#ISBF5 - Wrap : Pt 1

#ISBF Poster Tickets.jpg

I have absolutely no idea where to start this post. The last week has been a combination of blur and surprises to me. But, I’ll give it a go.

People. People matter. Things, beer, don’t matter anywhere near as much. Not to me anyway, nor – if I’m any judge – to the rest of the ISBF Family. That extended (and growing) group that comes together every year. To smile and dispense both beer and joy. And that is something that I – as the presiding officer of this beery shambles – insist on. For them – the “family” (the word “volunteers” doesn’t do them justice) – to enjoy themselves. Because if you can’t have fun doing this.....

So Where was I? Ah yes. People.


This event was conceived in the back room of Gerry’s house. To help people. To raise money to do just that. And, each year, with a fortuitous combination of good beer, good people and a “winging it”  attitude towards “organisation”, we’ve done just that. This event Isn’t “slick”. It isn’t “professional”. What it IS, is “from the heart”. When I “drop the mic”, a whole bunch of people pick it up and sing their bloody hearts out. And I love these people. They know this. If they don’t, I’ve failed.

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Since I flipped the lid from a bottle of “Twisted Spire” by Hobsons in September 2011, then wrote some fumbling nonsense about it, I’ve been on a journey. And learned loads about who makes good beer. And that makes what I do with ISBF really simple. And when you do something like this, simplicity matters.

Another thing that helps hugely – and I frequently call my “superpower”, it’s the knowing of lots of people who know how to do the clever stuff. All that technical stuff that I can’t. Setup, design, dispense troubleshooting. Not to forget the brewing of simply fabulous beer. I owe them all. Hugely.


In terms of gratitude (and I owe a LOT), before the event, the following people are paramount

TLO, Mick, Phil – in all likelihood, they’ll never read this. But without their forbearance and tolerance, this event couldn’t have happened over each of the last five years.

Gerry – I blame her for everything. She made me do it, she’s difficult to say no to. She’s my extended family’s matriarch. Our rock. And this year, without her contacting the Mayor of Salford, this event would have ceased.

Andy Heggs – Words fail me.

Lee, Sam, Gaz at All Flow Dispense. That set up. And take down. Just heroes. And I don’t say that lightly.

Rob Hamilton & Team Black Jack – I simply can’t afford to thank them as much as they deserve. It’s no exaggeration to say that without their help and tolerance of my mithering and intrusion, this doesn’t happen. Ta.

Malcolm Bastow – Brewer. Friend. Again, words fail me. Except, “That Candidate....... “

Jeff – For willingly organising the volunteering (and all the ancillary bits)

Sherpa & Jaz – Without you two, I’d have been shipwrecked on the Wednesday and Thursday. Handballing 1200 glasses from a pallet in the pouring rain is no joke.

Linda & Chris – you know.

Jo & Mike – Tunes. “Shit Wifey” comments. Standing at a “gin bar” for hours. You know I love you both. See you soon at The Nook.

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Luckily, there’ll be a second post when I know how much we’ve raised and where our lovely sponsors will get their proper thanks.

That all said, it seemed to go alright. IF* this event ever happens again, there were several lessons learned. In order, they are.....

Slightly cheaper Saturday evening tickets. I really didn’t get how thirsty people would be. And the way those keg fonts were emptying so quickly gave me terrors! We started with 24 more keg beers than 2017. And they got drained. Without exception. Which leads to....

More keg. Especially at the lower abv “session” level. That volume was a close call. We do nearly ran out. Call it planning genius or accidental. But if all those with tickets on Saturday evening had turned up, we’d have run out by 9pm.

Less cask. But only a little. Because that almost all went too.

Controversially (for traditionalists). No handpulls. ALL cask will – if we do this again – be on stillage and served direct from the cask. And if I personally witness anyone getting angry with volunteers, they will be “asked” to leave. By me. This is beer. Something to enjoy. Not something to get ANGRY about because it’s a degree Kelvin warmer than recommended. These people give up their time to serve beer. They do it cheerfully. They do it because they care. Not because they wish to be abused.

I might even reduce numbers in the busier sessions. And up them slightly in the quieter ones.

In short, evolution. As in each year we’ve done this. No revolution. No “all you can drink”. No taster glasses. We don’t get everything right, but we try.

*About that IF business…….

#ISBF6 : 31st October to 2nd November 2019. At Hemsley House.

You may wish to diarise that date.

Tickets will be released on 25 August 2019. Forward planning eh?

And now, some sleep………….