IndyMan Beer Con 2013 – A Preview
Independent Beer Festivals are on the rise, and, as always, there’s one that kick-starts the revolution. Last year’s IndyMan Beer Con saw the good folk of Manchester pull together the most exciting, representative-of-the-zeitgeist beer parties I’d ever seen; uniting cask, keg, old and young, male and female, food, music and good causes all under one unique roof in the Victoria Baths. The fact that IndyMan became the yardstick for independent Northern beer festivals after only one year shows how influential it has been.
So, with this year’s event around the corner, I had a quick chat with co-organiser Claudia Asch; who many from around these parts will be familiar with – such is the energy and hard work that she, Jonny Heyes (owner of Port Street Beer House, The Beagle and Common), Duncan Sime (events for the group), Jamie-Leigh Hargreaves (press, volunteers) and Rosie Setterfield-Price (PSBH’s Manager) bring to not only Indy Man, but for beer in the Manchester area in general. How are they going to avoid that difficult second album? The answer, it seems, is simply hard work.
‘Last year’s IndyMan could not have gone better for us; the response was overwhelming. This year, we definitely know that the stakes are high and expectations are raised, not least because there are now many more non-CAMRA beer festivals on the scene. The idea is to provide a taste of the diverse world of beer, for those who are already immersed in it, and for those just discovering new breweries and who are interested in learning more about the processes behind creating these beers, in stunning surroundings.’
‘All three pools will have bars this year, with the smallest pool also featuring a stage for occasional musical performances. Each pool will have keg and cask beers; we think that mixing up cask and keg will hopefully get people interested in trying more different beers. Furthermore, there are many brewers that casking and kegging, so it makes sense for them to present their beers in the best possible format.’
The brewers involved reads like a list of who’s who of Northern Brewing; one-off beers have been brewed by the likes of Rooster’s, Quantum, Buxton, Thornbridge and Marble (you can read the exact details of those beers here) and if that doesn’t whet your whistle, the likes of Arbor, Cromarty, First Chop, Lovibonds, Tocalmatto, Hawkshead, Redchurch, Red Willow, Tiny Rebel and many, many more are supporting the cause and getting involved.
One aspect that I thought was slightly off-kilter last year was the use of the little side-rooms, the nooks and crannies of the baths. This year, a familiar brewery will be taking up residence away from the main drag. ‘ Magic Rock will be transforming the Turkish baths into their bar area this year – it’s bound to be a really popular spot, with a rotation of six of their beers on offer for the duration of the festival.’
Food-wise, Guerilla Eats will be coordinating all the local street-food traders – and theres’ a guided, beer-matched meal, too. ‘With eight street food traders, we’re confident there will be something for everyone to help line stomachs, and of course there is also the Tim Anderson meal on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening. North Tea Power will supply coffee lovers during the Saturday lite and Sunday session. Cider lovers will get their fill, too, with six handpulls serving a variety of ciders from all over the UK.’
But wait – there’s more. ‘We’ve just announced two special tasting sessions with Beermoth, during the Saturday lite session and Sunday session.’ Claudia continues. ‘On Saturday, there’s the chance to taste Boulevard beers, from Kansas City, Missouri, which are rarely seen in this country, and on Sunday, there will be a tasting of wild ales with Brettanomyces.’
It all sounds wonderful and I for one, can’t wait. I’ve had my tickets since March, and that’s some stretch for a Beer Festival – and there’s only a handful left. I’ll leave the final word to Claudia: ‘The idea is to provide a taste of the diverse world of beer, both for those who are already immersed in it, and for those just discovering new breweries and who are interested in learning more about the processes behind creating these beers, in the stunning surroundings of the Victoria baths. We hope to see you there!