Drinking high strength ales in the middle of a Victorian swimming pool doesn’t sound like the safest place to be, does it? Thankfully the water has long been drained and it now makes for a spectacular venue to hold one of the UK’s hottest beer festivals; Indy Man Beer Con (IMBC). Manchester’s beautiful Victoria Baths are elegant and historic, stunning yet robust, sobering but still intoxicating. While there is little doubt that you could hold a beer festival in the middle of a pig farm and most people would still have fun, the location of IMBC plays a huge part in creating an inspiring atmosphere. Whether you are walking in the deep end of a swimming pool or playing hide and seek in one of the changing cubicles, it is impossible to take your eyes off the surroundings.
Now in its fourth year, it is easy to see why IMBC has grown in success year on year. With the beautiful location comes equally beautifully crafted beers from breweries such as Wylam, Thornbridge, Magic Rock, Beavertown and Cloudwater to name but a few. It was noticeable that the majority of breweries had opted to pack out their bars with higher strength beers. Not something that I had any issue with personally but the inevitable buzz that occurs at all beery events, even to those with the most hollow of legs did arrive a little earlier than normally expected. That’s not to say that the more sessionable beers weren’t available, they were but you did have to keep your eyes peeled for them.
Here are some of my beery highlights from the festival –
- Camden Town Brewery - Aussie Hopped Lager; One of the more sessionable brews. Sweet caramel biscuits meet hop charged punches of peat and fruits.
- Cloudwater - Sour White Peach Sherry; Exactly as it says, sour peach blended perfectly with sweet, tangy sherry.
- Beavertown - Stingy Jack; Pumpkin ales aren’t for everyone but this one might just convert some. Crazy spices, sweet pumpkin and caramel lavished into a deep brown ale.
- Thornbridge - Eikenboom; Funky yeast takes this sweet, biscuity dark ale almost all the way to Belgium.
- Magic Rock - Dancing Bear Bavarian Extra Pils; This bear really does dance on your tongue. Doughy bread, honey, hay and bursts of citrus with a clean dry finish.
Another bonus that was on offer was the festival’s very own canning line. This gave you the option of filling a can(s) with whatever beer you wanted and it would be sealed there. This may be a bit gimmicky but I did like having the option of taking away some of the best beers I’d tried on the day that weren’t necessarily for sale in bottle or can from the brewer. Moreover, as the beers were can sealed they lasted much longer than the usual growlers you can sometimes get filled as well as being easier and lighter to transport. When I got around to drinking my cans they tasted as fresh as when I’d had the beers at the festival. A small way of reviving the memories of a fantastic day.
The day I spent at IMBC felt unfairly brief and fleeting. There was so much to take in, so much architecture to admire, so many interesting people to talk to and of course, so many great beers to try. I can completely understand why numerous people choose to get tickets for multiple sessions over the weekend. I shall be doing the same next year.
|A view from above|
|Almost exposed by the awesome Matt Curtis (@totalcurtis)|
|Jasper with the first pour of the Yuzu infused IHL|
|Hide and seek anyone?|
|The architectural gem - Victoria Baths|