“But I thought you hated beer festivals, Retired Martin ?” I hear you say, cynically.
I do. And I detest familiarity. But still I go to IndyManBeerCon. Perhaps it’s old age. Or perhaps, like always watching “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off“, if it’s on I have to go.
Here I was, about to waste a week’s alcohol units (Spanish limits) on a festival of murk, without even the company of Mrs RM, with whom at least you can have a game of “Find the strongest beer“.
Still, this year I managed a bit of pre-Fest urban tourism, taking in Longsight. As in “Linger Longer In Lively Longsight“.
I took the 192 bus up the A6 to (source: Google maps) the only place where you can get coffee in Longsight.
Along with my Greggs bacon roll and Americano (£2 the lot) I picked up a discarded glass from the previous night. There’s now seven of them in our cupboard at home.
Longsight has a way to go to become the next Levenshulme, but it’s a good place to stock up with barfi and your vaping “essentials”.
The walk to the Victoria Baths is what we politely call “mixed“, with pleasing architecture, lost cats, and impromptu dumping grounds.
I join the queue at 11.45, and chicken out on getting an autograph from the top beer blogger talking pumpkin sours next to me.
Inside I head for the disco in room 3, forgetting to buy my little plastic tokens. But at least I get the seats closest to the speakers. Tellingly, I’m the only person here in a band T-shirt (Suggested Friends) rather than brewery merch.
It’s packed by 11.30. Perhaps the buzz around IndyMan has eased a little after half a decade, but it still seems to be dragging the Londoners and Yorkies here again.
The tokens for a third of beer are £2.80 each, and I buy 5. If you can work out my spend you get Maths “A” level.
To maximise my ROCT (return on craft tokens) I go for the strongest beers I can see*, starting with the Squawk DIPA (8%). Squawk are great, they let me have a badge.
I can’t be bothered to review the beers; they were all good, cool and not over carbonated. I bet I see less than 1% of them ever again though.
A chap in his 60s called John comes to sit at my table, and we take turns looking after each other’s collection of badges while the other goes in search of weird stuff at Verdant, Left Handed Giant and Black Iris.
I win with the Fierce 12.5% IPA, but prefer the Little Earth Project sour red, even though it’s a mere 11.3%.
John is a beer man, travelling round the country with his OAP rail card visiting breweries and festivals.
But he knows his pubs as well, and we reminisced about the days when Donny pubs only had Tets or John’s on the pumps. We shared a few thirds and I promised to say something nice about the Leeds International Beer Festival.
The discussion about prostate problems was, perhaps, more typical of Proper Pub banter.
Without the banter of John, and a lovely young couple from Stockport who claimed to be from Manchester, it would have been a bit dull.
With some folk to chat to, it’s still a top day out. And as always, the Baths themselves are the star.
Just put Draught Bass on next year though, heh ?
*In the queue for the excellent Keema Fries I bumped into the estimable John Clarke of Stockport CAMRA fame. John was drinking sensibly. Where’s the fun in that ?