On Sunday morning, the social media network was awash with personnel describing their morning spent, sat in wellington boots, short-shorts and oversized sunglasses, constantly refreshing their screens in the hope of sealing a metaphorical golden ticket. Some announced their success later on; others were to spend the rest of their weekend lamenting missing out.
These kids and their FOMO.
Whilst the mad rush for Glastonbury tickets was beginning, I was pushing my better half’s cat off my chest, cricking my neck due to a night asleep on the sofa and searching for coffee amongst any memory of the previous night. The alacrity for “Glasto” tickets is alien to me. Overpriced. Overhyped. Oversubscribed. With similar events existing instead with more accessible tickets.
I poured coffee and was joined for a morning brew with a discerning scowl. As I pondered what drunken nonsense may have slipped from my mouth the previous evening to put me in trouble, I had to consider whether it had been a weekend well spent. Afterall I had spent the Friday and Saturday at the fifth Independent Manchester Beer Convention (IMBC16.)
I do not think it is flippent to – as I alluded to in my pre-festival post – refer to Indy Man Beer Con as my Glastonbury. That may be baulked at by regular music festival goers, but the truth is I have little interest in the muddy, expensive and unwashed field arenas of music festivals. Give me a host of beer, great food and better friends in an interesting building and I'm in my elysium. And Indy Man Beer Con is my annual pinnacle of such events.
But wait... Overpriced. Overhyped. Oversubscribed. With similar events existing instead with more accessible tickets. Doesn’t that sound like all the gripes people have with our great Manchester festival?
There we have it. There is the reason those people were desperately trying to get their Somerset field festival tickets on Sunday morning whilst I slowly died on the sofa. Everything that I don’t get about Glastonbury are all the qualities the attendees love. I can see the parallel now.
I had this year's realisation moment of Indy Man’s brilliance at quite an odd time during the Saturday afternoon session. I captured that moment in the below picture.
It was only around ten minutes after I’d said to my brother I probably wouldn’t write about this year’s festival as I had nothing to say. I was sat in this year’s new addition – the spacious outdoor tent that housed long trestle tables and a Wild Beer Co. Bar. I eulogised that I was enjoying the festival but there wasn’t anything for me to add to a discussion.
Then I left the tent via the back entrance to nip to the toilet in the portaloos. And I didn’t queue. I didn’t queue. I looked at the wristband on my person and thought about how they’d tackled the long queue time, condemned at last year's event, to gain entrance to the venue by scanning tickets whilst we were in the queue outside. I realised that this festival evolves each year, but also does everything it can to address the negative aspects from the previous years. I wrote last year that I knew they would tackle the queuing issue – and they did. They listen to the complaints rather than dismissing them.
I sat back in that additional tent clearly formed to provide a spacious and dry area for people to sit and enjoy their food. I thought about the much-discussed token system which definitely worked better. Anybody who says any different is looking for a grouse. I spent less but drank the same as previous years.
Without making a long list of my many highlights from this year, I want to mention how much I enjoyed the indoor food and drink tradespeople. The cheeseboards at Epicurie Ludo were wonderful. The food at Holy Crab delicious. During both sessions I attended I made use of a quick Piccolo at Idle Hands to keep myself going - and just because they’re as delicious as any beer I had.
I don’t follow social media whilst in Victoria Baths (apart from that mentioned at the end.) I’m too busy with, you know, social reality. I did hear, however, on that hungover Sunday that there had been a throng of complainants throughout the weekend. I’ve still not witnessed or heard any of it myself and I can’t fathom where they found umbrage. Perhaps they were upset, as was I, that the superintendent’s flat was closed after I encouraged them to visit it.
It is after a weekend when family and friends have had to witness me stopped and greeted every 5 yards like a returning war hero that I must consider my own bias. Overpriced? Overhyped? Oversubscribed? With similar events existing instead with more accessible tickets? Maybe for some but not for me. It remains the peak and highlight of my beer year and the organisers deserve great credit for continuing to improve it amongst intimidating increase in demand.
I couldn’t release a post without paying tribute to the many who took my advice to take a picture of a fish mosaic very literally. It seemed, especially on the Friday, there was somebody poised with a camera at it every time I passed. Below are just some from the pool that I found via being tagged or hashtag and I’m sure many more exist.
We are all Indy Man.