The Shooting Creek Farm Brewery on Thomas Farm Road near the Blue Ridge Parkway won the first round in a battle with religion and self-righteous neighbors, obtaining approval for an off-premises Alcoholic Beverage Control license from the hearing officer who oversaw a contentious debate on the brewery last month.
Robert O’Neal, ABC’s chief administrative hearing officer, ruled in effect that the neighbors and a Baptist minister from Check were creating a loud, but misinformed tempest in a teapot with their claims that the brewery would turn the rural road into a danger zone of drunk drivers.
Brewery owners say they are happy with the decision but will wait to see if their opponents appeal for a full hearing before the ABC board in Richmond.
The minister who is helping drive the protest wants to press ahead but it is not his money that must pay for lawyers to appeal the decision.
"This is a battle between what the people want along that road and what I’ve called the pro-intoxication winery people," Rev. Warren Brown of Faith Baptist Church told The Roanoke Times. "They make their money by selling alcohol and getting people intoxicated."
In reality, the pastor is burying facts under a pile of hyperbole that stinks to high heaven. The license sought by the micro-brewery is off-premises. As O’Neal demonstrated during the hearing, the entire annual output of the small brewery would not fill a corner of one tractor trailer. The existence of Chateau Morrisette winery, which serves alcohol on premises, has not led to an increase of drunk driving arrests or accidents on Black Ridge Road. Statistics also do not show such problems on the rural roads near a cider house or a meadery near Buffalo Mountain Presbyterian Church in the Southern end of Floyd County.
The residents of Thomas Farm Road would be better served by listening to legal experts who note that such appeals seldom result in overturned decisions and stop wasting their time and money listening to a minister with an obvious personal agenda.