This is a review for the first (of many) Independent Salford Beer Festival of 2014.
Or ISBF – obviously.
Now when you have Manchester’s premier beer blogger*, Beers Manchester (Jim), (twitter: @BeersManchester) setting up a festival, describing the setup and lay out is a bit redundant, I can just send you to the site…
Held at Saint Sebastian’s Community Centre in Salford, to raise money for the centre, this was the first beer festival to be held in Salford since 1978.**
It took place over the 24th and 25th of October 2014 at a cost (online) of £3.50 day session and £4.50 for the evening slots.
Beer prices averaged (accordingly by ABV) about £1 a third to £3.40 for the full on +7%ers.
That’s the cold hard figures out of the way, now lets look at the little things.
The website puts a long of other websites to shame for ease of use and informativeness and this carried forward into the festival.
Call me biased because I actually volunteered for the whole thing, I don’t mind, if you went to it you know you had a good time. A very good time.
It was a proper community festival.
But also more than that, you can tell Jim knows what he likes from all the beer festivals he must have attended throughout the years, it showed. Just look at the glasses and programmes.
Nothing was being done by halves. Pint glasses marked in 1/3rds and 1/2 and these wonderful beasts:
A 2/3rds glass (marked in thirds and halves too) – called; amongst other things by the punters: tulip, stemmed, wine, lovely, nice, posh, ladies, girlie, tasting and not-the-pint-one.
The bar itself was resplendent with its 36 beers and 4 ciders/perries.
The beers (much better viewing on the actual website) were as follows:
Allgates (Wigan) – Half-Devil – Kazbek Hop Pale Ale (3.33%)
Atom (Hull) – Yorkshire Harvest – Green Hop Wheat Beer (4.2%)
Bad Seed (Malton) – Yorkshire (Fresh) Hops – Brown Ale (3.8%)
BlackJack (Manchester) – King of Clubs (Port) – Strong Stout (7.4%)
Blackedge Brew Co. (Bolton) – Brewers Gold – Golden Ale (3.9%)
Brass Castle Brewery (Malton) – Hazelnut Mild – Mild (4.2%)
Brewsmith Beer (Ramsbottom) – Oatmeal Stout – Stout (5.2%)
Bridestones Brewing (Hebden Bridge) – American Pale – Pale Ale (5%)
Brightside Brew Co. (Bury) – Amarillo – Single Hop IPA (5%)
Cheshire Brewhouse (Congleton) – Howling House – Session Black IPA (5%)
Cwrw Ial (Llanarmon yn Ial) – Limestone Cowboy – US-Hopped Copper Ale (5%)
Deeply Vale Brewery (Bury) – Doigys Deeply Dark – Black IPA (4.5%)
First Chop Brew Arm (Salford) – TOC – Pale Ale (4.2%)
First Chop Brewing Arm / Shindigger Brew Co. (Salford) – PIP – Citra and Sorachi Ace Saison (6.3%)
Five-Oh Brew Co. (Bury) – Sorachi Ace Stout – Stout (6.5%)
Five Towns Brewery (Wakefield) – Raven King – Coffee Porter (5.5%) – said 6% on the clip.
Five Towns Brewery (Wakefield) – Grounds for Divorce – Belgian-Style Tripel (7.8%)
Hand Drawn Monkey Brewing Co. (Huddersfield) – Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte – Cherry & Forest Fruit Brown Ale (3.6%)
Hornbeam Brewery (Manchester) – Lemon Blossom – Pale Ale (3.7%)
Indy Man Brew House (Manchester) – Omniporter – Porter (5%)
Liverpool Craft Beer Co. (Liverpool) – Toast – Amber Ale (4.2%)
Marble Brewery (Manchester) – Pint – Pale Session Ale (3.9%)
North Riding Brew Pub (Scarborough) – Fat Lads Mild – Mild (4.5%)
Offbeat Brewery (Crewe) – Way Out Wheat – Wheat Beer (4.5%)
Outstanding Brewing (Bury) – Red – Red Ale (4.4%)
Privateer Beers (Stockport) – Patriot – Pale Ale (3.9%)
Quantum Brewing Co. (Stockport) – Small Beer – Pale Ale (2.6%)
Revolutions Brew Co. (Castleford) – October – Green Hop Pale Ale (4.5%)
Ringway Brewery (Stockport) – Admiral Pale – Pale Ale (3.5%)
Runaway Brewery (Manchester) – American Brown – Brown Ale (5.7%)
Sevenbro7hers Brewery (Salford) – IPA – IPA (4.5%)
Shindigger Brewing Co. (Manchester) – Hoppy Lager – Lager (Cask Conditioned) (5.5%)
Squawk Brewing Co. (Manchester) – Coffee Stout – Stout (6%)
Tickety Brew (Stockport) – Coffee & Star Anise Porter – Porter (5.1%)
Two Roses Brewery (Barnsley) – Chinook – Single Hop Pale Ale (4%)
Wilson Potter Brewery (Rochdale) – Second Skin(ful) – Pale Ale (4%)
What I have put in italics are firsts (that I know of) – first time available anywhere, first time available on cask and in the big case of the Five-Oh Sorachi Ace Stout, the first and ONLY time he/they will produce a cask beer.
Think about that – a first time festival also gets all these firsts on the beers front – just think about that.
What makes it even more of a community was the amount of brewers that did turn up for the festival:
Allgates, BlackJack, Brewsmith, First Chop Brewing Arm, the boys from Shindigger, Five Towns, Ringway, The Runaway, Seven Bro7hers (well, 3 of them) and TicketyBrew on a whistle-stop tour.
I had great pleasure when someone order a specific drink, of pointing out the brewer to them; they all seemed more than pleased to talk to anyone who wanted a chat – they themselves were quite happy and merry with all the beers too (I’m looking at you BlackJack, Runaway & Shindigger).
But the above and beyond the call of duty goes to Cwrw Ial Brewery and Doug the Head Brewer.
Not only did he turn up with some of his bottles and host an impromptu Meet The Brewer/Tasting (attended by a few of the other brewers) but he then put in a shift behind the bar – on top of having driven from and then driving back to Wales. Not bad for a Kiwi.
The Friday afternoon was a quiet, peaceful and relaxed affair – a few of the bumps got sorted out, the nerves were quelled that the scanner apps on phones worked, all in anticipation of the Friday evening session, a sell-out.
What appeared to be most of Bolton Market stall holders (lead by Great Ale and Nkono) and seemingly all the punters that go there descended on the festival, along with lots of other locals and the not-so-local; someone can down from Scotland, someone can up from Birmingham and one other chap came via Dubai.
The call had been well and truly heard.
Saturday day and evening sessions also sold out.
Saturday evening also saw local band Duke and the Darlings do a few short sets of acoustic numbers, complemented the drinking and the mood of the festival very well.
The food too was top-notch.
Carrs pasties, hot-pot pies, vegetable stew, mince stew, peas, all served with gigantic slabs of bread – everything the committed festival goer (and worker) needs.
It is hard to pick the best beer – all were good, some were absolutely stellar, but if push I would take it down to two:
Of the pales you had Allgates Half-Devil – a wonderfully light and refreshing brew, drinks like a pale ale but I was able to sell quite a few to punters who wanted some “like a lager”.
All the dark beers were excellent (myself & Jim share similar tastes that way) but the best one and my favourite of the festival does go to the Raven King from Five Towns. A wonderful and rich coffee porter, dangerously drinkable, plus the brewer told me the secret to the brew (no not love, a perfectly normal and edible one) – hmmm, it makes you think.
Most customers and many of the volunteers, either by design or misfortune, almost reduced Jim to tears a few times with the compliments he was being showered with.
The tears were in full effect when he was surprised with a reward for all his hard work – you will never see a beer blogger of such esteem run AWAY from a bar quite a quickly as Jim managed at that moment.
Everyone leaving said they had a great time, that it should happen again next year; some wanted it twice a year.
It will happen again next year.
More than likely it may well be a permanent fixture to the beer calendar of Manchester.
So it only remains for me to thank the brewers, the punters, the band, the volunteers, the staff at St. Sebastian’s, Gerry and of course Jim.
See you in 2015.
With that I’m off to continue writing the other parts of my review of Indy Man Beer Con 2014, an equally as good but very different festival – to state the obvious.
*with apologise to all others.
**Unless you over look the Salford Red Devils Beer Festival of 2013 – which, much like the rugby league team, most people did.