• Countdown to IndyManBeerCon – the craft ale summit

Countdown to IndyManBeerCon – the craft ale summit

24 September 2015 by Neil Sowerby

IT’s the only October beer fest that really counts for the craft beer fraternity – and the programme for this year’s Indy Man Beer Con, starting next Thursday, October 8, at Victoria Baths has aroused incredible interest. 

When tickets went on sale on June 1 a record 4,000 tickets were snapped up almost instantly with three of the festival’s six sessions sold out. Capacity has been increased  to welcome 6,000 folk throughout the course of the festival, making room for more beers, more events, more food and more fun, while making better use of the stunning Baths.

The brewery list reads like a roll call of craft ale movement aristocracy from Manchester’s own ground-breaking newcomers to cult outfits from round the globe such as Z Collective (New Zealand), Firestone Walker (California), Lervig (Norway), Tilqin (Belgium) and Against The Grain (Louisville, Kentucky). In all 50 different breweries are taking part.

The IMBC itself has collaborated in creating a roster of special, fruit-driven brews for the festival Gooseberry Pale (Weird Beard/Lervig), Quince IPA (Northern Monk), Bilberry Saison (Cromarty), Fig Stout (Squawk) and Sloe Wit (Hanging Bat)?  All brewed in collaboration with IMBC itself, all decidedly fruit-driven. Most intriguing – and challenging of all – is a Seaweed Gose, created in conjunction with Liverpool’s Mad Hatter brewery. It’s their shoreline-influenced take on an astringent East German beer type.

Organised by Jonny Heyes and the team behind Common, Port Street Beer House and The Beagle, the festival aims to showcase the best craft beers and breweries from the UK and beyond. It’s a gathering place for the brewers and aficionados, so there’ll be lots of tastings, meet the maverick brewer sessions and industry-led briefings.

Jonny Heyes says: ”Hopefully this year visitors will be able to spend more time with the brewers, who’ll have their own individual tables. We are also making optimum use of the wonderful venue, including the outside. We want IMBC to be a fun journey. At any one session there will be up to 120 beers available to taste, say 110 keg and eight cask. With cask we are concentrating on super rare beers, not session ales.

“It’s a convivial atmosphere among the brewing community, with them all helping each other, and this is reflected in our event. We are excited by the rise of so many great new breweries. If we at Port Street and at at Indy Man Beer Con have helped to inspire them then we’re happy.”

There’s an impressive array of stomach-lining fodder from the likes of Diamond Dogs, Honest Crust, Great North Pie, Epicerie Ludo, new traders for this year Bundobust and Fish &, plus Almost Famous, who will be making an appearance in their new Wondertruck. 

Along with DJs playing throughout the weekend, this year’s IMBC will also feature a music and entertainment programme curated by Manchester label Aficionado, who will be roping in the likes of DBH, Ruf Dug, Menage a Trois and the newly formed Dream Lovers plus Aficionado DJs. Here’s the full music line-up

Official brewery sponsors are Brewdog, Cloudwater, Vertical Brands, Northern Monk, Hawkshead, Camden and Beavertown, with Cloudwater also behind the new glass design on the exceptional Craft Master One beer tasting glass. Above, Cloudwater’s Paul Jones unveils their revelatory new Autumn IPA, based on earthy New Zealand hop varieties and confirming this brewer’s quest for seasonality.

Session times are as follows: Thursday, Oct 8, 5.30pm-11.30pm; Friday 11.30am-4.30pm (trade session) and evening 5.30pm-11.30pm (sold out); Sat Oct 10 day 11.30am-4.30pm (sold out) and evening 5.30pm-11.30pm (sold out); Sun Oct 11 1pm-7pm.

Indy Man Beer Con, October 8-11, 2015, Victoria Baths, Hathersage Rd, Manchester, M13 0FE. Follow the build-up via the website or on Twitter @IndyManBeerCon. Ticket prices start at £8, to include tasting glass, available here.