Tag Archive for: Indy Man

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).

The launch of Saison de la Maison, debut beer of Balance at Cafe Beermoth was an excuse for Manchester’s beerati to come out in force. As with the arrival six weeks before (at Port Street Beer House) of another stunning new brewing operation, Sureshot it felt like confirmation the beer scene was sticking its head properly above the parapet. 

The recessionary odds are still stacked against all our breweries surviving the year. Heaven knows my hophead compadres and I are doing out best to support them. Which bring us to the restoration of beer festivals as a thing. From the traditional CAMRA-run variety such as the Stockport Beer Festival (June 16-18) to arguably the UK’s premier ‘craft’ event, Indy Man Beer Con ushering in autumn at Victoria Baths (September 29-October 2).

You’ll get a tempting taster at crafty cousin, Summer Beer Thing (June 24-26), which post-pandemic has decamped to Kampus, where the weekend food options will be a notch up on its previous Pilcrow incarnation. Ballast will be courtesy of Nell’s Pizza, Levanter and recent Kampus arrival  Pollen alongside soon-to-be neighbours Madre and Great North Pie Co. Expect a showcase of diverse beer styles plus cocktails, wine and non-alcoholic tipples, if you must.

Hip rival Mayfield Depot is also getting in on the act by hosting the return of Manchester Craft Beer Festival across the weekend of July 22-23. featuring over 50 top end breweries.

Expect fire pit food and sizzling sounds from Goldie and David Holmes. All a bit high octane for me and to get full value beerwise out of the £55 session ticket you have to be a very canny queue hopper. The likes of Marble, Track and Union Lager are representing Manchester but this is very much a festival brand that straddles several UK cities.

Another metropolitan cuckoo on our patch is Camden Town Brewery, whose latest Tank Party Roadshow is nesting at Escape to Freight Island on Friday, June 24 and Saturday 25.A single brewery tour hardly counts as a festival, even coming with its own raft of DJ and street(ish) food. The selling point is its unfiltered version of Hells Lager with an estimated 23,000 pints being poured ‘fresh from the tank’ during the Party’s parade across the UK. Camden’s owners, ABV Inbev, the world’s largest brewing operation, sure know how to market a very ordinary product.

My own properly indie dream is for a return of our own Cloudwater’s Friends, Family and Beer, which did what it said on the can by bringing to town equally renowned breweries they have collborated with cross the globe. After glitches first time around the sophomore event at Manchester Central in February 2020 was the most exciting beer celbration I’ve ever attended. And the good news? I ran into Cloudwater founder Paul Jones at the Balance launch and he intimated Friends and Family my reassemble in 2023.

Meanwhile, two smaller scale events that are perfect for my modest beer needs.

The first four days in September mark the return of Farm Trip. Venue a hilltop farm-based brewery I have lauded previously – Rivington, high above Horwich. For its outstanding views and brews. The Brewing Co’s first Trip was hastily assembled in 2021; the follow-up more measured, promising 120 beers poured through 41 lines. Do check it out.

Such an exposed spot has it weather risks. That’s not the case with Track’s large and stylish taproom in Ardwick, Manchester and, in case it’s sunny, they’ve just opened a new garden.  The beers, too, are as good as it gets but food offerings have failed to match their quality so far. Until now with the arrival of ‘Disco Cauliflower’ as part of a kitchen takeover (Friday, June 17, 5pm-10pm and Saturday 18, 1pm-10pm) by Liverpool based restaurant group Maray, who are promoting their new Manchester venue in Lincoln Square, set to open this summer. One of those arrivals you file as ‘much anticipated’.

Three of their staple dishes will put in an appearance – their flagship falafel; hummus, chermoula and flatbread; and disco cauliflower (3,000 of these are sold each month in Liverpool). To accompany there’s  collab beer Track have brewed for the new restaurant. Maray PA is described as‘Sunshine caught in a can! Bright zesty lemon gives way to gentle ebbs of white grape and grapefruit for a truly thirst quenching pale ale.” You’ll also be able to buy it in cans from bottle shops in between festivals!


Check individual festival websites for ticket sales. Such is the thirst many sessions are already sold out.