Last year I had a great night at Indy Man, drinking much too quickly propped up against the speaker in room 3, and finishing with an evening of Krautrock at Gorilla.
This year Mrs RM wanted to come, presumably because her FaceFriend mates had been raving about the Victorian baths featured on “Restoration”, and thought she might get some tips on converting our garage into a swimming pool. She was disappointed by Pub Curmudgeon’s boycott though, having looked forward to relieving THAT night in Offerton.
Our Indy Man evening began on one of those glorious Manchester evenings that you always get while it’s gloomy in Cambridge. A long walk along the A34 from our Ibis Budget (£31) was clearly going to get us to the Baths embarrassingly early, so we popped into a traditional Manc pub for a warm-up.
Our 17 year old son has to decide on University applications this month. If he came to Manc he could have this cheery, but scarily red bar as his local. Big Hands has terrific music, no real ale, but Krombacher was strangely addictive.
The usual cheery crowds outside the Baths had clearly been sampling some of Manc’s better known beer culture, bemoaning the lack of Dobber in the Marble Arch.
Mrs RM only needs a seat and a beer to remain cheery, so that’s what she got.
The “one token fits all” approach must simplify things, but it does prompt some unwise behaviour from beer plebs like me.
Any logic about working through the strengths or styles goes out the window, replaced with the strategy of “oooh look,11%, shiney shiney“.
So it was that we started with a Runaway “Caller the Smaller” (9.5%) and Lervig “Slipping into Darkness” (11%) and pretty much stayed at that level for the next couple of hours.
And a very consistent level it was too. Apart from the (very) odd sour, we stuck to the strong IPAs and stouts throughout. Marble’s Portent of Usher (“tastes like fireworks”) and Northern Monk’s Strannik stood out for Mrs RM, but my own favourite was the Trendy Juice by Wild Beer. I may also have gone for the T0l Simcoe (13%) with my last token (bargain !!).
In our defence we needed warming up; it was getting chilly outside in the Food Village.
A few observations;
It’s not a pub – Indy Man is more like a tasting event than a trip to the pub. So ?
Murk – one or two beers were capable of murk shaming,but made no difference to us.
Value – £21 for 8 1/3rds of quality beer averaging 10%. That works for me.
Glasses – Not as good as last year, bring in nonics next year.
Food – Honest crust pizza was top notch, but it all smelt good.
The Baths – The setting is the star for me, and fans of green tiling. Mrs RM’s FaceFiends were clearly jealous of her visit, which is entirely the point. We were grateful for the outside toilets this year though.
Folk – cheery and chatty, particularly the group of Stokies with whom we debated the merits of Draught Bass. Potteries people really are the best, and it was good to hear the Coachmakers has been saved.
I’m not saying that Mrs RM had a good time, but she was very insistent I took a photo of her in the changing room.
One of the side benefits of Indy Man is the encouragement to explore unheralded bits of Manc. The A34 is a bit dull, but dull roads often breed exciting ventures, and Mrs RM spotted late night potential in Seoul Kimchi, a tiny corner shop-cum-Korean BarBQ next to the Tesco Express.
Pork Bulgogi and squid Donburi worked a treat on our hangovers. We resisted the call of Sandbar on the way back.