Second year, second killer @IndyManBeerCon.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about actual beers. But… but… it’s a *beer* festival?! Well, yeah, I drank quite a few and a majority of them have some vague notes on Untappd. Mostly not-at-all-run-of-the-mill stuff, not a single drainpour – although one came close! (Not “bad” just “cloyingly sweet”.) The biggest problem with IMBC is the sheer number of beers I *want* to try, an impossible number. With your typical beer festival I am lucky to get a shortlist of 10 beers that just slightly excite me. So… a change of pace is required – which really adds to the charm of the festival for me. I’m not trying to work through a list, or bag beers, I’m hangin’. Plus what use are my notes on one-off beers and a list of barely accessible “top picks”? The beer was, in general, bloody outstanding. Moving on…
Even more fun was to be had simply basking in the glow of the still-developing UK beer scene – hanging out with folk passionate about what they drink and what they brew… hanging out until around 4AM on two nights! 8-O It took me 4 days to get back to a normal sleeping pattern. Our IMBC started before IMBC did – getting up at 4AM on Wednesday October 9th to drive up to Manchester and help out with the event set-up from 10AM that day. Hotel check-in done, and then a night in Port Street Beer House. A bit of a killer pre-IMBC day for us – but believe it or not we consider all this a “holiday” from our sitting-on-our-arse-all-day worklives. The 8 tokens each we got for the effort are a happy bonus.
From then on it was all drinkin’! Yeah! Back in March buying “full fat” tickets seemed a grand idea… we’d not really properly pondered the crazy Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun full-on festival experience of this though. Thursday was a steady session in the baths with an “early” night to bed in the hotel at about half past the witching hour. Friday was when the party really started, an afternoon BrewDog Mancs lunch then a grand and social IMBC evening – finishing up the night in Port Street with brewing scene stars then back in the Travelodge foyer with many of them at about 4AM. Adoring beer groupies, us. After this we slowed up… paced ourselves, enjoyed the beer, people, food, and information flow. The hangover on Saturday “lite” session helped with the slow-down ;) and a mid-session “nanna nap” helped with the evening winding back up to speed…. despite a pledge not to, on Saturday night we “accidentally” ended up in BrewDog Mancs with beerstars again… c’est la vie!
During the event we attended a few talks – mainly for the sake of the beer. Not really, well – not entirely ;) In no particular order: It was excellent hearing @Lovibonds “I HATE PowerPoint” Jeff tell us of how “Sour Grapes” came about. From fortuitous twist of fate that, literally, seeded regular commercial production of sour beer. During the session we tasted the Henley Gold, the Sour Grapes, and the Barrel Aged Sour Grapes – three distinctly different beers with the same origin, it is the Henley Gold that becomes the sour by some sort of dark brewer magic.
Whilst RedWillow @TobyMcKenzie‘s “IBU” talk was a non-starter for technical reasons, we ended up with a very entertaining talk on beer diversity instead – from live “dry chipotle-ing” a stout, through one of the best oyster stouts I’ve ever had, to a truly weird and wrong homebrew – Toby exposing his roots. Ballsy place to finish given that his 2012 IMBC “yeast” talk was pretty much a “here’s some not very nice beer, drink it in the name of science”. But believe me the real RedWillow product is damn fine. Oh my, I really need more of that oyster stout – it was amazing.
The @SimplyHops Jack talk on use of hops in brewing was on the drier side (hah hah), but I like the technical as much as the entertaining – his exaggerated “where hops can be added” slide was great. I can hear the shout of the hop-head-hipsters: ALL OF THE HOP SPOTS! Scott from @thebeermoth introduced the probably-already-converted to some excellent “wild” beers, taste exploration – it’s what I’m all about.
Finally @Darkstartbrewco head brewer Andy gave us an excellent, detailed and down-to-earth run-down of what’s up at the brewery – it looks to me like brewing in DarkStar has been passed on to good hands. (Factoid: Andy used to work for BrewDog! Seems to be quite a few former-BrewDog folk heading on to big things elsewhere.) That was our lot… sadly clashes and late-arrivals to sessions meant we didn’t catch several talks we wanted to.
I have video footage of most of these talks and some is definitely worth putting online, especially Lovibonds Jeff and Darkstar Andy. But first I’ll want to check it’s OK with the brewers and then I need to find the time to clean it up for publishing. For the moment there are some brief appearances from the speakers in my wacky video below!
Count the brewers? :) I gave up at 15. :-p I also have film of more Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band pieces which they’ve permitted me to publish, so I’ll see about cleaning them up too. The videoing is a bit crap, but the beatz are wikkid!
Food… haven’t covered that yet have I. A greater variety and better set-up and availability than 2012. We went to every IMBC session and ate at all but one of them and could have something different every time. Ideal. Not only that but the food was, as last year, far better quality than the typical beer festival fare. Quality and flavour – not “stodge” – craft eats? It was the Guerrilla Eats collective behind this, providing a culture- and taste-spanning diversity. Hand formed beef burgers made with rough minced beef that looked and tasted amazing, paella, dosa, rich stews (boar and black pudding – yum!), pulled pork, gourmet hotdogs with Punk IPA sauerkraut, nachos… IMBC is a solid as well as liquid festival for the tastebuds. And on top of all this the wonderful @NorthTeaPower folk brought an espresso machine along this year… perfect way to start a session after a big previous night of beery celebration.
Is IMBC a “Woodstock” for my generation of beer lovers?
I’m looking forward to 2014 already.
P.S. After last year’s IMBC Kat put together some phone-taken video and photos to create this much darker “scary MagicRockStu clown” video:
#RIPScoop – makeup artiste!