MountainTrue cancels Mountain Brew Fest, cites regulatory obstacles

MountainTrue announced today that it has canceled the upcoming Mountain Brew Fest scheduled for August 22 in downtown Hendersonville, and has issued the following statement:

Our hope was that this festival would be an opportunity to build community, support local brewers and help display MountainTrue’s presence as an advocate for a healthy environment in Henderson County and the region as a whole.
Unfortunately, due to our and others inability to get clear and consistent answers regarding event requirements from the Alcohol Beverage Control and Alcohol Law Enforcement agencies, we determined that it was impossible to ensure the kind of high-quality event our community deserves.

Despite being in constant communication with ALE and ABC since early June, we were unable to get the answers we needed to proceed. Although some agency staff were very helpful, in the final weeks leading up to the festival, the continued ambiguity, as well as the prospect of disciplinary action, led several brewers to decline participation, diminishing the event’s core attraction.

Craft brewing is a major economic driver in our area, and we want to maintain constructive relationships with our wonderful brewing community. In this case, that meant not moving forward with an event in which they were at risk of being penalized by agencies who provided unclear and even conflicting information.

Increased enforcement of previously unregulated permitting hurdles has created an environment of uncertainty for the future of beer festivals, which often provide financial support for non-profits like MountainTrue. Indeed, MountainTrue is also a beneficiary of both the Winter Warmer Beer Festival and the Oskar Blues Burning Can festival in Brevard.

In July, such enforcement resulted in the loss of fundraising revenue from the Burning Can Festival. Amazingly, brewers and attendees have responded to that setback with donations of their own. Both before and since that event, MountainTrue and brewers have worked diligently to avoid repeating that situation, only to be met with delays and lack of clarity.

This kind of uncertainty in the face of harsh penalties has an unfortunate chilling effect in an area where craft beer has built such an impressive reputation. MountainTrue would welcome the opportunity to be part of the conversation with ABC and ALE, brewers and others, on how to overcome these issues, and we hope to be able to revive Mountain Brew Fest in 2016.

We would like to thank all of the brewers, sponsors, volunteers, musical acts and food vendors who made their commitment to MountainTrue and Mountain Brew Fest, as well as the City of Hendersonville.

All ticket holders will receive a full refund. MountainTrue appreciates everyone who wanted to make this a great community event.

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.