Debuting as a guest blogger for us, below you can read the account of Matt Jeffs (@):
Before my impulse to ‘TRY ALL THE BEERS’ took over, I traded some freshly acquired tokens for two lots of ‘High Wire: Grapefruit, 5.5%’ from Magic Rock and sat down with my more level headed plus one. The beer was, and this should come as no surprise, brilliant. I’ve been pretty keen on ‘High Wire’ for a while and this edition with added grapefruit loses almost nothing, aside from being less of a session beer due to the big hit of grapefruit. First beer of Indyman 2015 was a win courtesy of Magic Rock.
Quaffing liquid in hand and bums on seats we got to (loosely) planning the day… Though a little tardy thanks to a delayed train I did notice that there was a lot more of a crowd from that time last year (around 12:30). However the atmosphere felt good, excited (and as someone who has spent a lot of time in venues full of humans getting a buzz on) and a lot safer. Something I feel nails home the difference between people who like to drink and people who like to get drunk.
By this point something that had been sloshing away at the back of my brain coalesced. Indyman (Independent Manchester Beer & Stuff Convention) was full of the establishment… the establishment of the *cough* craft beer scene mind you, but this is one convention I’d hate to see become conventional. completely unrelated… Camden Town were taking up a lot of space for their standard offerings. I’m not sure being in the same room as Moor, Wild Beer, Magic Rock etc did them any favours….. what I’m saying is it was a boring selection made to look even more boring by being contrast against much more interesting fare.
Over in the Pineapple room Cloudwater had set up shop, so before heading back into the fray a ‘Sour Cherries 6.5% Barrel Aged’ was had. Sour is not exactly my go to style, but I do find myself coming around to the idea…. However this one had to much vinegar for my own personal taste, nonetheless the ‘Red Ale 4.8%’ did what it said on the tin. Next Beer up to bat was a ‘Dark Hopfler 2.5% Milk Stout’ Much as I want to try new things I’ve not had this lovely little beer since a Pied Bull Beer festival many months ago. Plus one however decided to go big, heading over to Hawkshead and grabbing a ‘Chocolate and Tonka Bean Imperial Porter 8.5%’ as far as I can tell, it is some of the last of a very limited edition, one I can only hope they bring back because it was fucking weird in the best kind of way.
Outside, the Boredog van was parked up with the ‘street food’ vendors (street food is apparently what you call normal food when you charge haute cuisine prices). I did hand over a single token to the rebel kings of outlaw brewing for a glass of ‘Doodlebug 2.8%’ that for a low ABV was alright, not bad, but alright. However I thought 2 token for punk IPA was a bit much when it’s cheaper in Weatherspoons.
I don’t think I played it safe this year (trying a sour an all) but there seemed to be a lot less of the ‘new’ in attendance. Perhaps with ‘craft’ having gone mainstream the zeitgeist has shifted accordingly. Nonetheless, in an industry that rivals Design for being full of wanky hipsters, its good to see things ‘done well’ instead of some random crap tossed off by a twat with a trust fund, beard and tight jeans. On that not two beers that stood out for me at Indyman 2015 were ‘Tsujigiri 6.5%’ yuzu, lemony, herby goodness IPA from Weird Beard and their Collaboration brew with Brodie’s ‘Weird Brodmance 10.2%’, a lovely maple imperial stout (on cask). So for me Weird Beard won the day by being both solid and interesting.
So, to sum up, is Indyman worth the trip from Chester? (I’d qualify this, but if you are reading Chester Beer Blog, I think it’s redundant) Damn skippy! Its a fun day, there are fantastic beers on offer and there are some ace pubs by Piccadilly for the trip home. However I would suggest taking you own lunch and saving the tokens for beer. so to those of you reading this start making your plan for Indyman 2016!