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