I’ve been itching to write up my feelings from Indyman, just struggled to find the time. However, for me Indyman was the most complete beer festival experience I’ve ever had. It’s difficult to put your finger on just why that is. Undoubtedly the venue is as interesting a building as you could ever wish an event to take place in, but that doesn’t define the event. You’d struggle to get as many top quality breweries in one place in the UK, with all the fantastic beers both experimental and the best of the UK’s craft beers, but even that doesn’t define the event for me. I think looking back, I was flicking through the photos that I took and surprisingly there are very few photos of beers in there, but loads of photos of people. It’s the people who define it best. There’s a widespread passion for good beer and a collective respect for the ability of good beer to bring good people together. Stepping back from Indyman for a moment, it was the social aspect that got me drinking in the first place and no matter how some may feel that craft beer can at least appear elitist, I still think that social aspect is the very core of the industry.
I travelled half way across the country to a venue I’d never set foot in before, with no concrete plans to meet anyone, just very much a ‘see you there’ plan. Yet when I set foot through the door, collected my Craft master 1, I stepped into the foyer and Steve from the Beer O’Clock show appeared. He dragged me (ok maybe not kicking and screaming) off to the Buxton bar for a Wyoming Sheep Ranch and the great many other beers that followed were all fantastic. Am I being blasé if I say you can almost take for granted that the beers are amazing? It would be wrong to brush that fact off too lightly, the quality on display is impeccable. If I’m critical I would have liked to see more IPA’s and fewer sours, but I certainly didn’t go thirsty.
Beer highlights include, Buxton Yellow Belly on cask, Magic Rock Bearded Lady desert edition, Burning Sky Vatted Porter, Almasty Cherry Imp Stout, Beavertown BA Moose Fang, think you can see a theme forming here, a lot of high abv’s were had….. But two factors prevent me properly reviewing these beers, clearly my palette took a hammering so specific recollections of certain beers may be alittle frayed at the edges, but also I didn’t really take the time to stop and analyse each beer. I was far too busy actually talking to the array of diverse and interesting people that attended.
Representing the north east were Mark from Almasty brewery (assisted by some bloke from the Free Trade Inn…) with five corking beers on the Thursday and Friday and Saturday saw the Wylam lads arrive with the mighty Jakehead amongst others. I had many people asking me about Jakehead and not a single man was disappointed when they got the chance to try it.
I can’t reiterate enough just how much of a convention this is. It’s so much more than a beer festival, the people make it, from the enthusiastic volunteer army, to the passionate brewers, to the mass throng of jovial but well behaved attendees. I spent so much of my time there talking to people I’d never before met, that’s the thing I’ll take away from the event. And I very much intend being back there next year!