To you it may be taboo

I’m afraid I won’t be going to the Independent Manchester Beer Convention. Or rather, I didn’t go (it was this weekend). Having missed the first one last yearthe first two (h/t Tyson in comments – time flies eh?), I wrote off this year’s IMBC when ‘sold out’ messages started appearing, several months in advance of the event itself. However, not all the advance tickets got used – as is bound to happen when tickets go on sale with a lot of time to spare – and a few were being touted around on Twitter as late as Friday.

So I did have the choice whether or not to go, and in the end I chose not.


  1. Lots of interesting beers from cutting-edge brewers.
  2. The food sounded pretty good too.
  3. And it was in Victoria Baths, which would be unusual if nothing else.
  4. So, really, whatever the beer was like, it would have been an interesting experience and made a good blog post (as long as I hadn’t got too drunk to remember anything).
  5. (Even if I didn’t much enjoy it, it would have been an interesting experience.)


  1. It was £13 to get in. For that (according to the Website) you got a glass, a programme and er. Making it approximately £10 dearer than most CAMRA beer festivals.
  2. If last year was anything to go by, the beer would have been fairly pricey, too.
  3. Not to mention the food.
  4. More to the point, about 3/4 of the beer (at least, for the session I checked) was keg.
  5. I didn’t want to go and then spend the evening roaming the halls disconsolately looking for cask beers that (a) were on (b) looked interesting and (c) I hadn’t had.
  6. Nor did I want to spend it trying keg beers and hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed. Because I do keep trying them and I do keep being disappointed – not every time, but definitely most times.
  7. And I certainly didn’t want to be the old bloke leaning accusingly on the Magic Rock bar and saying “Got any real ale, young man? No? Aye, well, think on.”
  8. In terms of interesting experiences, the last three possibilities wouldn’t have been very interesting – and “man who doesn’t like craft keg tries craft keg, doesn’t like it” doesn’t make a very good blog post.
  9. I know, I’ve written it.
  10. More than once.
  11. Most importantly, and setting aside any consideration of beard length –
  12. (May I point out at this point that I’ve recently gone clean-shaven myself, and am confident this will be the next trend. At least, I hope it is. I cannot be doing with those Iain-from-Bake Off full beards that the real hipsters seem to be sporting these days.
  13. I saw a little short bearded guy unlocking his bike from the railing of a bar down the road the other week – 5′ 4″ at most, long shorts, full beard. Not many things make me stare, but I could not stop staring at that guy. I think my subconscious must have taken him for a gnome.)
  14. Anyway, the point is that there’s a selection effect here. An event like IMBC, with lots of fanfare about its general awesomeness and cutting-edge-icity, will attract a lot of people who like the idea of going to an awesome cutting-edge event. (And I’m willing to bet that a lot of them will have full beards, but that’s not important right now.)
  15. And an event with what I imagine to be expensive beer and food, and what I know to be expensive admission tickets, will attract people who don’t mind paying a lot for their beer festival experience.
  16. Also, and most obviously, an event where 3/4 of the beer is keg will attract people who (at the very least) don’t mind that.
  17. In short, if I had gone I strongly suspect I would have been surrounded by well-heeled trend-following keg-drinkers.
  18. I’ve got nothing against well-heeled trend-following keg-drinkers, but they are not my people.
  19. (I mean, the guy with the ponytail and the Hobgoblin shirt drinking a pint of Old Tom from his own pewter tankard isn’t exactly my soul-mate, but I’d much, much rather be surrounded by people like that. Really much rather.)
  20. Also, the festival glass is a third of a pint. And serving bitter in thirds is just wrong.

So that’s five reasons in favour, twenty reasons against. The result was a foregone conclusion. To me the IMBC is – still – something to say ta-ta to.

(H/t John Hegley.)



  1. Posted 14 October, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink | Reply

    Some fair points there. One quick correction; this year was the third, not second, event. Certainly pricing is an issue and the bubble may have burst there as demand was down this year. It really doesn’t matter if £13 is justifiable. A lot of people won’t or simply can’t afford to pay that just for entry. On the cask side of things, at the first event cask had its own bar which might have been better in some ways.

    • Phil
      Posted 14 October, 2014 at 8:10 am | Permalink | Reply

      Was demand down? Tickets certainly sold out – fairly soon after they went on sale as I remember.

  2. Posted 14 October, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink | Reply

    Not for all sessions this year. There was a big promotional blitz in the last few days and there were walk ins available for the Sunday. Ironically organisation was better than ever this year and the best beers I had were actually cask

  3. Posted 14 October, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Interesting post. I must admit events like this don’t get me excited, though I really must get round to going to one of them to see what they’re like. Beer festivals are social events for me so if all my mates were going I’d probably feel differently.

  4. Deeekos
    Posted 15 October, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Giving away the cask beer during the last hour on the Sunday…

    • Posted 15 October, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I suspect that was becuase when the bar was busy people couldn’t see the hand pumps abut could see the chalkboards so made their choice on what they thought was on the bar. The cask had pretty much a big post-it note telling you what was on.

    • Phil
      Posted 15 October, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

      What a waste! Handpumps don’t advertise themselves – least of all when they’re heavily outnumbered by keg fonts which are advertised. Bad planning there.

  5. Posted 15 October, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    1. The ticket price covers the overheads for a festival they is much more expensive to put on than a local CAMRA festival. As a member of my local CAMRA festival comity I understand the costs of putting on a festival. You’d need to see a breakdown of their finances for the festival to understand what they spent money on before making such a statement.
    2. Yes some beers are expensive but if you want something imported or a bit snazzy then you have to pay a premium. There were lots of beers at 1-1.5 tokens
    3. I had something to eat before and after the festival, its your choice to spend money on good quality food.
    4. So? That still leaves lots of great quality cask ale to drink, more than enough for a single session.
    5. Roaming around the venue is part of the fun. Each of the three main rooms had cask beer.
    6. Why are you being disappointed?
    7. What on earth is “Real Ale” is as much a stupid marketing term as “Craft Beer” if you like cask ale for a certain reason and for other reason find something about kegged beer a problem stick to cask but apart from the temperature I cannot see much of a difference. Correctly made and served cask ale shouldn’t be warm or flat.
    8. Yeah “ignorant cask ale drinker spouts off about this blinkered view of progressive brewing and fear of anything new” made a much better blog.
    9. At least you are aware of that.
    10. Fair enough
    11. So is every CAMRA festival full of fat, smelly, moaning old men with socks and sandals? I do think they are?
    12. Get over the beard thing, it makes you sound like a tit.
    13. Really, this attitude doesn’t serve you very well.
    14. So who really are these people? Most people I know aren’t these ridiculous steriotypes you keep mentioning, I’m certainly not. You shouldn’t be intimidated by going somewhere where you might not be like everyone else. From my experience CAMRA is very isolating and kliqy. If anyone says anything different its met with grumbles and other guttural noises of dismissal.
    15. So are CAMRA festivals full of cheap-arses only wanting cheap beer made by breweries with low standards?
    16. I know lost of people who drink and enjoy both cask and keg beer, why has one more merit than the other?
    17. Some are trend followers, true. But some are people who just enjoy great beer whatever form is comes in. They may have a university education, be clean, not smell. So doesn’t that mean everyone at a CAMRA festival is a tight-arsed, smelly moron? No.
    18. Yeah I do like pompous trendy posers but most of the people I’ve met through beer are lovely folk weather they drink cask and or keg are young or old. Why make such presumptions?
    19. Fair enough but he might be as much a twat as the bloke with the skinny jeans, beard and sculpted side parting.
    20. The festival is more about tasting interesting beer not swilling pint after pint of insipid warm, badly-kept dross. There are loads of other festivals that cater for that so why not try something different.

    I’m 37, drink cask and keg am a active member of my local CAMRA branch, am on my local CAMRA beer festival comity, have been writing a blog for about 6 years and have judged for both SIBA and CAMRA. I wear normal jeans, have short hair, cleanly shaven and go to both GBBF and Indy Man each year and enjoy them both.

    • Phil
      Posted 15 October, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m mocking myself, dude. Join the queue.

      • Posted 15 October, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Self mocking or not, how dare you not want to go to a beer festival he went to!

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