ComFest plans beer changes: smaller mugs, more expensive tokens

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

ComFest beer booth volunteers recently received a memo about procedure for this year's fest that included some news about changes in the beer system this year. Basically, the mugs are getting smaller, and the price of tokens is going up, but the proportion of dollars to ounces remains the same for domestic beer. Craft beer will be marginally more expensive, but only by about one cent per ounce.

The 32-ounce mugs ComFest has been selling for years will be replaced with 20-ounce mugs. Whereas the old mugs cost two tokens to fill up, the new ones will only require one token. Also, the price of tokens is rising by $1, so blue tokens (for domestic beer) rise from $4 to $5, and black tokens (for craft beer) rise from $5 to $6. According to the memo from beer committee head Jen Secrest, "They will still have the year's logo printed on them and they will still come in all of the colors everyone loves."

The memo also explains the rationale for the change, which is where things get sticky: "We hope that this will cut down beer lines and make the job of the beer volunteers easier and more accurate. There will now be only one beer size."

Ostensibly this makes sense because beer booth volunteers won't have to ask as many questions or spend as much time at the tap, but Secrest has to be crazy if she thinks smaller mugs will lead to shorter lines. The changes seem more like a veiled way to prevent volunteers from giving patrons extra beer (it's common knowledge that many volunteers will fill your mug more than halfway for the price of one token) or cutting down on public intoxication. Neither of those motives is necessarily outrageous - "How dare you stop me from breaking the rules!" smacks of entitlement, and most reasonable people would agree that drunken louts make ComFest worse, not better. But if those are the real reasons behind these changes, I wish ComFest would just come out and say it. In the meantime, I wouldn't be surprised to see an increase in attempts to sneak in non-sanctioned BYOB booze.

Festival-goers are still allowed to bring back mugs from previous years, but it will cost them. Continues Secrest, "If someone insists on using an old 32oz mug, we will accept them this year HOWEVER we will NOT be doing any partial pours. They would have to pay with 2 tokens (blue, black or white) for a full mug. In other words, they would be paying for 40oz of beer but only getting 32oz so it isn't likely many customers will choose this option."

Alive sought further comment from Secrest or a ComFest publicist Thursday, but as of this posting no one has responded.

On the plus side, they'll be serving two varieties of mixed drinks near the I Wish You Jazz stage. The drinks will be pre-mixed in large coolers and sold for the price of one black token.

ComFest is June 28-30 at Goodale Park.