The early days of "planning" this bash are some of the most exciting.
These are the days when you have all sorts of wild ideas and have to calm yourself down and think "It's only beer" (© Chris)
I seem to fall into the same trap every year. And front load. With the strongest beers. And yes, I've done it again. I already know the first beer. And it's very special.
And that's the problem with what we achieved last year. To better it will be very difficult. But you can only try.
And we certainly started that. With the new venue and location....
When I posted that we were going to do this again, the response was somewhat intense. And rather surprising.
I know that the beer was good last year, that's my job, getting the best breweries that I can to get you something you haven't had before in this great city of beer that is Manchester.
And that is just one of the challenges for #ISBF5.
Another is to maintain the variety on both cask & keg whilst minimising waste. Whilst the keg virtually all got drunk, there was a lot of wastage on cask.
Whilst this is an event where all the profits go to charity, I want to maximise those profits.
We have a plethora of great brewers of cask conditioned beer in the North. And only a limited number of spaces in the racking. There will be changes in the line up, as in every year, to keep things exciting...
So, if the numbers of attendees stay roughly the same, that is likely to mean that there will have to be slightly less cask beer in volume. And, whilst I (Jim) adore cask conditioned beer, to waste 25% volume is unsustainable.
What ticketing allows me to do is analyse attendance patterns. And - consistently over the 4 previous years - there has been a non-attendance rate of about 20%. The new venue will impact on that, being more easily accessible from all points - and certainly via train.
As much as I loved St Sebastian’s, for a small event like this, location is key. And - however small the effort - St Sebastian’s did require some planning to get to.
A potential additional solution comes with ticketing, in particular, pricing.
This year, tickets are likely to come bundled with beer tokens as a package. The actual price won't change much, but it will mean less cash handling which will be further augmented by the ability to take payment by card. This should also have the side effect of increasing actual attendance compared to ticket sales.
For those who prefer to pay by cash, the nearest cash machine is just a few minutes walk. (Another benefit of the new location)
Invites will be going out to breweries in the next few weeks and I can for certain say that some breweries have already agreed to collaborate together. I'm already getting giddy at the thought!
I've also started to explore a very interesting possibility that - if it comes off - will leave you wondering "How did you do THAT?" (I like to keep things interesting for myself)
Tickets will go on sale on Sunday 2nd September and we will - as in the last two years - have a launch "party" at The Dungeon (aka The Brink) where there will be some exceptional (and especially brewed) beer, with the first chance to buy tickets.
On that subject. What has been truly amazing over the last 4 years has been the loyalty and the efforts some have gone to to attend.
To get people coming ESPECIALLY for this from Aberdeen, Brighton, Bristol, Coventry, Northen Ireland - even Iraq, is humbling.
Since I announced we were doing it again however, the interest (and determination to attend) from people far and wide who've never been before, simply amazed me.
Even with the new venue - with the potential for increased capacity - we're not going to get much "bigger". We might have 15% more availability, but they won't last long.
And I still want this bash to be relaxed, comfy, friendly. Which is why we won't grow much more.
So remember that date. 2nd September. 20:00
Also, courtesy of the lovable & extremely talented Mr Heggs and Drumbeat, we'll have our redesigned website up and running shortly - we gave up on the pretty original (genuinely) because we thought we wouldn't do #ISBF5.
That will enable you to see updates as they come in, communicate with us directly and serve as the platform from which volunteers and potential sponsors can get in touch.
You can NEVER have too many beer sponsors (obviously you can, but, you know....)
And also.....on the subject of sponsors...........
I can announce that we have a new glassware sponsor in those lovely people at The Northern Type!
So. In short.
Tickets on sale 2nd September at 20:00
Don't. Miss. Out.
It may be "Only beer". But it will be exceptional beer. I promise you.
And - as I've always said - I keep my promises.