INDY MAN ’17 – AMONGST WOLVES

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Two competing blog posts to finish today; the monthly review and my annual reflection on Indy Man Beer Con, which at least this year I can remember.

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Once more, the Bath’s the Star. One of the great venues anywhere, and the main reason I come back each year despite telling you consistently that beer festivals are killing pubs.

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I touched the fish mosaic, a bit like touching the “This is Anfield” sign, I think.

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I would have touched the Chris Tavaré window too, but it was too high up and you can get arrested for Tavaré worship round here.

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Block, Chris, block

Following the pattern of last year, my first with Mrs RM, the good lady made straight for what I think of as the “music room” at 11.33 on Friday morning, claiming a table for her own while I was sent off to fetch beer and beer food like the hunter/gatherer I am.

And there sat Mrs RM for the next 4 hours, providing me with blog material enjoying the finest craft beer in Longsight.

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Richard from Wolverhampton joined us, and great company he was too, having not yet read my blog post slagging off the new craft place in West Brom.  These sort of festivals are always better with a bit of company.

Mrs RM and I shared the beer tokens (£25 for 11 thirds) almost equally; I fear Richard may have had to had to drink more himself, given his performance of this classic standing on the Siren bar at the end of the session.

Just kidding, the Stop Making Sense DJs didn’t play any Slade.

My appreciation of the music isn’t shared by Mrs RM.  “It’s weird” she said, not entirely unfairly.  I’m not even sure she recognised “Bankrobber“.

Others will write about the beer, I just went round looking for the murkiest stuff so I could write about Manchester Murk on my blog and get cheap laughs.

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Everyone else’s beer was murkier than mine, so I had to borrow Richard’s glass (top).

Learning from last year, we worked through beers in the wimpy 6 to 7% range, enjoying nearly all of them, and finished on Track’s Skyway, which (as they say) drank it’s 9 % strength.

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I stuck largely to the breweries I’d enjoyed on cask in the last year; Atom, Left Handed giant, Northern Monk, Squawk and Burning Sky, with a sole cask offer from Wild Beer (their silky smooth barley wine).

Not for the first time, a Squawk win for me, ahead by a beak.

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As with my music festival of choice, the food is a big draw an Indy Man.  Chips and pork belly from Nasi Lemak and Dim Sum Su, cherry pie doughnuts and coffee from Idle Hands, all decently priced and consumed in seconds by Mrs RM.

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Not a cheap day out (though cheaper than an evening in Mikkeller), and of course all those beers would be better in a pint glass, but still an unmissable date in the Manchester calendar. The rest of the day was a bit of a write-off, mind.

23 thoughts on “INDY MAN ’17 – AMONGST WOLVES

  1. The building hosting IMBC is bloody gorgeous. Great venue!

    Good idea on having decently priced food (and that it goes well with the beer being drunk).

    As for the map; they should have had a “Ham Room” next to the “Pineapple Room”. Then they could’ve gotten together and made a beautiful pizza. 🙂

    Cheers

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My grandad used to go swimming there in the thirties. They’re in Chorlton-on-Medlock rather than Longsight, which starts a bit further south and east around the junction of Plymouth Grove and Stockport Road.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I will take a counterpoint to your, ‘Beer Festivals are Killing Pubs’ remark.

    While you were paddling about in the deep end at the ‘M’ place, I was at a rather wonderful little beer festival in Hebden Bridge. Discussions with the organisers went along the lines that the local licensees thought it was rather good for business as a lot of festival goers piled into the local pubs for a drink on their ways home. I noted a lot of regular festival goers, who I know to be staunch advocates of the good old British Pub, who travel to both festivals and to towns with excellent hostelries (a bit like yourself). Additionally, the festival organisers had produced a professional guide to the pubs of Hebden Bridge in order to promote the town as a year round venue. I collected one of the leaflets and was fortunate enough to chat with the author. I will definitely be coming back, with a group of friends to sample the towns hostelries one Saturday afternoon.

    My own observations with Clifford Beer Festival, from conversations with the licensees, is the event provides all three pubs with an additional Christmas eve/Bank Holiday as the festival goers call in to the pubs after they have visited the festival. Essentially the festival is bringing additional trade into the village and if just a handful of them return on another day, then we have succeeded in promoting our locality, our pubs and the local economy. If you go in The Bay Horse, I reckon that every third glass served is a ‘Clifford Beer Festival glass’, the unequivocal evidence of festival goers visiting and leaving their glasses behind (probably because they are, by that stage, inebriated, in a nice way).

    Lastly, a good beer festival demonstrates to people what good beer should be like, it educates them around different beer styles, brewers and generally what they might be missing in their dreary local that might only serve a sad pint of Doom Bar or similarly industrial produced ales.

    For these reasons, I believe that beer festivals are a good thing that should be encouraged.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You need to turn that into a blogpost, Richard. But the argument only really stands up if you don’t think that the people attending beer festivals would otherwise be drinking in pubs 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I see the Beer Festival, almost as a Pop Up pub Mudgie. Here today, gone tomorrow. You can’t go to a beer festival everyday, unless you travel extensively, and not many people do so. For me the key attraction at a beer festival is beer! I think Martin is quite right when he observes that many GBG pubs now are the ones with an extensive range, hopefully of quality cask ales, lagers, key keg and global beers. That is what people will seek out. As with everything, there needs to be a happy medium, an attractive and ever changing range, with an odd favourite AND TOP QUALITY. Getting back to the thread of argument, I think that the people at beer festivals will have been in a pub regularly before they went to the beer festival, and will go regularly after they have attended, if not on the same day as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Essentially the festival is bringing additional trade into the village

      …at the expense of pubs outside it. Take three people, who would normally spend their Saturday night drinking 6 pints in their local in Upper, Middle, and Lower Martinville. One day Upper Martinville has a beer festival and each of them go there to have 6 pints. The local and the visitor stop off at the Upper Martinville pub for a pint afterwards, but the net result is still that the pub economy is 16 pints down on where it would be on a normal Saturday, although the breweries are two pints up, which is not to be ignored. The Upper Martinville pub has had double the people through the door, but is still 4 pints down on a normal Saturday. Certainly October can be the second weakest month of the year for pubs, thanks to all the festivals at this time.

      I kinda buy the argument about introducing the cask-curious – at least a beer festival should have no freshness worries, but the nature of the beast can mean it’s not always kept brilliantly. But that’s more true of the village festival where there might be one tied pub in the village that struggles on throughput beyond a line or two of the tied brewery, and public transport to neighbouring festivals is non-existent. I think where festivals are really damaging are in the market towns where there’s probably a historical surfeit of pubs, but you can get a pretty decent range of beer within 15 minutes walk. So the “introduction to beer” argument has far less force, but even the good pubs will be struggling a bit from a declining market with a surplus of pubs, yet those are the kind of places where you seem to get the most festivals for local good causes, even if the local CAMRA branch hold their main festival in the next town (but public transport is good enough that the enthusiasts will go there on that weekend).

      The other thing is that festivals seem to be a bit in denial about their effect on pubs, whereas they could work much more proactively to encourage the concept of pubgoing to the less pubby members of their audience.

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      1. “The local and the visitor stop off” – I meant “The local and one of the visitors stop off”, the other visitor had to run for his bus or whatever. You won’t get 100% of festival visitors going to the pub afterwards, by a long way.

        On the glasses point – I’d be surprised if more than a handful came from leave-behinds in the pub. Far more likely that the pub has sponsored the glasses for the festival on the basis that they get any glasses that are not used on the day. Pubs have to buy a lot of glasses anyway, so it’s not too much bother to anticipate that some of the annual purchase will come via the beer festival, and festivals have to over-order glasses because of the potential losses from not being able to offer someone a glass.

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      2. I guessed you meant that.

        Of course, some people prefer beer festivals to pubs, they really do (not our Richard), and they’re quite entitled to do what they want. But blaming pub chains for pubs woes is wide of the mark, and CAMRA setting up fests in competition with pubs can’t help.

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