|Snap from IMBC 2012 - when my picture taking was particularly poor
The nights roll in and the wind turns colder to remind us that it is time for the most important beer event month on the calendar. Its time to willingly spend your weekend inside a grade-II listed bath house. The Independent Manchester Beer Convention enters its fifth year and continues its proud march to establish itself as the beer event's Glastonbury. Tickets are scarce and people are willing to travel.
As I've been every year I consider myself to be Indy Man's most valued patron (not yet verified by the organisers.) It seems everyone I know and love on social media has a ticket or has at least fought for one, so I have drawn up a quick guide in the form of a 'Dos and Don'ts' list for first time attendees and returning visitors alike. Follow this simple guide to make your Indy Man Beer Con 2016 the highlight of your year.
DO - eat a hearty breakfast in Manchester.
Don't waste your visit to the capital of... Greater Manchester by rolling out of bed and arriving in Chorlton-on-Medlock half an hour later. Eat at one of our fabulous breakfast locations to get the most from your day. Also, you need to line that stomach. Nobody wants to arrive at a beer festival with the immediate need to eat.
DON’T - complain about the queue.
We’ve all got tickets. The doors open at the set time. We’ll all get in the building. The idea that if the doors open at 11:30 EVERYBODY should have a drink in their hand by 11:31 is ludicrous. Take a can for the queue. And possibly a Boost…
DON’T - have some ridiculous beer order plan in your head.
You might think you’ve got it all planned out, online beer list in hand, and have your heart set on such-and-such a Gose or that brewery’s Session IPA as your first beer. But on arrival you then you have to go out of your way to find it. Just get in the building, grab a beer and settle in.
DO - drink whatever you want in whichever order.
Indy Man is neither a marathon nor a sprint. It’s more of a Sunday morning 5k – just go for it because it’ll be over before you know it. You might think you’re being sensible by building up to stronger beers but you’ll soon find there’s an hour of your session left, you’ve had none of the beers you actually wanted and now they’re sold out. Set out without concerning yourself for ABVs from the start.
DO - explore the building.
Yes, much of Indy Man’s incredible charm comes from the splendour of the Grade-II Victoria Baths. In some years we seem to have had access to the entire building which has been a real joy. Everyone is almost guaranteed to take a snap in the changing rooms lining the walls of two of the main rooms, but be sure to view the old entrance, the cellar and the Superintendent’s old flat too.
DON’T - set up camp on one of the main tables for the entire session.
“You get yours. I’ll hold the seats.” This is incredibly selfish. And wastes the location. Take the time to enjoy a beer in each room, by a bar, high in the rafters, in the cellar or outside. Don’t be a seat-hogging douche and miss out on the building too. That’s plain idiocy.
DO - take a picture of this fish mosaic.
Why? Because I have every year for some reason. I seem to reach a point of giddiness where it fascinates me each year and I’ll always find the fish on my camera time after time.
DO - take a shower.
That’s okay right? Yeah? Maybe not. No wonder he’s not coming this year.
DON’T - drunkenly agree to help out
on a bar and start an argument about a hotdog.
DO - say Hello to any Twitter beer people you haven’t introduced yourself to yet.
Some of y’all have, like, South Park characters and Powerpuff Girls as Avatars. You are a disguise to me. If people don’t know what you look like then you’re going to have to do the work yourselves.
DON’T - mention the prices if you already paid for a damn ticket.
I’ve already seen mention of the ticket prices from people who have still paid for them which is stupefyingly hilarious. They did also offer to refund anybody with a serious issue with the new token system. So if you do have one, but still went to the festival, nobody wants to listen to your attention-seeking worthlessness now.
DO - chat with the volunteers but let’s not hold up the bar
We still need to get served mate. Everybody loves a conversation or a fanboy moment, but not if there’s a queue forming.
DO - beware of them claiming they have “stopped serving” far too early.
Last orders seemed to be called 40 minutes before the end of some sessions. And there's a good chance you won't hear them being called. Be prepared. But...
DON’T - get angry at the “bouncers” at session end.
Truth be told the people trying to usher you out the door when the session has come to a close do come across a little unnecessarily aggressive, like all bouncers. But then trying to clear a multi-roomed large building of hundreds of half-cut enthusiastic geeks is probably quite difficult
DO - enjoy Manchester afterwards.
You’re not going to need a plan here. You might think that this is the moment now to take in some of Manchester’s better Beer bars, but a post Indy Man pub crawl is a poor idea. Trust me, I’ve spent the last two years dancing and drinking WKDs or some such nonsense in whatever bar I’ve crafted into post Indy Man and this is a much more appropriate wind-down. Falling about the place and talking far too loudly in Café Beermoth isn’t going to please anybody.
DO - read about all the previous years here.
You know... for research purposes.
Mostly let's all enjoy ourselves. Have that one moment of true appreciation - preferably when you're a bit tipsy - when you stop, look around at your friends and the building and realise that it's brilliant. I'll see you there