Although I only managed to get to IndyMan for a scant few hours early on Friday, it confirmed my suspicion that it really is a must-do event on the beer calendar. The addition of Camden Brewery this year means that there really is something for everyone, from the casual drinker to the hardened geek. Only a controversy-baiting sourpuss would say otherwise. Sure, you won't be paying pub prices, but it's a temporary event in an amazing venue, and while some might say the beer was expensive, I'd point to the difference between price and value. It's a fantastic celebration of beer culture away from the mainstream.
I didn't get to try a huge variety of beer, but what I did try (Quantum Pale Ale, Wild Beer Co The Blend, Wiper & True Milk Shake, Cloudwater Motueka Lager and their IPA, Magic Rock High Wire) was all superb. A few tasters from other peoples' glasses of what might broadly be termed Weird Shit confirmed my suspicion that there are a lot of beers being brewed for the benefit of brewers rather than drinkers. Or rather, there is a continued obsession with novelty - what's new, rather than what's good. This, coupled with piss-poor quality control*, are the twin challenges that smaller independent brewers face.
But let's not dwell on the negative. Everything I saw at IndyMan this year was joyous. Happy people, great beer, amazing venue, and even the music wasn't too intrusive. The addition of a take-home canning service offered by We Can was a masterstroke - the next evening, I was drinking my take-outs at home, and my feelings were summed up by this response to my tweet:
*I was at a bar in Leeds recently, and after trying 3 indifferent local "craft" beers the wrong side of £4 a pint, I was asked what I wanted next, and my reply was "Whatever". I can't remember ever being so disinterested in a choice of beers before.