Saturday, May 28, 2016

Roger answers all your questions on the eve of Boomtown, 2016.

The third installment of Boomtown Ball & Festival arrives Sunday, and the overall scheme seems largely unchanged from previous years, apart from the addition of a charitable instrument drive.

Mayor Jeff Gahan Presents Boomtown, etc.

I've gotten several questions about Boomtown, and while I'm no longer actively involved with NABC or the fest's setup (it's been two years since 2014, folks), it's a point of honor for me to be a fair broker of information.

I just can't help myself.

Will Houndmouth (the band) be there?

No, or so I've been told by sources. The band will keep a low profile at Boomtown this year, with the possibility of a heightened presence in 2017. Of course, it doesn't preclude band members turning up, or other surprises.

For those just tuning into all things New Albanian, the inaugural Boomtown Ball & Festival in 2014 was heavily marketed as a celebration of Houndmouth, and the band performed at the Grand on Sunday evening following the fest's conclusion. Last year, the band was bound by various obligations, but "curated" the event's musical acts in conjunction with Production Simple.

Will Houndmouth (the NABC beer) be there?

No, and I apologize for previous suggestions to the contrary. I've been told by brewmaster Josh Hill that Houndmouth has not been brewed, but that NABC's "new red lager" will be available at the Boomtown concessions area. Earlier this week, NABC released a social media tout for Knob Knee New Albany Lager, so perhaps that's the one.

Will there be craft beers at the Boomtown concessions?


Donum Dei (two taps; styles not known)
Flat 12 Hinchtown Hammerdown
Flat12 Walkabout Pale Ale
NABC Katie Toupin Knob Knee New Albany Lager
Scarlet Lane (style unknown)

Why aren't local breweries involved at Boomtown?

As you can see above, some are. To properly explain, a history lesson is in order.

In 2014, NABC absorbed the risk, acquired the requisite Indiana ATC permit, and co-oped with other local New Albany-based establishments on a "tavern" area during Boomtown. NABC paid percentages to Production Simple and the Flea Off Market, both of which are based in Louisville.

Frankly, had some of us not pushed the issue, there wouldn't have been local involvement at all, because the city's original plan was to run alcohol sales entirely through these entities. There was no plan to involve locals because ... well, it's never been explained. Perhaps we're not "trendy" enough to be ourselves during an event presumably about ourselves.

In 2015, Boomtown concessions control was handed by the city to Production Simple, which I've heard levied potential beer vendors a "pay to play or the highway" at 50% of sales, right off the top. Matt from Big Four Burgers won't confirm this, but I trust my other sources. If this isn't true, Production simple need only inform me and I'll make the correction.

As an aside, note that Production Simple's monopoly for Boomtown and the summer's Bicentennial Park Summer Concert Series did not come as a result of open bidding.

This year as last, Matt from Big Four Burgers agreed to Production Simple's pay-to-play premium, and I've heard rumblings of discontent, so let's be clear. Had he not undertaken to share the liability risks and potential rewards by being the beer vendor, there'd have been absolutely nothing to stop Production Simple from pouring all AB InBev products -- so long as the price was right.

Do I hear 60 percent? Even higher?

Given the city's bizarre disinterest in localism at Boomtown, it's easy to see that Production Simple would have no compunction eliminating all local participation, with the city's de facto blessing.

Did I mention that Production Simple is the beneficiary of a no-bid contract?

At the same time, just remember: If you were handed a no-bid monopoly on a silver platter, you'd be tempted to do the same. This isn't a Production Simple problem. It's a City Hall problem.

I for one appreciate what Matt's doing, because he's carrying the ball in a tough spot, and walking a tightrope owing to the city's decision to operate Boomtown as a New Albany festival with little to do with New Albany, apart from the street grid upon which it is situated.

Some might say that Matt himself is restricting local participation by limiting beer choices, but given the rules of the game as sanctioned by the city, he's in the position of being compelled to maximize his sales to justify his risk. He's playing by the rules. It's just that the rules are wretched, and that's for City Hall to answer for, and not Matt.

In point of fact, we're probably at the juncture where there are enough interested parties that some form of competitive bidding for concessions is a must. Yes, this implies the possibility of AB InBev buying in, but it also allows for some form of local co-oping to preempt multinational domination. It cannot occur unless everything is out in the open, in full light of day -- and it needs to apply to all the city's alleged "public-private partnerships," doesn't it?

Thanks for asking. I love questions like this.

Roger, will you be there?

Yes, I will be on hand to answer questions about New Albany Craft Beer Week (May 29 - June 4) and Indie Fest 2016 (September 24). Look for me in a camp chair somewhere near Thrasher's Art Store -- cigar probably in hand, but no, still no booze for me, as I'm concluding an antibiotics regimen for a sinus infection.

Beginning next Tuesday, it's another story.

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