So. What's Occurring #ISBF6?

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Where does the time go eh? Here we are at Year 6 of ISBF and time has flown.

Each year of ISBF has seen some change. This event has evolved year on year. This year is no different.

Year 6 sees a few changes. Many of which occur on the Thursday.

1.       A shift in the events. For the first time, we’re having an event on the Thursday evening. And it’s a belter. See below*.

2.       More focus on Cider. Again, see below*.

3.       First “pay to play” event. See 1 & 2…

So yes. We’ve got an event this year on the Thursday and I’m genuinely excited, something that doesn’t happen often.

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Last year, by complete chance, I met two lovely people who happen to be Cider enthusiasts. No, Evangelists. For modern cider. Which is traditional cider. Confused? I was. Until I chatted with Dick Withecombe and Cath Potter. Cider taken back to its roots. Carefully curated orchards. Hand made. Naturally – in some instances, wildly – fermented. Small batch, lovingly created. Quality, not volume.

The links between beer and cider, especially on the wild and mixed fermentation sides of beer became obvious. So....

Dick & Cath have curated the Cider list. And SO much more. They got in contact with celebrated drinks writer Susanna Forbes - one half of Little Pomona Orchard & Cidery, editor of Full Juice Magazine and author of the book “The Cider Insider” who both really knows her stuff and also shares a love of that shared territory between Craft Beer and Craft Cider. So.

*On the Thursday evening, Susanna has kindly agreed to lead a conversation entitled “When Cider Meets Beer – Flavour and Fun, Crossovers and Collaborations” centred around that interface of flavours and techniques with cider and beer. She’ll be discussing this with a special guest and there will be a tasting of various Ciders, beers and collaborations between the two, highlighting the shared territory of flavours and the crossovers in both flavours and techniques.

Tastings will include :

Mills Brewing / Tom Oliver – Lambinett

Burning Sky Bewery / Ascension Cider – Apple Saison

Brick Brewery / Hawkes Cider - Graff

Wild Beers / Pilton Cider collaboration

Blakstoc Hopped Cider

Tickets are super limited. And – for the first time – I’m charging for them. I’ve reserved myself a ticket. Is that recommendation enough?


On Friday evening, I’ll be introducing a conversation on the use of Social Media in the beer world. It’s an old bugbear of mine. Something I’m passionate about. And this will be fun. We’ve got one or two stars in their field. Patrick from Pilot Beer is coming, we’ve got Connor Murphy (Social Media at Cloudwater & the founder of Manchester Beer Week), Sean Clarke from Beer Central in Sheffield and others yet to be named (never say that I’m organised!)

On Saturday evening, we’ll have some absolutely angelic guitar playing from our friend and maestro George Fell. Those who’ve heard him play, know. The man is just a genius.

The food will be the usual ISBF fare. Simple, tasty and wholesome. If you’ve been, you know.

There’ll also be something to drink.

A small and select gin bar – curated by the lovely Charlie (Gin Fuelled Bluestocking)

A Cider bar featuring some of the best modern Cidermakers from the UK curated by Dick & Cath, featuring the following

Ross on Wye Cider and Perry Co

Little Pomona Cider

Tom Oliver Fine Cider

Tom Oliver / Mills Brewing - limited

Blakstoc hopped cider

Hawkes Cider

Nightingales Cider

Ascension / Burning Sky - limited

Dunham Press Cider

Moss Cider

And beer.

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Beer. That’s my baby. Both in cask (because I love cask) and #EvilKegFilth. Cask first. Here’s the brewery list. And remember, each beer should be new to the Manchester area. A “first pour if you will.....

Bad Seed

Beer Nouveau

Black Jack

Blue Bee

Box Social

Brass Castle



Cheshire Brewhouse

Chin Chin

Cwrw Ial x

Five Towns

Five Towns




North Riding

North Riding x Northern Monk

Northern Monkey






Team Toxic

Thirst Class




De Ranke

And a mystery beer……. I can’t stop myself from teasing!

And. In the other room….


What I’ve left off is a little side project that I’ve worked on. I’ll save that for another post, when the degree of certainty reaches 100%......

The date that the event commences has assumed a somewhat greater significance since it was set, that is something that it will be increasingly difficult to overlook the closer we get. However, this event has always been a coming together of like minds in many senses. So let’s park the politics at the door, have a few beers amongst friends and let the world pass us by. For 3 days at least. Let’s have some joy eh?

That feeling of friendship and relaxation is one of the things we have been most proud of with this event. Friendships being formed, renewed, strengthened year on year.

And – to reiterate something that stuck with me from last year. Treat the volunteers (my personal Beer Heroes) with respect. They do this for fun. They love what they do and give their time freely to do it. A degree or two Kelvin too high for your beer isn’t life or death. Ask politely for a repour and you’ll get it. With a smile. Any abuse of volunteers will be addressed.

Be kind to one another eh?

Right. Sorry about that. To the business end. Tickets. Click here.

See you soon. I’m now off to a quiet room.

Jim x