Control board to clarify ‘fun’ events at Alaska distilleries

  • Monday, November 13, 2017 10:33pm
  • News

FAIRBANKS (AP) — The Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office will be meeting to clarify whether breweries and distilleries are allowed to host extracurricular activities.

The control board will meet Monday to address the issue after a memo was sent by Alcohol Control Office Director Erika McConnell, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

McConnell’s memo stated that events such as painting, poetry readings, festivals, fundraisers and “fun” appear to be prohibited under current legislation.

“The license type does not suggest that members of the public should be encouraged to linger through food service events, and the prohibition of entertainment supports that interpretation,” the memo stated.

Ursa Major Distillery Owner Rob Borland said it feels like McConnell has declared war on distillery owners. Borland hosted a painting event last week.

“They sent me a notice. They wanted me to cancel it,” Borland said. “They haven’t even held this board meeting yet. This new director seems to have it out for us. She tries to limit us nonstop. We jump through hoops. It’s very frustrating. It affects all tasting rooms. To me, it’s overreach.”

In September, McConnell attempted to stop distilleries from serving mixed drinks in tasting rooms. But no official action on the matter has taken place.

Borland sees no reason why people can’t enjoy drinks during an activity, he said.

“It’s her view of what a tasting room should be. She is reinterpreting the statute,” Borland said. “I helped write that statute so I was a little offended when she told me I misinterpreted it. … I can’t believe she put ‘fun’ in the memo. She wants to limit ‘fun’. Am I not supposed to not let anyone smile when they come in here?”

Toivo Lowick, owner of Hoarfrost Distilling, said he likes the idea of clarifying what is allowed but is concerned that the decision will be one-sided. The statute is specific about no games such as darts and pool, but it is less clear on activities such as dancing, he said.

Fairbanks Distilling Owner Patrick Levy said he isn’t so concerned about the memo, but he wasn’t happy when McConnell tried cracking down on mixed drinks.

“We’re into making classic drinks that showcase our product,” Levy said. “We understand there isn’t supposed to be entertainment.”

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