The Power of Suggestion


This event (as you MAY have noticed) is now in its 6th year. In all those years, with a bit of fumbling incompetence on my part and no small helping of goodwill from a huge number of people, we’ve got through somehow. To the point where people came last year – many for the first time – and loved it. That is hugely flattering and a huge vindication of what we (myself, friends and our lovely beer heroes – aka Volunteers) do.

This is the epitome of a DIY beer festival. Me & some talented and generous friends. Albeit, one that started small and has now wormed its little way into hearts. Something that blows us away to be fair.


Since 2016 ALL of the beer at this event has been “first pour”, many for the UK as a whole, but certainly for Manchester. From myself and the rest of the team, that’s truly appreciated. The lengths breweries go to to ensure this is truly heartwarming. And in no small way contributes to the success of this event. We thank you all from the heart.

I (Jim) have met some lovely people in those 6 years. Both Brewers and drinkers. And last year – on the Saturday I think – I was approached, separately, by two such people. The second one shall remain unnamed until my little project is 100% in the can. But I can certainly name the first.

The First Collab for #ISBF6

The First Collab for #ISBF6

Some of you may know Mark Smith-Magee. You may know his blog. You may have been on a UK Brewery Tour that he has hosted around Leeds. You may know him socially. You may also know that he REALLY knows his beer.

I first met Mark via his friend Michael at a (I think) Beer & Cheese thing at Great Ale in Bolton Market. It was a lovely event. And we got chatting did the three of us. We went to Barristers bar on Bradshawgate for a beer afterwards. We parted with farewells and – for my part – no idea we’d meet again.


On that fateful Saturday he’d been at the cask De Ranke again. Smile on his face, he quietly mentioned something that might have been possible for Year 6. I smiled. And asked him to assess the possibility. So he did.

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About 3 months ago, we started messaging via DM (how very appropriate!). That progressed to email. And then things took spark. This might just happen. The brewery concerned were definitely interested. And there was a brewery from Mark’s area going to Collab with them. And they could help bring this beer to reality!

A lot of to-ing and fro-ing went on. But the goodwill was palpable. All wanted this to happen. I needed a wooden cask. That was easy. My good friend Malcolm at Five Towns sorted that out for me. We needed to decide the beer suitable for that “Woodie”, there were a few available, some very special beers that would work with a Wooden Cask.

Between Mark & I we made a decision we were both happy with. VERY happy with.

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Before I say what it is, I need to thank some people.

Primarily, Mark. He’s been absolutely brilliant, his enthusiasm, his contacts! It’s been a joy with all these emails!

Cameron from Turning Point has been a star. And I didn’t even need to remind him that he’s buddies with my nephew Fran! Cheers matey.

Malcolm, for being so accommodating with that cask. And so patient with my mithering!

Ed Read from Distant Lands for facilitating this importation. For being so helpful.

Last. And by no means least, Jaco, Marko & Kris for making this happen. HUGE THANK YOUS to all of you. It’s bloody humbling.

So. What have we got. What IS this labour of love?

You may have had it before. But I’ll wager NEVER from a wooden cask. “Bommen & Granaten”. From the lovely fellas at De Molen. A 9 gallon Wooden Cask.


I can’t thank everyone enough.

Hope you enjoy it.

Be kind to one another. Jim x