#ISBF5 Collab Brewday No 1 - Five Towns & Beer Central


The first brewer to contact me when I agreed to do a beer festival.

Winner of Beer of the Festival 3 times out of 4.

Referred to as “your mate” by some.

That’s Malcolm Bastow of Five Towns Brewery of Wakefield. A good man. Who happens to brew exceptional beer.

And someone I consider a friend. Someone without whom this event would be more difficult. Someone who has helped me in more ways than I can begin to say.

But all that would count for nothing if his beer was ordinary. Which it certainly isn’t.

I’ve been lucky. Lucky in that I’ve gotten to brew twice at each of the last 3 festivals in that little shed at the bottom of the garden. It’s always fun. It’s always interesting. And has resulted in 2 Beer of the Festival winners in Art Decade & last year’s winner “Always Crashing In The Same Car”.


Brewing with Malcolm is an ISBF tradition. Which is why I left home at 4:45 this morning. To be in Wakefield for 6am. Yes, there IS another 6 in the day....

Like several of the beers we’ve brewed with Malcolm, the name came first.


We’re both Bowie fans and so is Jock (who’s coming to brew in Wakefield next weekend. Jock – I discovered at #ISBF4 – has a favourite Bowie tune which is actually a segue of 3. From the classic Diamond Dogs album. Sweet Thing, Candidate, Sweet Thing (Reprise). With 2 of the beers being collabed on with Malcolm featuring fruit, this one HAD to be Candidate.


So. At 4:45am (yes, there IS another 4:45 on a Sunday), I was on the road.

To Wakefield. And a certain shed.

When it comes to beer, my heart is dark. And increasingly big. So when Malcolm revealed his thoughts to me and our Co – Conspirator (Sean Clarke of Sheffield’s mighty atom of a beer shop “Beer Central “) his thoughts, I was delighted.

Big. Roasty. And breakfasty.


A double mash in, meant a 6am start. And – after a Billy Bragg gig the night before.........

First mash smelt delicious. All the inherent aromas of Roasted Barley, coffee, chocolate porridge. One of my favourite smells. And dark. As dark as Vladimir Putin’s heart. But much tastier. (Which predictive text initially had as Tsarier.....)


That was run off to the copper, tun dug it was time for mash two. Ordinarily, with a big beer, a single mash on Malcolm’s small (2 ½ barrel) kit would only give up about 5 casks. But this brew was also to celebrate 5 years of Beer Central. And Sean wants a lot of bottles to mark that. So it needed more beer.

So. What have we made? Well. A big Breakfast Stout. Oatmeal, Coffee, Milky (lactose) and fruity with lots of pureed blueberries going in to the fermenter. It’s gonna be like a liquidised fruity black porridge. And it’s likely to come out at about 9% abv

Come get some! The few remaining tickets can be found here

Tomorrow? Another early start. Off to Peterborough. And some liquid lunacy. With Steve Saldana at Bexar County. A special day for me. Those that know, know.

"It's Beer Jim, But Not As We Know It!"


OK. So I was listening to “Star Trekking” by The Firm. Bite me!


Tempus Fugit and all that and here at The ISBF Institute of Beery Pleasures we’re about to embark on our annual COLLAB FRENZY! You shall hear ALL about it tomorrow evening.

However, this one is special as it is the first leg of the ISBF Wakefield Trilogy (It’s like “The Berlin Trilogy” But Diamond Dogs themed. And beery.) Our Bowie themed series of beers with last year’s Beer of the Festival winner (AND 2014 & 2015!), Five Towns. I love getting up at 4:30 in the morning! But it’s for you lot. So I do it with a song in my heart!

Anyway, given the Cavalcade of Collabs that will be reported upon, this may be the last “leak post” for some time. But it’s a good un. As I now know a few more of the beers that are a comin’. And as I couldn’t hold water – never mind secrets.....


The Final line on the North West side on cask was confirmed last week. But I kept mi gob shut. Even though I was bursting to tell you about it!

Those who came to ISBF4 may remember that we had the first keg anywhere of the Runaway / GRUB collab “Lemon Drizzle IPA”. A beer that – months later – people were tweeting ME about. Asking if was ever coming back. Or “where can I get that... “etc. It WAS bloody fabulous to be fair. But no. We’re not getting that back. It would break the “Prime Directive”. But again, Mark (Runaway) and GRUB are Collabing. This year, it’s a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. And both Mark & Bailey generously agreed to stick 40 litres (or 72 pints in pre decimal) into a cask.

Just one. And we get it. Let that sink in......I’ve got a feeling this may rival the De Ranke XXX in vanishing swiftly! Permission to drool is hereby granted.

And you could drink it in one of these…..


The Final cask line on the Yorkshire side was confirmed this week too. Nick Briggs of Mallinsons finding some time to brew under his own imprint of Briggs Signature Ales. Expect something punchy and hoppy. And VERY sessionable!

Those lovely fellas at Twisted Barrel of Coventry confirmed their beer yesterday.... “Behold A Pale Horse” is a Dry Hopped Belgian Tripel coming in at a judicious 9% abv. And there’s only 20L of it. So please form an orderly queue!

And, you could drink it in one of these…..


The mighty Wishbone of Keighley have pulled off a pre-Xmas cracker for us too! A rare pin of their Imperial Stout has been nestling cozily in their store. Snoozing. And, I’m informed by no less than Chris from Torrside, that it is utterly lush. If you ever needed a recommendation .......!

This year, we also have our first beer at ISBF from Vocation! Now, you KNOW the way my mind works. Especially with the “early agreed” beers. So, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that it’s BIG. And IMPERIAL. And STOUTY. And the only place you get to try this in CASK, in the Manchester area, is here. At Hemsley House. And we’re delighted.

On a slightly lighter tip, the lovely – and ever so talented – Dave at Macc Brew Co has got us sorted a delicious Yuzu & Sorachi Pale. (Cask maven Linda will be popping next door to the #EvilKegFilth room for her Sorachi fix!)


Tickets. Amazingly, we have less than 30 TICKETS AVAILABLE for Saturday evening! Yes. That’s the MAGNIFICENT closing session with the mighty George Fell blissing you out with guitar genius! You. Have. Been. Warned.

We’ve had 4 returns for Friday lunch too. They’re available now. But won’t be there for long.

Thursday evening. The one evening that you’re GUARANTEED a chance to taste ANY of the beers. There are now less than 60 tickets for that too. #ThirstChanceThursday is a thing.

Tickets available here. Don’t hang about.

So. Back tomorrow. With the first collab report. Candidate. With Five Towns and Beer Central of Sheffield. I want a case reserving already!

More Than A Feeling - Pt 2


Hello again.

This event, The Independent Salford Beer Festival has – over a period of years – almost subconsciously, absorbed lessons from other events (beer or otherwise). Taking the best bits as it were. Yet some things are shared values. Respect and decency being key. This event has been built on friendships, something that had been commented on previously. Repeatedly. Yes, I’m boring like that...

Something at Indy Man this week stood out. Not the beer or anything like that. It was a notice. About treating people with respect. The intention of that hit the mark.

We, by accident or design (more likely by accident), have had no incidents or issues – none that you would notice anyways. There is no written constitution. No list of “do’s”. No list of “don’ts”. I say It’s not written, because it’s never needed to be. Just play nice.

Or in the words of Ellen DeGeneres’ sign off to each show (which I’ve appropriated), “Be Kind To One Another”.

This event is about fun, talking with friends, meeting new ones. Beer is a conversational lubricant, not the end itself.

If I have one major fault. I’m intolerant of intolerance. And that’s no major fault in my eyes.

Like the lady says “Be kind to one another”.


Collabs info #3

Our first collab is actually next week. With Mallinsons. Their first Lager. Can’t wait!

Then? 4 collabs in 4 days. FOUR. I’m obviously some elevated kind of idiot.

Sunday 21st : Wakefield. And a rather large Breakfast Stout with Five Towns and Sheffield’s mighty outlet Beer Central.

Monday 22nd : Peterborough. And the Texan Alchemist Steve Saldana at Bexar County with Michelle Shipman reawakening Offbeat. Madness awaits......

Tuesday 23rd : Stockport. And our beloved Thirst Class with a deliciously different sounding Blackcurrant & Licorice Pale. Got my juices flowing at least!

Wednesday 24th : Wakefield again. And an Imperial Fruited Milkshake IPA with Five Towns in Collab with Lancashire flavour upstarts Rivington.

I’m feeling shattered already! And you will hear about those brewdays here.

I may burn my holidays entitlement on this event. And these brewdays. But I do enjoy it. Just a little bit.


That “special” cask..... Like I’ve said, if an opportunity arises for something “different”, I’ll always think about it at least. I’d heard of an opportunity last year and - when I’d decided to DO #ISBF5 - thought I’d give it a go. A brewery sending casks over the water. And getting backfills. I started to get excited, but - being a “glass half-full” type - didn’t think it would happen.

But it has. So, having had a “North only” policy, I decided to break it. But not for something South of Crewe. We headed East. Across the North Sea. To Belgium. And De Ranke and their XXX. In cask. I’m fairly sure it fits the criteria of “1st time in Manchester”!

And it won’t last long.

For now, that is all. Collab frenzy starts next week. This spring is coiled.

Tickets available here. For now. Snoozing is Losing.

More Than A Feeling


From the moment that I started to receive replies to my initial tweet in 2014 (about “agreeing” to “do” a beer festival), this event has ALWAYS been about the feeling. That’s been paramount for me.

 The beer – whilst excellent, and the initial driver – has been a secondary consideration. Please don’t let me be misunderstood (I’m just a soul who’s intentions are good…..), I know that the beers are good, I pick great breweries, so that’s a given, but it’s always been that indefinable “feeling” that had brought people back, year after year.

I will never forget meeting Carl (now brewing at Twisted Barrel) and being amazed that someone came all the way from Coventry! Later, I learned about George coming along from Aberdeen to kill some time the weekend of a big gig. He’s come back every year since. As has Carl. As does Mike from Brighton. That fills me with..... . It is something that we – the wider ISBF “family” are incredibly proud of. And that wider family of friends (for, after 5 years, that’s what we are) have been the heartbeat of the event for this entire time. The cast may have changed at the fringes slightly – year on year – but the core remains. And are now firm friends.

Friendships have started in the draughty Community Centre. In fact – after some important family stuff later, I may be seeing a group of friends who had never met each other before year one. And ALL met at St Sebastian’s.


That “feeling” comes from the people. Those both volunteering and attending. They make an event. But it’s also about being “comfortable”, “relaxed”. Being able to sit if you want. Stand if you want. Have personal space. These things are also important. They’ve also been there from the start. And they remain.

It’s why I’ve limited ticketing to an absolute maximum of 275. When there’s space for many more. This isn’t hype generation, it’s about keeping that sense of space to breathe. That “275” applies on Friday evening to the end on Saturday. On Thursday evening and Friday afternoon they’re even more restricted – to help us deal with teething issues. They’re the (even more) comfortable sessions. Always a pleasure.

To me, this things above are the things that are paramount. That the beer will be excellent is a given.


Speaking of which – there are one or two more collabs and beer details to leak..... Firstly.....

I’ve alluded to a “special” cask. Something that’s not “Northern”. In person, I’ve mentioned that it’s from “further East than Scarborough..... “. At this moment, there is a clean empty cask. Sat in a certain Belgian brewery. Awaiting filing. A cask. I don’t think it will last long. If an opportunity arises.... And that’s what this was. An opportunity just TOO good to pass up.

In the planning stages, we have a collab with one of my favourite breweries (Neptune) and one of my favourite beer styles (an American Brown Ale). Watching Neptune grow and spread out, gaining an ever growing reputation for flavour, quality and consistently has been a joy. And Les (and the lovely Julie) were there in Year 1. On the Saturday afternoon. Before he was brewing. Just like Carl (who they were sat with – I never forget stuff like that!)

For very personal reasons, that brewday matters hugely to me. And will be an intensely emotional day. And one I’m looking forward to hugely.


Likewise, another emotional brewday is in the planning with the Texan alchemist Steve Saldana at Bexar County and Offbeat. One that was originally slated for 28/09/2016. The creator of the Kombucha Soured Milk Neapolitan Ale that tasted like the layers of Neapolitan ice cream. Truly, it did! I have no idea what’s planned at the moment. But it won’t be a 4% Stout hopped with fuggles. I’m fairly sure of THAT.

We’ve got Session pales planned with Pictish and Blue Bee. Doing what they excel at.

The beer details are starting to come in on a dripfeed. And I’ll keep posting them for you here. So you can drool.


Re ticketing. You may now be aware that BOTH Friday evening and Saturday lunch sessions are now SOLD OUT. That’s incredibly flattering and quite comforting – given the volume of beer we’re committed to! They were sessions pitched at 275 capacity (with some tickets retained for sponsors). Thursday evening and Friday lunch are even more restricted with only 175 as a limit. Saturday evening is at 275. Tickets have started to sell well for that one now – the music is going to be ACE that night too.

If you want to sponsor a beer, It’s £60. You get two tickets to the session of choice (subject to availability), £10 tokens and two glasses. And our immense gratitude (both in programme and in the Web) You also get to pick the brewery you sponsor (again, subject to availability). The link for that is here.

Tickets – as said above – are now quite limited and are available via this link.

And remember. ALL profits from this event go to charity. This year, Start in Salford. A more than worthwhile cause.

Come and join us. While you still can.

Be kind to one another.

Jim x

#ISBF5 : Collaborations Pt 1 (And more Breweries!)

We’re BACK!


Hello again! To what – if this carries on – will become a weekly update.

Since year 2, one of the things that has been most commented upon about this event is the number of collaboration brews we get involved with. Directly or otherwise. It’s an absolute given that the month before the event is busy. Very busy.

#ISBF5 is different. It’s going to be busier. Much busier. At one point, I had brewdays scheduled on 4 consecutive days. FIVE brewdays on FOUR consecutive days.

Like I said. Busier.

Some of these brewdays have now been inked in to schedules. And I’m getting slightly tingly (maybe that’s the blood pressure spiking.....)


The fun starts 21st October. At the home of 3x Beer of the Festival winner. Five Towns. And this first brew will be a collaboration with Sean from Sheffield’s marvellous Beer Central beer emporium. Malcolm’s exotica tends to fly out almost before it hits the shelves. And this beer promises to be no different.

Candidate” promises to be a rather big Breakfast Stout. Full of rich, creamy, roasty goodness. Coffee, oats....... Malcolm’s “Blackout” Stout has entered local legend (“The Stoutiest Stout ever”was one comment!) This promises to be special. And anyone who knows Malcolm, knows that he’s an enormous Bowie fan. So keep “Candidate” in mind. There’s a Bowie trilogy coming...

Next comes 2 days later, with a more local brewday, with Stockport’s fabulous Thirst Class.

I’m an unashamed fanboy of the beery output of Richard Conway and his North Reddish kit. In fact – a little known fact – my favourite ISBF collab – was brewed by Richard (in collab with Stuart Neilson of North Riding Brewery) “War of the Raspberries” was a turbo charged version of Richard’s own Stocky Oatmeal Stout, with an addition of 18kg of Yorkshire raspberries. In both keg and cask it was stunning. And then I had a bottle almost 18 months later. It was ASTONISHINGLY good.

I have absolutely no idea what Richard is thinking with this beer, but I can’t WAIT to start digging.

The NEXT DAY, sees a return to Five Towns. This time with a collab planned 6 months earlier. With Rivington. The return leg of a brewday we had for East West Fest last April. “Citra Ra Ra... “ was a murky juicebomb of a DIPA. Stunning in cask at The Red Shed. To top it would be difficult. But Ben & Malcolm love a challenge.

Sweet Thing (Reprise)” (Bowie fans. Do you see where this is going?) will be an Imperial Fruited Milkshake IPA (Permission to smack your lips is granted!)

Three Days later, we’re (With Bowie nerd Jock!) back at Five Towns for the second #ISBF5 / Five Towns collab (It’s written into the ISBF Founding Charter!). “Sweet Thing” is going to be a Melon infused hoppy Pale hopped with Huell Melon hops.

And...... Relax? No.

 Don’t be alarmed. The ABVs are purely for illustration!

Don’t be alarmed. The ABVs are purely for illustration!

The next day, I catch a train to Scarbados. For..... Something a bit different.

A 4 handed double brewday collab. WHAT? OK. Let me try to explain.

North Riding Brewery. Elusive Brewing. Five Towns. And #ISBF5 (in the svelte forms of YT and the #EvilKegFilth Overlord, Chris) Two simultaneous brews. One at North Riding Brewery. One at The North Riding Brewpub. One of the beers *could* be an India Porter. Hopped with my “catnip de jour” Centennial (and Columbus). I’m an unabashed North Riding fanboy. My favourite cask beer of 2018 was a US Session drunk in the Brewpub during a rather special collab brewday in April. It was – quite simply – ASTONISHINGLY good. I’ve had some good beer this year, but that just rocked my world.

 That very beer!

That very beer!

And think about it. My favourite cask brewery (North Riding) combined with the only two breweries to win beer of the Festival at ISBF? All bets are off on this year’s winner! Maybe.....

Maybe? Because there are 95 beers from some of the best breweries in the UK. Coming to Hemsley House at the end of November. And - now confirmed in that list are Nottingham stars Neon Raptor & Liquid Light! And from Portrush on the North coast of Northern Ireland, we have Lacada!

if you love beer and haven’t got a ticket, why the hell not?

If so, click this link. And spoil yourself. You won’t regret it! (I keep my promises)

More teasing next week?

Let The Music Play - And Other News

Hello again!

Here at #ISBF5 we’ve been beavering away in the background, trying to get you treats, both beery and non-beery in nature. This probably won’t stop until Wednesday 28th November. That has always been the nature of this event. Kind of a Salfordian take on “lastminute.com”. Personally, I (Jim) like to think that this amateurism adds to the charm of this event. But remember, I know nothing, Other than a lot of good people. Who do good things. And help.


Those who know me, know that – as improbable as it may seem – I love music MUCH more than beer. It’s true. From my first live band in October xxxx (The Damned), to my second in April xxxx (Joy Division) and onwards, music has been the thing. It can take you places that few other things can. It certainly does for me. Life would be so much poorer without great music.

We started (in 2014) with a single band. A group of young men who called themselves “Duke and the Darlings” on the Saturday night session. They played a lovely set. Then the session started to calm down as people drifted away from St Sebastian’s towards home. The band sat in what was then the only room. They sat around the table and just jammed. For the fun of it. It was a truly precious moment. And something I’ll never forget.


Duke and the Darlings played each of the first four years. Became part of the DNA of this event. Unfortunately, they won’t be with us this year. But Alex Reed, frontman, vocalist and local music promoter offered to make some calls and bring some fabulous live music. Music that would fit this glorious venue that is Hemsley House.

In my humble opinion, he’s done just that.

On the Friday evening session, we have a ”musician” (a word that doesn’t quite do him justice) called Zacc Rogers. If you’ve seen Zacc play, I think you’ll understand.

I quote “Zacc Rogers performs using the latest looping technology to create a sound scape which includes beat boxing, harmonica and guitar.  All this is done live in front of the audience (no prerecording).”

Kind of in a nutshell. And I’m really excited. Friday evening session (which is almost sold out!) is in for a rare treat – with Zacc playing two sets.


Saturday evening will see another artist/musician we haven’t hosted at St Sebastian’s. Elly Grice. An artist blessed with a fabulous voice. Alex’s word is enough for me. But I had a listen anyway. Oh yes. Listen / see for yourself here.

Saturday evening also sees the return of George Fell. At the risk of sounding like a fan boy, I’ll stop there. But those two evening sessions are going to be something special – and the vast majority of the beers will still be available on that Saturday evening session (no James, Lee, Steve, THAT’S NOT a challenge!)

When you also add on Mike & Jo and their “Rebellious Jukebox” (where you get the chance to affect the playlists!). They are both dear friends with exquisite taste. And the tunes will move……Like I said, I love music. And I’m genuinely excited by what’s coming up. With BIG thanks to Alex, Mike & Jo.


Going back to the beer....

 We have some additions to that rather lovely brewery list...

On keg, we’d like to say HELLO to Double Barrelled of Reading! I’ve heard some really good stuff from people I respect (and some of the beer that I’ve seen makes me DROOL) about this team and word is that they may not have even had a draught beer in Manchester yet? I keep repeating the phrase “genuinely excited”! But I don’t say things lightly. Can’t wait.

Returning again this year (except this time, on keg) are Cwrw Ial. With a Pilsner. Doug has been brewing in the remotest of remote locations (OK. Llanarmon-yn-Ial isn’t THAT remote. But it IS a drive!) and I’ve always been massively attracted to the community focus of this enterprise. The fact that Doug makes excellent beer is a bonus.

With an increased amount of beer on the #EvilKegFilth bar, I’m ultra keen to get more depth within styles. We’ve been far to heavy - in more ways than….. - in certain styles in the past. And I want to simultaneously broaden and deepen the range of styles and locations represented. With greater representation from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. And more sours, saisons, pilsners/lagers. Yes, the largest range will be of the “pale n ‘oppy” type. But I want something for everyone. From low abv Table Beers, to rich Imperial Stouts. And everything in between.

We’ve also got another new brewing venture coming to play. Distant Hills. There’s a certain level of mist around this. But I’m really looking forward to my first taste of their output. We might even get involved. Picturesque scenery may feature. And hops. Oh yes.

Being a rather rubbish multi-tasker, I’m trying to arrange collabs as I type. And travel details. There are some special things coming to Hemsley House. Musically, beerily, feel. It’s all about the feel.

And raising money for good causes. Always.

Come and join us. Saturday afternoon may be sold out. And Friday evening may not be far behind, but all other sessions have availability (with Thursday evening and Friday lunch deliberately limited). And remember, almost ALL the beers will be available come Saturday evening.

Click this link. Grab some tickets. And - by the simple method of drinking exceptional beer - help a good cause. You won’t regret it.