Brew Update

It is no secret that the beer economy in Asheville is big business. No longer an emerging industry, local breweries and the community have celebrated the opening of Oskar Blues Brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and the expected opening of New Belgium Brewing Co., Inc. within the last few years. As the industry has grown, it has also experienced some growing pains.

A couple of recent high profile enforcement actions by North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (“ALE”) resulted in members of the Asheville Brewers Alliance (“ABA”) asking to sit down with the top regulators and law enforcement representatives to discuss how such incidents could be avoided. On July 10, the ABA hosted a meeting with its members, the Chief Counsel and the Administrator of the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, and Special Agent in Charge of the North Carolina ALE. Ward and Smith, P.A. brewery attorneys, Derek Allen and Hayley Wells, also attended this meeting.

This meeting marked the first time that a joint meeting of this kind is known to have occurred in the State. The purpose of the meeting was to allow industry members to obtain guidance and clarification on regulations, enforcement priorities and ask questions about activities that have led to recent enforcement actions. Approximately 60 representatives of the local brewing community attended the meeting. The main topics discussed were best practices to address the health, safety and welfare of the public, cooperative advertising, festivals, consumption by retail and brewery employees, uniforms, and beer flights. The continued cooperative dialogue that has followed this meeting is important to the local brewing economy and will be a critical component of its continued success and growth.

Submitted by Derek Allen