in Asheville made sure everyone was legal there and they had no issues.

mort July 20, 2015 - 3:43 pm

Didn’t the ALE bust a bunch of breweries’ pourers at the Beer City festival here in town a few months ago? This isn’t the first ALE “event” around these parts here this year.

David July 20, 2015 - 1:06 pm

It’s a Rebublican Governor Republicans always blame things on big government but the republicans are now in control if I as a person want to go to a church on Sunday and have a beer at at beer festival I should have that right let freedom flourish

The Blunder Years July 19, 2015 - 1:26 pm

Anne Fitten JONES?

AF July 19, 2015 - 5:41 pm


smytty July 19, 2015 - 10:52 am

I have heard from folks at many local breweries that the ALE has begun some sort of selective enforcement campaign that is very clearly targeting many of Asheville’s small businesses n technicalities.

It’s a damn shame. The ALE has the capacity to drop in and effectively shut down people who have been doing business the same way for a decade with little to no warning.

Bootsie Nightangale July 19, 2015 - 10:35 am

Alot of those breweries that were to be unable to pour, attended last years event, but didn’t have to get their permit/license. So of course they would think it was the same this year. Why ALE decided to crackdown at the last minute is a mystery.
What Oskar Blues did is a testament to that company and how they operate. They don’t want to disappoint their fans or fellow brewers and will do what it takes to make it right.
This was not even a for profit. All proceeds were going to their non profit charitable orginization, Can’d Aid. So maybe when everyone gets their refund (what it took to make it a private party) they will think about making a donation to Can’d Aid!
In my opinion, Oskar Blues is an extraordinary company!!

JEM July 19, 2015 - 10:32 am

Why wasn’t Funk Asheville affected? Some of the same breweries were listed as pouring at this festival but not Burning Can.

Jason Sandford July 19, 2015 - 10:38 am

Good question, JEM. I’ll ask.

FDR July 20, 2015 - 2:16 pm


Scott July 19, 2015 - 10:31 am

ALE aren’t jerks. Just employees enforcing laws made by elected officials voted by the citizens of the state. We can have any laws we want passed or overturned. Lots of stupid laws passed by stupid politicians voted in by stupid people.

AVL Neighbor July 19, 2015 - 10:03 am

Well, that was inevitable. I was wondering how long it would take before WNC’s new beer culture collided with NC’s draconian ALE laws and policies. The ALE is like the Gestapo.

FDR July 19, 2015 - 8:33 am

So I’m wondering who blew the whistle. City of Brevard? Church Ladies? Local Transylvania County competitors that were left out? Do some digging Jason.

Murphy July 19, 2015 - 8:13 am

So the organizers basically didn’t bother researching the ALE laws in NC when preparing for this event… and why was it that the ALE only decided to inform the festival ton the day before: surely there were permits and such that had to be obtained months in advance.

Nan July 19, 2015 - 9:26 am

Yes. I would certainly like to know more about this mean stuff….and I don’t even like beer.

cwaster July 19, 2015 - 10:29 am

Probably hoping they could bust people and take their money, that’s why.

cwaster July 19, 2015 - 8:10 am

ALE Jerks.

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