The Pros and Cons of Indy Man Beer Con

By way of a review of my trip to the recent Indy Man Beer Con…

Pro: Extensive selection of interesting and often limited edition beers.
Con: Hard to find a session strength beer + if you discover something heavenly there’s a good chance it might never be available again.

Pro: Historic venue, many interesting design features, a joy to behold.
Con: Food stalls being outside (this year) so having to run the gauntlet of smokers if you wanted to get a bite to eat.

Indy Man 2 2015

Pro: It’s in Manchester – a vibrant and interesting city.
Con: It’s in Manchester – a five hour train journey from Paignton.

Pro: You’ll run into lots of beery friends and brewers.
Con: You’ll end up staying out later than you intended.

Pro: The tokens are like pocket money or fruit machine winnings – and that’s sort of charming.
Con: If you don’t want to buy £10 worth the men on the token stall snarl at you somewhat.

Pro: Discovering breweries and trying new beers.
(My beer of the festival was Almasty Brewing Co’s Black IPA (6.1%) which gave me a lovely hit of leafy-grapefruity-blackcurranty hops breaking like a wave on my tongue and left rich, dark chocolatey coffee flavour behind, like two beers in one glass; runner up Northern Monk Brew Co’s Pear & Hawthorn Wit – juicy, fresh pears with a restrained balancing cereal aftertaste – disappointed to hear this was its final outing (see first con above).
Con: Printed beer lists weren’t available this year, everything was listed online only.

Pro: Multiple sessions featuring different beers daily.
Con: Missing out on beers you’d like to try if you’re only able to go to one session.

Indy Man 1 2015

The above is meant to be a bit tongue in cheek by the way. I enjoyed my trip to Indy Man Beer Con – on the Thursday night – but found it much noisier and hectic than my Sunday visit a couple of years ago and I preferred the Sunday vibe. I still wish I could have stayed longer and gone back over the weekend though! And despite the lack of session beers and other traditional British styles I’d still say IMBC is one of the most important events on the beer scene at the moment.

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4 comments

  1. Hi Sophie.

    You say the comments are made in a tongue in cheek way but there is a lot of actual truth in them. Having been to IMBC for the last three years now, I don’t see how the changes this year make the event experience any better. Not having the beer menu printed, whilst in theory a good idea, in practice what I was seeing in real-time on the website didn’t marry up with what was on offer at the bars. It is a long day and a few people in my group had run out of battery by the end of it, so they we were left to sharing phones and just walking around looking at the menus.

    I know the event is meant to be independent, but the way the bars where laid out this year with each Brewer having a stall (so to speak), actually made it feel much more corporate – you could see people like Camden Town had spent a lot of money kitting out their bar space. I can’t see why IMBC don’t brief the Brewers properly. Northern Monk had taken over the popular Turkish Baths space, yet when I talked to the their team half way through the Saturday evening session, they were down to their last 4 kegs of beer (1 of which they were saving for Sunday) and were trying to sell me cans!! Considering that the Turkish Baths has always been a popular space and their was still one and half sessions to go, surely they could have been better prepared what to expect.

    In addition, the layout didn’t work for me this year. It is obvious that the organisers want to increase numbers through the door, but if this is at the expense of event experience (as I mentioned above), then all you are doing is diluting your product. From my memory in the past, all beers were poured in pre-determined measures, so if I ordered beer A I would get 1/3 and Beer B would get me a 1/2. This year at some bars I was offered a choice between 1/3, 1/2 or 2/3 when I ordered some beers, I don’t need that much choice in my life. Couple with the lack of sessionable beers and poor representation of some styles, all the above left me with an experience that was down on previous years. That said, I will make the trip from London back again next year, mostly because I still have 8 and half tokens to use…

    One last final thing, the beer glass this year was an absolute joy – a definite pro for me.

    • Thanks for your comments Joe. Glad it wasn’t just me who found things a but hit and miss at IMBC. When I said tongue in cheek I think I meant I didn’t want it to seem like a list of whinges! Some things about IMBC are brilliant but hopefully the criticisms made by you and me will serve as constructive feedback for the organisers. As for the glass I had been a bit of a sceptic about that style of glassware but I found it really good for keg beers which sometimes benefit from warming up a little.

  2. I think there was a decent amount of sessionable beers available – however most of these were regulars such as Camden Hells, Beavertown Neck Oil and a whole host of more familiar beers. I did enjoy a cask beer from new Leeds startup Zapato (it was only a single token too) so they were lingering on the fringes if you sought them out.

    After last years festival, where all the food was cooked indoors, I’m glad they moved the food court outside. The second room became full of steam, smoke and left your clothes smelling of burgers and fries so this years setup was much more agreeable. I spent a bit of time outside and didn’t find myself bothered by secondary smoke from smokers.

    • Glad you didn’t suffer the smoke issue Matt! Maybe I picked a bad time – but it was very unpleasant. In terms of session beers I suppose I should qualify that by saying for me it is not just about ABV it’s about taste too and neither of the two you mention would be my choice for a session. I guess I’m a bit old fashioned 😉

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