I had to make a choice this year, between Indy Man Beer Con and Sheffield Beer Fest. Having only missed one Sheffield fest since I was old enough to attend, have sacrificed my local CAMRA fest for the remarkable wonders of Indy Man. That isn't reflection of the Sheffield CAMRA fest, which is excellent, its more a representation of my dire finances.
I did it cheaply mind. I bought only ten tokens (which may have been the minimum, but am not sure), and caught the coach both ways, walked to the fest and back into Manchester and only stopped to purchase a couple of thirds after. This meant leaving the house at 07.00 and getting back at 21.30! It was, as ever, absolutely worth the effort.
I had seen Dave Pickersgill on the coach but he wasn't getting there til later so I walked up on my own and then wandered around once I had my tickets to hopefully see folks that I knew. I started on a Burning Sky Arise, a session IPA from a range of theirs including BA imperial stout and about 5 different saisons. From here on in, as I was having two thirds an hour, it was DIPAs and imperial stouts all the way.
Having secured a seat in the Turkish baths part next to Verdant I headed for Cloudwater. who had been very pleased to announce a direct serve cold store for their beers directly behind the taps. I must say their DIPA was very refreshing and frighteningly easy to drink, alas all I know is it was their latest DIPA as when I asked what hops were in it as I couldn't read the label the barman said "I don't work for the brewery mate, am just pouring beer". Um....thats correct. The pump clip is right in front of you however!
I went for a wander to Loka Polly next and had a DIPA of theirs which may have been DDH Citra and Mosaic, and also bumped into Jules. It was her that told me about Indy Man back in 2013 so am always grateful for that, and pleased to see her. Her and her friends headed off to another brewery stall and I went into the third room where I found Jay, Chris B, Heather, Dave Unpro,, KateDave and later Dave P, along with Sue the brew. Here I enjoyed a Whiplash DIPA which had a name and a Circle of Snakes DIPA from Black Iris. This, as Jay confirmed, was one of the most green beers I have ever had hops wise! Such a good advert for fresh beer.
If you are wondering why I can't find details of all the beer names precisely, its because my app downloadable phone has bust so I only have a 2006 Nokia, and there were no paper lists out and about when I arrived. There is therefore some guessmories involved......
The next beer I tried was Wylam Mental State, or similar, and a third of their colab with Whiplash, before I headed back to sit in the baths room with a couple who were from earth, and to have a third of Verdant Don't Tell the Ferryman Barrel Aged imperial stout at 11.0%. Suffice to say this was an excellent dark ale, perhaps the first such style I have tried from one of my favourite breweries.
I also sampled a Hawkshead beer, am guessing it was a DIPA, although am not sure they do one, and also an Almasty beer - the same descriptors apply. We went for a wander round the food village and I bumped into John Clarke who very kindly gave me a taste of his massala chips - absolutely lovely! I also had a Lervig Supersonic DIPA, which was wonderfully easy drinking, in keeping with the unnoficial theme.
My last beer, to the best of my knowledge, was a Cloudwater System Failure colab DIPA with Bragby, or similar sounding brewery. This was very well balanced and tasty, and fresh as a dasiy.
Leaving at 16.15 I met up with Dave P outside and we walked back into town in the pissing rain til we gave up and we got a bus, before undertaking a rather lengthy wander to Tarrif Street and the Northern Monk refrectory Manchester. A couple of beers each were sampled in here before we made our way to the coach station and headed on the way home.
Once more I went to Indy Man and every beer I had was excellent and outstanding and the listed Victoria Baths remain one of the best places to have a beer festival anywhere. Well done to Indy Man Beer Con and their staff and the brewers for one again putting on an impeccable show!