Indy Beer Man Con has confirmed that it will return in 2017, with its trademark collection of some of the world’s most creative brewers. Fresh from its fourth successful outing, the organisers – the team behind three of Manchester's most craft-y beer bars, Common, Port St Beer House, and The Beagle – led by Jonny Heyes will be deciding on the dates while the venue remains fixed, the historic, Grade II*-listed Victoria Baths.
Some of Britain's newest breweries, including Lost & Grounded, Chorlton and Cloudwater, joined dozens of others, plus 10 from overseas, including To-Øl, Lervig and Warpigs.
The Friday trade session proved a sell-out, as were all others bar the initial Thursday session, 'an improvement on 2015,' according to Common's Seb Mariner.
Sours, IPAs, collaborations and eclectic ingredients were the dominant trends. Among our highlights were the refreshing range from North Brewing Co, the recently opened microbrewery from the guys behind Leeds' mould-breaking North Bar. Alongside a classic, creamy, Kolsch-style Herzog (5%), our two favourites were the exuberant Transmission, a true West Coast IPA, and Full Fathom 5, a coconut and coffee porter (6.5%).
Continuing to derive inspiration from Germanic styles, Chorlton Brewery showcased the Germanic serve of adding schuss, a shot of fruit syrup, to sour beer. We sampled Yorkshire Foragers' Wild Chuckleberry with Chorlton's Märzen Weisse (5.4%).
Track is another new Manchester brewery, led by Sam Dyson. Beers are inspired from his three-year, round the world brewing tour. Looking back to Dyson’s Californian time, we enjoyed his Mojave Pale Rye (4.3%).
Highlights from the king of collaboration, Norway's Lervig, included a peerless kettle sour mash-up with Redchurch, Softly Softly, (6.6%), and the zesty Lucky Jack Grapefruit Edition, American Pale Ale (4.7%). (Lervig is available from Cave Direct.)
Atom Brewing, from Hull, shared a few specials, including Phobos & Deimos (7%), a rye IPA or RIPA, where sweet pine meets juicy fruit, plus the glorious, Neutron Star, a 12.6% Imperial Stout with plenty of vanilla and coffee mousse notes.
On the cider front, new brand Pulp Craft Cider joined Thistly Cross and Hogans. Pulp is the brainchild of The Real Cider Co, the guys who created Bramley Swiggins Cider with Sandford Orchards. Our tip from Pulp's fruit range is the Rhubarb (4%), with a real fruit seam and lovely apple tannins.
indymanbeercon.co.uk; contact breweries for UK distribution, unless specified