Now in its fourth year, Indy Man Beer Con has established itself as one of the most significant events in the beer calendar, showcasing the best of Britain's modern independent brewing scene. Beer Battered is counting down to this year's event by providing a new blog every day in the week leading up to it. The Indy Man Advent Calendar will provide a series of different perspectives on the festival, from an organiser, a punter, a volunteer, a Mancunian brewery, an overseas brewery, a veteran Indy Man brewery and a newcomer. Previous days: one (Claudia Asch, organiser), two (Mark Welsby, Runaway Brewery), three (Chris Dixon, volunteer), four (Adam Watson, Against the Grain), five (Todd Nicolson, New Zealand Craft Beer Collective), six (Steve Bentall, punter and blogger).
Today's blog, the final one in the series, features Buxton Brewery head brewer Colin Stronge.
Why do you think Indy Man has become one of the most talked-about events in the UK beer calendar?
I think it relates to their beginnings. They were really a breath of fresh air for the beer festival scene. When Europe was doing some spectacular festivals, the UK was really dragging it's heels and the vast majority of beer festivals here were still fairly characterless halls with warm, generally fairly poorly-managed beer.
Indy Man reached out to Europe and beyond, something that other beer festivals here often struggled to do with any success or real intent. The first IMBC was truly a kick up the ass for festivals on this island! Their embracing of some of the world's most innovative brewers really helped them establish themselves and continue to help them push new ground in the UK.
What have been your personal highlights from previous years?
The variety of spaces afforded by the venue is a real treat. You can always find a comfortable spot to suit any mood, or any beverage, due to the wonderful layout of the building.
What's your top tip for someone attending for the first time?
Don't spend too much time in any room! Make sure you see the variety of spaces available and enjoy a beer in each one.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Being there for the whole festival! The last couple of years I have had to come and go due to brewery commitments, so have never been free to immerse myself in the vibe fully and missed some brewers whom I'd have loved to meet and whose beers I would've loved to have tasted. This year I'll avoid that (hopefully).
From a brewer's perspective, which other brewers do you tend to look out for at Indy Man?
There are a lot of ace brewers at the festival every year. I'm always delighted to see To Øl beers as they are always mindblowing, with their variations of styles and big, bold flavours. But my favourite to see is nearly always Thornbridge. They provide great variety, a wide range of styles and rarely a grain of malt or leaf of hop out of place. Styles nailed hard!
What can we expect from Buxton at this year's event?
We'll have a wide variety of beers on, lots of our collaborations from this year, some specials we've held back especially and some new beers too. Hopefully a little something for everyone.
Heading into Indy Man, are you pleased with how the year has gone for Buxton?
It's always really humbling to be invited to these events and asked to showcase our beers. We've had a pretty mad year with expansion, staff changes, collaborations, etc. But we've managed to create some beers that I am really happy with and, thankfully, seem to have been really well received by you guys.
We're always trying to look for new styles and new combinations of flavours and we've managed a lot of that this year. That's one of the best parts of the job!
It's always great to work with other brewers, good fun and a chance to expand your knowledge around the brewhouse. We have been very lucky to work with some of the best in the world this year. I hope the beers we've made together have done them all justice.