“IMBC 2017 was the best one yet”
In my opinion, the above statement is 100% true. Bearing in mind I didn’t attend the evening sessions this year. I’d previously attended evening sessions and found getting away from the venue late at night became a chore. By attending the day I was able to get into Manchester swiftly and even make my way home or carry on the festivities; which formed Friday’s plan.
First of all, during the build up to the tickets going on sale and sale day, many on Twitter were making a point of not going. If you don’t want to go then fair enough; I just didn’t get the whole bravado of it all. A little part of me hopes they are a bit gutted. I, on the other hand, was apprehensive as we’ve been blessed with some great events this year but I’d never miss out on IMBC. One, it’s in my own city and two, I know in the end, it will always be some sort of awesome. I took a very relaxed view of the event this year; ignoring the beer list and picking out my choice from whatever area I was stood in at the time. This worked out for me (sort of) until too many Imp. Stouts and +10% beers at the trade session meant my weekend peaked early.
Overall the beer was to a phenomenal standard. Excellent British breweries like Buxton drew in crowds with their dessert inspired beverages; adding toasted marshmallows and mini meringue into the mix. Other Half from Brooklyn had beers pouring at every session and during a conversation I was told to “go now, the queues are getting busy”. It was two-deep. I love the fact that two deep at IMBC was the equivalent of queuing up to get into St. Mark’s Basillica, Venice. Standout beers included Torrside’s Laphroaig BA Rauchwine, Cloudwater/Dugges Yummy Rummy and Odyssey Simcoe Fiend.
I’m adamant that there were less people at Victoria Baths this year. Not once, did it feel overcrowded or did anyone invade my public space. Queuing was hardly an issue (I don’t class two-deep at the bar a queue), unless an impromptu beer announcement was made. The freedom of movement convinced me to take my daughter on the Sunday as I didn’t feel I’d need to push my way through the crowds and we really enjoyed it. She’s an attention seeker like her father and loved every little smile and wave she got. I’d have never considered taking her to the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival; I can’t even face taking myself there.
This year felt really organised in terms of the flow of the event and the staff working. There was a fluidity to proceedings. In the years I have been to IMBC I have never been queuing round the back of the baths. Even though I felt so far away I was in within fifteen minutes. After the numerous issues reported from Beavertown’s Extravaganza regarding many of the breweries running dry, it COULD NOT happen at IMBC and I believe that no brewery sold-out with detrimental effects to those attending. Yes, kegs emptied but everyone had a chance to grab their third. New kegs were even being tapped on the Sunday; with Buxton having a fresh delivery arrive when I was queuing up outside.
More food was available this year with over ten vendors to fill our stomachs plus Wild Beer brought the awesome cheese again; smashing companion to their Modus Operandi served direct from a red wine cask creating a soft finish to this Flemish red-style beer. On the Saturday afternoon session I arrived in a somewhat sorry state. Laura ordered a fantastic steak pie and mash from The Northern Pie Company and we sat and reminisced about her missing out on the last two years. Firstly through illness; secondly attending whilst carrying Betty. Was my hungover self going to take it away from her for the third year in a row or would a few DIPAs ward off the shakes? They did.
With so many beer festivals in the calendar each year in the UK; plus easy access to international festivals such as Borefts and CBC, the whole experience must be considered and standards can’t slip or they fall down the pecking order. The venue of Victoria Baths always sets this event apart from other beer festivals and for me, IMBC cemented it’s position at the top of the beer festival table and it will take something astounding to change that.
IndyManBeerCon 2018: Just 12 months to go…