Looks like a recent festival may have ended what has always been a good time for many in the brewing industry, serving at festivals. For years breweries have cycled their staff in and out of booths at festivals to give them breaks and allow them to visit with other friends and colleagues. I know I’ve been behind the counter at many, many festivals and pulled a tap handle after having a few samples. It all started back in May when Asheville held the Beer City Festival and ALE agents came to the party. They sat back and witnessed people pouring and sampling and everyone having a good time until they stepped in and put everyone on notice that type of behavior was frowned upon and servers must be sober or must not serve. I think the move took most everyone by surprise, mainly because it had never been an issue before. I’ve seen servers notably intoxicated, but they don’t pose a threat to festival attendees and are responsible when leaving the fest so where’s the harm? The ALE issued violation reports to 10 of the breweries from the festival, most notably for Oscar Wong of Highland. Now here’s the rub for me, the rule they supposedly broke was:
02S.0212(a)(3) Employee shall not perform service of any nature while or after consuming alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises.
I don’t quite follow how a festival is their licensed premises. They didn’t sign up for the festival permit and were not selling beer so I think the interpretation of the rule is bogus. I would caution anyone serving at a festival you may be running afoul of an interpretation of the ALE rules so be careful and be sure if consumption is allowed or not.

The ALE appears to not be playing around. Oskar Blues had planned a Burning Can festival last weekend and they were told not every brewery had the proper permits so they made the fest free, refunded the money they had already received, and proceeded as planned. I know who my new favorite NC brewery is now. Cheers to Oskar Blues!