We recently caught up with Dave Stone of Wylam ahead of their steering the good ship Room 3 at IMBC 18 as official room sponsor. Wylam have been all guns blazing for quite the while and big players on the IMBC scene for years now. This year will see them toting more beers than ever at the festival and you will find Wylam pouring beers at ALL sessions in the pool in Room 3. Here’s what Dave has to say about it…
Ahoy Dave. We are excited to welcome Wylam to IMBC 18 as the sponsors of Room 3 AKA the party room. Can you let us in on any plans for the space?
Wylam are no strangers to beer festivals – either attending or putting on your own great spread in the shape of Craft Beer Calling. What makes a good beer festival?
The Palace of Arts! What a place! Can you tell us a little about the history of the building, how you came to inhabit it and what you guys offer there to visitors?
By The River! We’ve heard rave reports but have yet to dip our beak. What’s going on over there? Sounds wild!
Wylam have been producing some fantastic beers recently and have been at the forefront of the UK’s quality pale output. What beers are you particularly proud of from the past 12 months?
Collaborations – you have been very busy lately. Your Northern Powerhouse series went down a storm – are there plans for this to become a regular thing? What are some of the biggest positives of collaborating with peers?
Can you tease us with any special beers you’ve got up your sleeve for IMBC 18?
What’s next for Wylam?
To be honest when we attend IMBC we tend to stay within the festival but there is an abundance of great beer bars in the city so free your mind and your ass will follow.
IMBC 18 / 4th-7th October 2018. Victoria Baths, Manchester
Tickets for Thursday 4th, Friday 5th day session, and Sunday 7th October are available HERE.
Cloudwater are back at IMBC for their fourth appearance since first exploding onto the scene in 2015. This year Cloudwater are the room sponsors of Room 1 at Victoria Baths and you will find them pouring them freshies at every session of IMBC 18. We spoke to Cloudwater about upcoming plans for IMBC 18 and more besides…
In Unit 9 we wanted to create a more comfortable space for our customers as well as a more permanent space that we as a brewery can take pride in. The Barrel Store was a great stop gap, but with Unit 9, we have a better environment for people coming in to see what we are all about, as well as to showcase great beer we are inspired by. We had our first tap takeover from Bagby Beer, coming all the way from Oceanside, California, which included freshly air-freighted beers and an evening in conversation with Jeff Bagby, who is a phenomenal figure in the Southern California beer industry and an absolute don of the West Coast IPA.
Plus, Unit 9 has a fantastic dispense system installed by Yvan of Jolly Good Beer, with beer direct from our 3ºC cold store, maintaining temperature until it leaves the tap.
We’ve been in discussion with Linzi, our awesome Unit 9 tap room manager, as well as our new events crew in creating some IndyMan fun in the lead-up to and alongside the festival. We are still finalising these details, but expect some guest beers from friends of ours on the taps, collab brew launches, and some one-off brews alongside some single barrel releases from our Barrel Store and the launch of our new Autumn/Winter range of beers, which will also be integral in our IndyMan offering.
Cloudwater have been holding down Room 2 at Victoria Baths the past two years at IMBC. This year Cloudwater are the sponsor of Room 1 INSIDE a pool. What are you hoping to bring to the space?
We are excited to be dispensing our beers through a direct-draw cold store, which will be a first at the festival. It might be a bit geeky but dispense is so important for presenting your beer in the best possible way, and we are really hoping to take it to another level.
Also, two words: Crispy Corner. (Ed: Lager heads, take heed)
What are the latest developments at Cloudwater HQ?
Aside from the recent opening of Unit 9, we are currently getting the staff and opening sorted for our London tap room at 73 Enid Street in Bermondsey. We are looking forward to joining the wonderful community in beer there, as well as other things food and drink related. We are looking to open not long after IndyMan. Hope you all like pink!
Additionally, we’ve just recently brewed our 500th beer, which will be a hefty little number inspired by parkin. For those of you who aren’t aware of the glory that is parkin, think ginger, treacle and sticky tasty cake vibes.
How was it sitting in on this year’s Thirsty Games qualifying tasting? The 2018 Thirsty Games brewery line-up is one of the best yet but there was stiff competition!
There were quite a lot of interesting entries for the Thirsty Games this year. We hosted this in our Barrel Store, and the competition was pretty close, particularly with how many breweries there were. Claudia and Connor both sat on the panel and tried a lot of beer. It’s hard work for some.
The best beer festivals we’ve been a part of have been those that have a welcoming atmosphere. As breweries going to places near and far, it’s great to feel welcomed by the festival hosts as well as the attendees. We recently had a wonderful experience in the town of Hammerfest in the very north of Norway–within the Arctic Circle! The bar, Jernteppet, and its owners and staff really looked after all the breweries attending and were exceptionally kind, and that put us all in a great mood that was passed onto the attendees, which sort of fed back to us. It was a welcoming festival in a welcoming town, and we couldn’t have asked for much more! IndyMan has been amazing in that respect in showing Northern hospitality to attendees coming from all over.
We are really privileged to be involved in so many events with such positivity. Events surrounding beer should be positive, and ones that everyone should be able to enjoy! We shouldn’t miss out on the experience of meeting and connecting with people at festivals just to tick a few beers off a list. Beer festivals such as IndyMan don’t just bring great beer all in one place, but they also bring in a fabulous community of brewers, enthusiasts, industry folks and people just curious about what this whole beer thing is about and what DIPA stands for.
Big fans of the Blawd Doughnuts, particularly paired with impy stouts. Recommended food and beer pairing action right there. We also can’t forget the masses gathering around the huge wheel of cheese in the Wild Beer Co. tent, chanting “CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE” then animalistacally grabbing fist-fulls, bare handed, eating it plain. Plus, the beer from our friends Forest & Main were sublime. It was great having them pour with us!
Tickets for IMBC 18 are available for Thursday 4th October and Sunday 7th October sessions HERE.
VERDANT return to IMBC for their third year at Victoria Baths. This time Verdant commandeer the Turkish Baths as official IMBC 18 room sponsors. We spoke to Adam Robertson, Verdant co-founder, about life in the juice lane. Read on…
You guys are constantly revisiting and updating the recipes of your core range – how is that process? Do you ever feel like you achieve the perfect rendition of say Headband or will it always be a case of fine tuning and adapting?
We have revisited the core range continually and mainly down to the fact they are all still brewed into our original flat bottom fermenters, which restricts us to using dried yeast. We are now happy with all iterations of these beers and even to the point now that we feel moving away from these FV’s would change the beers again and maybe too far away from what they are now. Headband for in stance is tasting perfect right now, Pulp & Bloom have never been messed with and as for Lightbulb, well that’s an ongoing battle and mainly down to the fact that subjectively we all like different things. But, I’m pretty sure that we are very close to having that nailed too.
Have you noticed any particular trends in drinking habits this past year? Lower ABV stuff seems to be much more prevalent than it was amongst UK breweries than it was last year for instance.
Lower ABV beers for sure and fruited sours, the triple fruited Gose we collab’d with North Brewing on definitely seemed to hit a sweet spot with people. I think the brewers have driven the low ABV trend, last year at beer festivals was brutal with all the DIPA’s floating around. There is also a definite trend towards the Brut IPA, an IPA fermented out with Champagne yeast, still fruity but with an incredibly dry finish.
How is it meeting the demand for Verdant beers? You’re bringing out new beers most weeks – it is exciting times. You recently increased your brewing capacity. What are your plans moving forward?
We brew to capacity each week, we have filled our space to capacity so we simply can not grow any more in our current situation, so yeah that is exciting. We create new beers each week and we release them via our online store, the Experiment in Hackney and via distribution and then on Monday we start all over again. It’s really fun times but we look to the future and we try to understand how sustainable that is, the UK beer scene doesn’t look to buy the same beer twice, everyone always wants something new and I wrestle with how healthy that is for a business. It works whilst we are this small and still have a large portion of the market to attract, but how sustainable is it when we grow to be larger brewery…
Our plans are to grow for sure, but we are so limited in finding suitable space in Falmouth. We are working hard to solve these problems and have a couple of options. We will be looking to putting some plans in place later this year.
This space really excites all of us. We know it’s late and it’s taking too long but it will be so very worth it. Current plans are to open over the weekend of the Falmouth Oyster Festival on October 16th. The space we have taken on has been the Falmouth Seafood Bar for nearly 40 years, we want to continue this tradition but bring Verdant beers into the mix also. It’s quite an important space in Falmouth and although very small will be a great place to spend an afternoon or evening when visiting the town. Expect the freshest seafood along side the freshest beers.
Are you finding drinkers are making the pilgrimage to Falmouth more often these days? Where should any prospective fans visit in Falmouth?
Most definitely! We find the shop at the brewery is very busy with people suggesting day trips to Falmouth via the stop off at an industrial estate. It’s really very exciting to have the drinkers from around the country drop in and buy fresh cans. We always get to here where they buy our beers outside of Cornwall. If coming to Falmouth you need to visit HAND Beer Bar – 8 years a craft beer, The Working Boat stunning location and good food, The Star & Garter for finer dining, The Seaview Inn for a pub with a panoramic view of Falmouth. You can’t really go wrong for food in Falmouth, the Kitchen is fantastic, The Wheelhouse if you can get a table and Provedore (arrive early with cash) are all great options.
A man dressed as Mario playing an 8bit keyboard 🤣 (Ed: if you know you know)
But seriously it’s down to the organisers. When an event is well organised the brewers pull out all the stops and bring their A game. A well organised festival provides everything that the customer would need. Beer, Food and Conveniences often; layered with music and good vibes at value for money. The location for IMBC is worth the ticket alone.
Tell us about The Experiment! How did your partnership with Pressure Drop come about? Any plans to link arms with those guys at IMBC?
In the true name of collaboration, we were invited to brew with PD and we bit their arm off. For us they had been the catalyst to drinking better beer in the UK so it had to happen. When we there Graham had mentioned their old site and that it was laying dormant. We took a visit together and the plans were hatched. It was a simple decision and it’s a very softy launch. We have some more work to do there but it’s working out really well, we are very excited to have such a place in London – we get the freshest beers up there each week. We hadn’t considered an Experiment at IMBC 🤔
Lastly, what are Verdant going to bring to the Turkish Baths? Any exciting plans you can leak?
No leaks, but expect some beers never poured by us before, when I say never poured… beer that has been hanging around for a while that we need you guys to taste. Music naturally as we are all huge fans, a photo booth is being lined up so that visitors can remember their time at IMBC and we can post you all onto the internet. Expect fun times!
IMBC 18 / 4th-7th October 2018. Victoria Baths, Manchester
Tickets for Thursday 4th, Friday 5th day session, and Sunday 7th October are available HERE.
We stole a few precious moments with Denis Johnstone, Brewery Manager at Buxton, to chat IMBC 17 and Buxton’s exciting plans. Buxton Brewery are the sponsors of the Green Room at IMBC this year and you can expect a ravishing haul across all sessions.
Hi Denis, we are really excited to have Buxton bossing their own room at IMBC this year. Can you tell us a little about what you folks have lined up for the Green Room?
Hi Dave! Yeah we’re super excited to be hosting the Green Room this year! We’re bringing a really wide range of our beers and re-brewed some classics especially for IMBC including Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA and Battle Horse Black DIPA – both will be kegged a day or two before the festival! We’re also bringing two slushie machines and a heap of the Buxton x Omnipollo Original Ice Cream Beers and are planning to do some fun toppings.
Yes totally sworn to secrecy haha! Yes our “Speakeasy Tasting Room” at the brewery is almost ready and we should have it opened very soon.
Buxton Tap House is a real destination for any beer aficionado. I’d imagine your soft serve machines get quite the reaction from the uninitiated at the Tap House. Do the ice cream beers blow a lot of minds on a daily basis?
They certainly do! But a few minds also regularly get blown by Axe Edge! The soft serve machines are a fantastic talking point and really get people excited about our Ice Cream beers. Apart from us and Omnipollo’s Hatt (Stockholm) there aren’t many bars that offer the ice cream beers with soft serve on an almost permanent basis!
What are your top Manchester tips for visitors to the city over IMBC weekend?
The Smithfield is always awesome but I’m pretty sure history will repeat itself and I’ll end up at Port Street most nights again this year! Especially with the Burning Sky takeover! For food has to be Bundobust.
Finally. What’s your desert island Buxton beer of choice? Cold stored, naturally.
At IMBC 16 we debuted a new bar called The Thirsty Games. The bar showcased three small breweries: Maregade, Wilde Child, and Fiveclouds. The three were chosen by an IMBC panel following an open call seeking out the best UK small breweries. Beers from the three were poured throughout the festival and you, the public, voted on your favourite Thirsty Games brewery via ballot. Fiveclouds came out on top after four days of intensive tasting and took home the very first Thirsty Games trophy.
Team IMBC took a trip to Fiveclouds Tap in Macclesfield to catch up with our Thirsty Games 2016 winners, Fiveclouds. We spoke to Tom and Josh in the excellent surrounds of Fiveclouds Tap’s cellar…
Who is Fiveclouds? Tell us a little about your brewing setup
Fiveclouds is a small gypsy brewery based in Macclesfield, Cheshire. We focus on brewing seasonal, progressive and modern beer. We started as a small 1BBL brewery brewing out of Torrside. We used their pilot kit for 10 months before moving up to their full size kit as demand increased. We’re massively grateful to those guys for helping us get our beer out! We started brewing at Wincle to allow us to brew 2 10BBL batches a month – the slight difference in kits suits us as we can experiment more with process and most of all learn from both of them!
How was your experience of being at IMBC 16?
Absolutely awesome yet pretty overwhelming! We had such an amazing time pouring next to some of our favourite breweries and friends alike. To be pouring at IMBC in our first year of trading was a massive deal to us, slightly surreal after going for the past few years as drinkers and we were totally surprised at the amount of interest and feedback from other brewers and the public alike. It opened a huge amount of doors for us as a brewery and gave us some much needed confidence.
When we tweeted the results of the competition our tweet had got over 6000 interactions that night. We had about 30 bars from around the country asking for beer over twitter, etc. It was pretty crazy!
How has your life changed since winning the inaugural Thirsty Games?
Since IMBC ’16 we’ve started to brew monthly at two separate breweries – Torrside Brewery and Wincle Brewery – producing around 20BBL of beer a month. That’s around 5 or 6 times more beer per month than we were brewing, however it was much needed as we got to a point where we were selling out before I’d got a chance to post availability out.
What’s next for Fiveclouds?
We’re spending this year on building up the brewery, focusing on creating continually evolving beers that we want to brew while focusing on quality, consistency and experimentation in our practices and techniques. We’re currently working on getting a take-home product out on the market that we’re happy with, and getting this to the end customer directly in the best possible condition – this is hugely important to us as a small brewery as allows people to experience our product how it’s intended while making it sustainable for us to brew the beers we like by selling direct.
As winner of The Thirsty Games you won the privilege of being the first brewery on the team sheet for IMBC 17. What can people expect?
We’ve got a rough idea of what we’d like to bring to IMBC ’17 and we’re lining up a few special collabs for it! Either way, expect some fresh and juicy hop forward pales/IPAs along with a possible return of last years Double Sunset and a few more specials we have planned!
Where can we find your beer?
Our beers our slowly getting around the north west. Port Street, Common, The Beagle, Brink, Heaton Hops have all taken beer recently. Our cans will soon be available on Eebria to buy, as well as around some bottles shops.
THANKS FIVECLOUDS! SEE YOU AT IMBC 17!
Should you find yourselves Macclesfield-way, we implore you to make a visit to the Fiveclouds Tap & Bottle. It’s a great setup with a really nice underground bunker of a cellar. There’s 4 kegs and a cask line, a fine bottle selection, and it’s open 7 days a week. Taste Fiveclouds wherever you can, they’re coming out with some great beer at the moment and we can’t wait to see what they do at IMBC 17.
THE THIRSTY GAMES will be returning to IMBC 17 with a host of new breweries. Look out for details on that and how to enter very shortly indeed!