Beer festivals. You either love ‘em or you’re a bit weird. I mean they are the only legal thing that you can do without feeling guilty that you should be in the pub. Ok maybe one of two things. But back to IndyManBeerCon. This beer festival, that had its premier last year, was back. Back in the splendour of the Victorian Baths, but bigger and better. Yes, it wasn’t just their abbreviation that had been upgraded. The whole festival had been supersized. But bigger isn’t necessarily better; so how did it fare?

The basic setup was the same as last year. Entry was by advance ticket only and once inside tokens, equivalent to 50p and £1, were purchased in batches of £10. This year, however, the festival had expanded to take in Thurs-Sun sessions with a varying rota of beers for each day. To accommodate this, more use of the Baths was made with bars in Rooms 1-3 and Magic Rock holding court in the Turkish Bath room. I thought this an excellent layout with the live music, which was pretty good from what I heard, confined to room 3.
What else do you need to know? Well the food was excellent: plenty of quality choices but with Chaat Cart in attendance, there could only be one winner. One welcome addition was the introduction of draught Italian beer this year. There’s some cracking stuff being produced over there and they even had the sublime Toccalmatto on cask. Respect! Of course this was all dispended in dinky third glasses that were very nice. But, judging by the broken glass trail on Friday night, perhaps a little too delicate for some people to get home safely.
There was more beer, better beer than last year. More seating, erm, better seating than last year. Disabled access was better. I think you’re getting the picture. In summary, if you weren’t there, you missed a treat. I was going to tell you which was my favourite session but then you might turn up and spoil it next time, Ok that’s enough rambling, I hear the crowd roar. What about the beer? Without further ado, then, out of the 35 beers I had or, more precisely, can recall having, these stood out:
  • Toccalmatto Ambrosia Complex and tasty floral-elderflower, jasmine-and spiced citrusy wheat beer from Bruno and co.
  • Hawkshead Great White This wheat beer put even Toccalmatto in the shade. Crisp and punchy lemon flavours made this a great refresher. One of the beers of the festival.
  • Mikkeller It’s Alive Barrel Aged Chardonnay Mango Well this had the barrel-aged brettheads swooning but it was basically rubbish. Leather yes, but no mango.
  • Thornbridge Otters Tears This was a collaboration with the IndyManBeerCon team in memory of Simon Johnson. A beautifully balanced IPA that was very drinkable.
  • Buxton Dry Hopped Gold My beer of the festival. A sublime fruit driven hop kick that just demanded you come back for more.
  • Redchurch Shoreditch Blonde Disappointing blonde ale that comes across as a lager hybrid. The Belgian yeast is not helped by the sweet malt backbone.
  • Toccalmatto Zona Cessarini Their classic IPA on nandpump? Say no more.
  • Beavertown Black Betty Aged I think this is a black IPA aged in bourbon barrels-the brewer did tell me-I may be wrong. Either way, it was rich and vinous but I think I prefer the normal version.
  • Brodies Citra At 3.1% this is the best low strength beer out there. Does what it says on the tin and without the alcohol.
  • Brodies London Sour Apricot The programme said Mandarin but we got Apricot instead. Nice if you like having the enamel stripped off your teeth. Yes, no doubt someone thought it was the beer of the festival but they’d be wrong. It was bloody awful.
  • To Øl Fuck Art This is Advertising Another duffer. Heavy on the alcohol, well it is 11.3% but little going for it, otherwise.
  • Weird Beard Hoppy American Wheat I was sceptical of this but it did deliver the best of both styles. Drinkable for 5.5% as well.
Y:all come back now, y'hear...

Update: Anyone with unwanted tokens can donate them to the Victoria Baths restoration project by posting them or delivering them in person to Port Street Beer House


Curmudgeon said…
But what were the prices like?
Tyson said…
Erratic. Obviously, given the token structure, the cheapest worked out at £3 a pint. It was then anything up to £9 a pint, but you could pay as much, or little, for a 4% as a 6.5%. So there was no real benchmark. But Sam Smiths it wasn't.
Curmudgeon said…
I see Tandy has now answered the question. £3 a pint isn't bad, all things considered, but then a jump straight to £4.50 is a bit eye-watering.
Cooking Lager said…
Need more observational hipster trends. Skinny jeans still in? check shirts, pencil thin ties, daft beards & hats?
Curmudgeon said…
Any spottings of meggings or onesies?
Tyson said…
No onesies apart from the one I was wearing, obviously. Treggings and very skinny jeans are definitely in while bootcut is definitely out. Quite normal, for hipsters, really.
Coxy said…
I was paying an average of 2 tokens so that's £6 a pint. I expect to pay more for craft beer but I think one or two people were taken back.
Phil said…
Taken back? I'd need to be taken out, possibly feet first. IndyMoreMoneyThanSenseSawYouComingCon, more like. H'mph.

I'll probably go next year, though.
Barry said…
A very relaxed festival, I thought. Much better this year with the keg and cask beers mixed. Despite my ticking colleagues being upset by this arrangement, it can only be the future. It's certainly one in the eye for traditional Camra festivals.

Talking of Camra and beer festivals, did you think there were more drunks than usual? I did and I heard some people were ejected? Also the non refundable tokens is a major bone of contention. Other than that I really enjoyed it.
Simon Ashton said…
The token situation was a joke. It was bad enough that you had to buy them in bundles of £10 but making them non refundable was nothing short of a rip off.
Anonymous said…
Yeah there was no warnings of last prders and I ended up throwing my tokens at one of the staff
Tyson said…
Now you mention it, unusually, there were some people even more pissed than me and, yes, I did witness someone being helped from the premises. I suppose if the aim of having third measures was to curtail excess drinking, then it failed on that score.

There were quite a few angry customers queuing on Saturday to complain about the token situation. I sold my two on but perhaps for next year they could have a charity bucket for left over tokens?
Cooking Lager said…

I'll give that a miss then. I have a wallet full of tokens. The fiat currencies of sterling and euro. Most places are happy to accept them in return for a beer.

If people don't want them for a beer they can hawk it to the daft sods happy to buy special beer money tokens.

Popular posts from this blog

The Kimberley Club

British Guild Beer Writers Awards & Camden Brewery

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Suke Quto Coffee IPA