Hello and welcome to the link-heavy second part of the Independent Manchester Beer Convention 2014; where I will discuss what really does set Indy Man Beer Con apart from most other beer festivals.
Obviously with most regular beer festivals, the space they are held in is a big factor in what can and can’t be included at the event. In a big open hall or tent you can only really expect beer and food – there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I am more than happy with that.
But when there is space abundant then organisers really should think outside the box.
Beer festivals are there to promote the beer and the brewers. People who like beer and who even brew their own go to these things regularly, so I would always expect actual professional brewers to make the attempt to attend a few, this can only ever pay dividends to their product.
In January the Manchester Beer Festival 2014 (Velodrome) did try this, holding talks with brewers at random times (nothing massively organised) but it was a start. To hear the Hawkshead brewer talking about hops was fantastic, to smell just a few of the different kinds gives a whole new appreciation of the brewing process, especially when not held in the confines of a brewery.
By being held at Victoria Baths the organisers of IMBC have so much space to put on different events that they (and we the punters) are spoiled for choice.
This year they even opened the cellar for some pop-up talks, surprise bottle tastings and sour beers tasting hosted by Beer Moth
I didn’t get to them. Sadly I also missed a talk about gypsy/cuckoo brewers, which also sounded very interesting.
However what I did get to were talks about home brewing and yeast.
The Number of the Yeast
This Iron Maiden fan was always going to go along to something like this. Having taking the day off out of my lab to go to the both Friday sessions, I was treated to a talk by Troels Prahl of White Labs (in association with Simply Hops)
We were given two versions of a Helles beer to try (I think, I did leave for a pee just after the start); Camden Hells and Beavertown Hell (ironic given just a few weeks earlier all Helles had broken loose about the naming of said style of beer (deftly summarised here by Matthew Curtis on his Total Ales Blog).
What followed was then a home brewers, microbiologists and scientists wet dream – drinking beers while getting the geek on.
If only my job featured ppm’s, flocculation, attenuation, etc. and was this entertaining I’d not be such a miserable git. I’m in the wrong game.
And it was free.
Also free and very lively, again with beer tastings was:
Get You Mash On!
Now I’m going to cop-out and post a link to the Crema Blog reviewing the evening.
Audience participation at this event was a must. People sat and listened to each other, banded about ideas, completely wrote-off the strict rules that are used to judge beers at competitions.
You got the feeling a very small, slightly inebriated revolution was starting in the room. You get that feeling in general when you attend IMBC. This is a place free from “big name” corporate-mega-international brewers. This is grass-roots at its ultimate. Enthusiasts getting together and making notes, sharing thoughts.
Beer School is in.
If slagging-off the big brewers and the traditional trains of brewing thought is elitism then you can stamp a big E on me.
Apart from being a very entertaining hour, I say with no reservations at all, that the 3 beers we had at this talk were up there with the best for sale in the rooms below us.
If people are producing beer like this in their own homes with kit knocked together from computer fans and old kettles then the future of British brewing is very bright.
This concludes Part 2, I envisaged a further 2 parts, the beer reviews are up next…