Two weeks to Indy Man Beer Con (October 5-8) and a smattering of tickets remain for the UK’s best celebration of craft beer. OK, I’m biased. I’ve attended every one since its inception in 2012. The organisers trumpet it as “a multi-sensory, headlong, hop-forward beer extravaganza.” Which is spot on with 150 plus beers available at each session.
Its venue on Hathersage Road, Manchester, Victoria Baths, has been around much longer. Since 1906. First as a working public pool, latterly as a hugely atmospheric Grade II listed events space. Ticket prices have been frozen for this year’s bash, which as usual features an array of quality street food ballast alongside beers and other drinks (including non-alcoholic).
The opening Thursday night session costs £14.50, along with the Friday morning 11am to 4pm session, with the weekend daytime and evening sessions at £19. Sunday’s afternoon slot is back to £14.50, and a full weekend pass for all sessions is £75. Check for late availability at this link.
Two waves of breweries attending Independent Manchester Beer Convention 2023 (to give it its full title) have now been announced. The line-up is post-Pandemic less extravagant but still packed with stellar names. My tips: Zapato, Beak, Brasserie de la Senne, Pastore, Tommy Sjef, Neptune, Drop Project and our own Pomona Island, whose (genuinely) eagerly awaited Manchester city centre pub, the North Westward Ho opens for business on Wednesday, October 4. So that will make an ideal base camp for IMBC, if you are staying over in the city.
Keeping loyal to ‘Cottonopolis’, a further exciting arrival this October is Manchester’s Best Beer Pubs and Bars by Matthew Curtis (CAMRA Books, £16.99). Based upon his own sensible displacement from London to Manchester, it is a sequel to 2021’s Modern British Beer, lauded by this website. This will be published on Wednesday, October 18, with a launch that night at Cafe Beermoth.
Before then Matthew (above left) is also involved in an exciting new initiative at Indy Man Beer Con, wearing another hat of his, as co-editor in chief of online magazine, Pellicle, to which I am a subscriber (and so should you be, drinks lovers). Over the four days they will be running a series of live podcasts, featuring sessions including panels of craft beer professionals, including Pellicle co-founder Johnathan Hamilton (above right), brewer at Newbarns in Edinburgh. The sessions, all in the basement beneath the Thornbridge room, are… Thursday 4pm – ‘How Does the Beer Industry Navigate a Cost of Living Crisis?’; Friday 1pm –‘ An Open Discussion About Sustainability in Beer’; Saturday 1pm – Interview and Q&A with David Jesudason, Author of Desi Pubs; Sunday 1pm – ‘The Great Craft Beer Debate 2023’.
The one I hope to attend is the Saturday event, focused on Desi Pubs, a ground-breaking CAMRA Books publication, a guide to the British-Indian pubs that have sprung up throughout the UK since the 1960s. Its author, David Jesudason, spent months travelling the length and breadth of the country, to unpack the idea of the British pub as an institution and how Desi Pubs have built on this, as various communities have sought to create safe, inclusive spaces for themselves.
The book makes a fascinating companion piece to Desi Kitchen by Sarah Woods (Michael Joseph, £30), which explores the culinary evolution inside various second generation sub-continental communities across the UK. Check out my round-up of a whole new genre of ‘ethnic’ cookbooks.
Meanwhile, I’m cleansing my palate ahead of Indy Man after sampling many of the 38 smoked beers on offer at the annual ‘Smokefest’ at Torrside Brewery, New Mills, Derbyshire. It was a showcase for the subtlety and sophistication of this niche pathway. Variety is all in the brave new world of brewing.
My friend Matthew Curtis has a new book out on Wednesday (October 18, Manchester launch at Cafe Beermoth). The incomer from Lincoln, now a proud Stopfordian, has dared to write a book entitled Manchester’s Best Beer Pubs and Bars. My blog view on it. It should be an absolute corker on the evidence of its 2021 predecessor, Modern British Beer (Buy it from CAMRA Books, £16.99).