Happy New Year!
The end of each year is always the time when I (Jim) attempt to catch those beers I missed on the bar at ISBF. 2018 was no different. Ah.... The perils of being – or attempting to be – responsible during the event eh?
And – despite my promises to self to take some time off – it’s also the time when I take stock of what worked and – more importantly – what didn’t. The things that I got wrong.
And look to put those things right.
It’s truly heartwarming when you see plaudits being handed out, when you see the efforts of the entire group of helpers and volunteers rewarded with “Best Beer Festival” gongs. It makes me go all gooey when people (rightly) point out the feeling, the friendliness of the team, the music, everything but the beer.
Because – whilst the beer is important – these things are about people enjoying themselves. And if you DO enjoy yourself, we’ve done our job. And enjoyed ourselves doing it.
But. And here’s the rub. Having set a date of end of October, that means planning has to start now. And has.
I’ve already stated that there will be changes on the beer front. 70 keg and 30 cask. With the cask all dispensed straight from the vessel. The aim being that each beer you get will be cooled. Not warm. It’s difficult at beer festivals to get cask right, but, within the facilities we have, we’ll try. I also had a few whispers in my ear about potential opportunities for something “different” – on both cask and keg. Those have been pursued this week and may have already borne fruit.
To be frank, if these come off, I’ll be astonished. But you’ve got to shoot for the stars right?
For my (Jim) part, I’ve always been acutely aware that I haven’t paid enough attention to the non-beer side of this event. So I intend to make use of the next 7 months and address that. Indeed, I’ve already made some progress on that. To the extent that – for the first time - at #ISBF6, we’ll have a presentation on the Thursday evening. Indeed, there is already an agreement in place. And if this comes off it may be game changing for us.
Another change will be fewer tickets. Yes. You read that correctly. Fewer tickets. That applies on the Friday evening through to Saturday evening. The numbers will be reduced to 250 maximum. Why? It was just a bit too warm. And a teensy bit too crowded. To offset that, there’ll be a slight increase for the Thursday evening and Friday lunch sessions. To 200.
THAT should mean that the majority of (the increased) beer volume should last well into Saturday evening.
And – on that subject – the alarm bells that started to ring during that Saturday evening session mean that I need to recognise that – despite the mitigation I’ve mentioned above – there will be a slight gamble with beer choice on the Saturday evening. Let me be clear, ALL of the beer is – or is sourced to be – as exceptional as I can get. I don’t do FOMO, but need to recognise that some do. So, with that in mind, ticket price for that session will be slightly reduced. (Not by much, because the entry element is a small part of the ticket price.)
Going back to breweries. And beer... I’m tickled that several breweries that haven’t been at ISBF previously have agreed to come and have beer at #ISBF6. Each year things need to change, but one thing that won’t is the requirement for each beer to be new to Manchester (as at the start of the event). And – if it comes off – there’ll be a major change with the keg offer. Which, logistically, may be a challenge too far. But we’re certainly going to try.
And this year – for the first time – as much thought will be given to the cider as to the beer. So watch this space.
For now, that’s it. I’ll keep you updated when I’ve got information for you. But, please remember this. Given the feedback I’ve had and the continuing complimentary social media, when those fewer tickets go on sale on 25th August, don’t hang about. Because I get the feeling that they won’t last long.
Be kind to one another.