indy man beer con

Ventile Q&A | Thirsty Games

We caught up with Thirsty Games 2019 winner, Ventile Brew Co, to see how life is treating them after last year’s IMBC victory. I mean, there’s not really been much going on has there. Doi. Entries for The Thirsty Games 2020 are still open. If you’re eligible, you should most certainly apply HERE. The Thirsty Games is IMBC’s competition to find the best new small breweries in the UK. Let’s speak to Dave from Ventile to find out his experience of last year…

Hello Dave. Congratulations on winning The Thirsty Games 2019! How was your experience pouring at the festival?

Thanks very much. It’s the classic cliche I’m afraid but it really was a dream come true to be pouring at IMBC. I’ve been a punter at the festival for 6-7 years so it was great to experience the other side of the festival so to speak. To be stood in a room pouring my beers with the likes of Creature Comforts, Burning Sky and Garage was mind blowing and something that’ll stay with me forever. It was also great to take part in the competition alongside Cellar Boys and Vault City who I had a great time with over the weekend.

How was the response – both from the public and industry – to you winning the competition?

Really good. It was great to have fellow brewers coming up afterwards congratulating me and the response from the general public post festival was great.
indy man beer con
Was there a particular beer that you brought to IMBC 19 that you feel helped bring the trophy home?

It’s hard to say really. My mindset was always, this may be the only chance I get to showcase my beers at this level so why not put out a full spread. I was really happy with Stairway To The Best Party, which was a coconut, cacao & coffee imperial stout. It was insane getting people coming up to the Thirsty Games stand who’d marked it as a beer to try at the festival asking when it was pouring.

You won The Thirsty Games 2019 under the ÖL Brewery moniker – very much a one man brewing operation. You’ve now set up your own brewery with Ventile Brew Co. Can you tell us a little bit about this new direction?

Winning the competition definitely was the confidence boost I needed to push on to set up for myself. I feel brewing at ÖL awarded me the time to find my identity so to speak and to really hone my craft but apart from at the festival, my beers never left the bar where the kit was setup. So Ventile was the natural next step for me. Bigger kit, bigger space and hopefully a wider audience for the beer itself.

What is your current brewing setup and what are your plans for the future?

My new setup is a 3bbl kit with three fermenters in a 1500sq ft space located in an old cotton mill, South Manchester.
The long term plan is to have a taproom onsite with a permanent food offering that’ll compliment the taproom experience so to speak, obviously when safe to do so.

Like many brewers, you come from a culinary background. How does your kitchen experience influence your approach to Ventile?

I always saw kitchens as a place to experiment after working in a high end restaurant when I first started in the hospitality sector and I think that stuck with me. I also think when working with food you’re always looking to find balance within a dish using different ingredients, and I think that’s very much the same when developing a recipe for a beer, so there’s definitely a similar mindset that’s transferable between food and beer.

indy man beer con

Ventile are the first Manchester brewery to win The Thirsty Games. As places open back up into new normality, what are your food and drink tips for visitors to the city?

Good question.

Coffee: Siop Shop, Pollen Bakery
Food : Tokyo Ramen, Bundobust, Nell’s, Arndale Food Market, Listo Burrito, Mughli
Bevs: PSBH, Station Hop, The Magnet, Beermoth, Nordie, Heaton Hops.

Which new breweries are catching your attention in 2020?

Not sure how new all of these are but these are newish to me.
New Barns, Glasshouse, Boxcar, Dig Brew co, Overtone, Wilderness.

Lastly, it’s an exciting – and I’m sure a scary – time to be starting a new business in the Covid-19 landscape. The thirst of the nation doesn’t appear to have diminished over the past months. How can thirsty punters pick up Ventile beers? And what should drinkers look forward to from Ventile in the coming months?

To start with we’ll be just selling kegs via direct wholesale so hopefully you’ll start to see our beers at bars in and and around Manchester soon enough. We want to get beer into cans as soon as we can so then you’ll be able to order off our website ( for delivery nationwide. We’ll also be offering free delivery within certain postcodes close to the brewery via our electric cargo bike.

Beer-wise Ventile will have a strong core range of four of five beers that’ll be around most of the time and then to experiment around that with a mixed fermentation and barrel ageing program.


indy man beer con

Enter The Thirsty Games 2020


The Thirsty Games is IMBC’s competition to find the best small and upcoming breweries operating in the UK today. This year will be the fifth year of The Thirsty Games.

From nationwide submissions we will pick the best three entrants to present as The Thirsty Games 2020 finalists. A public vote, alongside an industry panel, will decide the winner of The Thirsty Games 2020.

In previous years, The Thirsty Games bar has been a focal point of the physical festival at Victoria Baths. This year, with IMBC 2020 not happening in its usual guise due to COVID-19, public voting will assume a new normal form. In the next months we will look to provide you with options to sample The Thirsty Games finalists. Stay tuned for updates.

The winner of The Thirsty Games 2020 will receive prizes from Thirsty Games supporters Lallemand, Yakima Chief Hops, and Simpsons Malt. Basically all the ingredients you need to make great beer, from three of the greatest suppliers around. The winner will also become a featured brewery at IMBC 2021. A prize fund and further incentives will also be bestowed upon the crowned brewery.

Previous Thirsty Games winners are ÖL Brewery (now Ventile Brew Co, 2019), Liquid Light (2018), Burning Soul (2017), and Fivecloud Brew Co (2016). Thirsty Games alumni includes Donzoko, Yonder, Little Earth Project, Affinity Brew Co, Wilde Child,  Maregade,  Cellar Boys, and Vault City.


Use this FORM if the below criteria applies. 


The entrants should be 10bbl single brew length or under in size, or a brewery operating on a cuckoo basis in the UK.

The entrants should have been producing beer for less than 24 months.

The entrants should have their beer on general sale and be duty paid.


We want to sample your A-game beers. Send us your most interesting and creative samples.

Send a minimum of two cans / bottles per beer entered. Please send no more than three different beers.



All samples must reach Port Street Beer House, 39-41 Port Street, Manchester M1 2EQ by 1st September 2020.

The chosen three Thirsty Games finalists will be announced shortly afterwards.

Thank you and good luck!


Food and Non-Beer at IMBC 19

Hungry or thirsty for something that isn’t beer? We have got you covered. Find the following offerings over here all festival long…


In the Food Village…

One true loves HONEST CRUST have been banging out banging sourdough pizza since 2013. Bona fide.

IMBC debut for these fried chicken whisperers / seitan slayers FIREBIRD HOPE. Operating out of YES, many have dubbed Firebird Hope the pengest munch. Their chicken / vegan chicken burger builds are architecture.

I have personally eaten DÖNER SUMMER 463 times, and reader, it never gets old. VEGAN Berlin inspired döner kebabs, crunchy hash brown bites and more. Currently killing it softly at Northern Monk Refectory MCR.

Pie and mash at a beer festival with gravy? It would be unfathomably rude not to. Viva GREAT NORTH PIE. Such perfect pies with mash that is sculpted from the clouds of Valhalla.

Chinese food with a twist. The twist is that you can’t stop eating DIM SUM SU Salt and Pepper Fries and you float up like a big balloon once you’ve achieved perfection and glide into the sun ***POP***

Famed throughout the lands for their fries piled high with curries. VASO KITCHEN provide the perfect cronch in their fries meaning they take the stack masterfully, nae sogginess. Inevitable.

An ‘otdog, an ‘otdog. My kingdom for an ‘otdog. Showstopping sausages in bun houses from frankfurter fashionistas DIAMOND DOGS.

Primo chipotle cha-chas (burritos) from the hands of the The Beagle kitchen. Conveniently all wrapped up like a present. Handheld compatible.

On the Snack Shelf in Room 1…

Their crab balls are the stuff of legend. Oysters everywhere. Crayfish for daysfish. We love em. Go visit HOLY CRAB in the Arndale Food Market if you cannae wait.

Dough babies SIOP SHOP slay the sweet game dead. Watch out for billowing doughnuts and ice cream fills from the pied pipers of piped icing. Sessionable.

Coffee bean serenaders IDLE HANDS lock arms with Siop Shop once more to complete the most iconic duo since since since. Crema scenes and likely their famous pies too. The day starts here. Pick. Me. Up.

Ohhhh shiiii. The worldies BUNDOBUST are back in the IMBC building (literally) as they saddle up alongside Siop, Idle Hands, and Holy Crab on the ‘Snack Shelf’ in Room 1 to dish up some ambient bangers. Bundobust beers on too!


Hackney handmade soda artisans return to IMBC to tear it up w/ their seasonal sparkling softs +++ make your own shandy opportunities wa wa wee wa.

Kombucha in the house, fermentation heads. Scoby Doo! Manchester booch units descend

Natural wine by the glass or bottle over in the Turkish Baths c/o Huddersfield wine shop and bar, Kwas.

Bean queens supreme gleam crema dreams

Brewery made gins alongside v primo beer cocktails and classics. Bar naps to the night sky. Dabbing cowboy emoji.

+++ CIDER!

Over the IMBC 19 weekend we will have star turns in Room 1 from Hogan’s Cider, Pilton, and Ross-On-Wye.

IMBC 19 Breweries


Room 1 – CLOUDWATER (Manchester)
Room 2 – BURNING SKY (Firle)
Room 3 – WYLAM (Newcastle)
Green Room – SIREN (Finchampstead)
Turkish Baths – DEYA (Cheltenham)
Pineapple Room – VERDANT (Falmouth)
Food Village 1 – LERVIG (Stavanger, Norway) x BEER MERCHANTS (Manchester)
Food Village 2 – FIERCE (Aberdeen)
BUXTON (Buxton)
BY THE RIVER (Newcastle)
CASCADE (Portland, USA)
KERNEL (London)
LIQUID LIGHT (Nottingham)
NORTH (Leeds)
OMNIPOLLO (Stockholm, Sweden)
TRACK (Manchester)
WILD BEER CO (Shepton Mallet)
ZAPATO (Marsden)
THE THIRSTY GAMES | Cellar Boys (London)
THE THIRSTY GAMES | ÖL Brewery (Manchester)
THE THIRSTY GAMES | Vault City (Edinburgh)
HOGAN’S CIDER (Alcester)
BLACK IRIS (Nottingham)
BOUNDARY (Belfast)
BURNT MILL (Suffolk)
CHAPTER (Runcorn)
FUERST WIACEK (Berlin, Germany)
FYNE ALES (Cairndow)
HARBOUR (North Cornwall)
MAGNIFY (New Jersey, USA)
MARBLE (Manchester)
ODYSSEY (Whitbourne)
OVERWORKS (Aberdeen)
PILOT (Leith)
SQUAWK (Manchester)
UNITY (Southampton)
VIBRANT FOREST (Southampton)
PILTON CIDER (Shepton Mallet)
ALMASTY (Newcastle)
THE BEAK (London)
BLACKJACK (Manchester)
BURNING SOUL (Birmingham)
COLLECTIVE ARTS (Hamilton, Canada)
DONZOKO (Hartlepool)
GIBBERISH (Liverpool)
POHJALA (Tallinn, Estonia)
REDWILLOW (Macclesfield)
RUNAWAY (Manchester)
THIRST CLASS (Stockport)
WANDER BEYOND (Manchester)
YONDER (Somerset)
Did it hurt when you rose from hell yes?
Tickets available for Thursday and Sunday (just!) sessions: BUY EM HERE
3rd-6th October 2019
Victoria Baths, Manchester

Liquid Light | Thirsty Games 2018 Winners Q&A

As we near IMBC 19 and the reveal of The Thirsty Games 2019 brewery line up, we catch up with Liquid Light ~ the winners of The Thirsty Games 2018…

Congratulations on winning The Thirsty Games 2018! How was your experience pouring at the festival? 

Thank you! We had the most amazing time at the festival! We’ve been attending the festival for years now as punters so it was a real honour to be pouring our own beer!

How was the response – both from the public and industry – to you winning the competition?

Immense! The day after it was announced we had won, our stock was decimated! It definitely helped our exposure nationwide too, getting a win from such a highly regarded event as IMBC. From the general public, it was also great to get direct feedback from people trying and enjoying our beers at the festival. From an industry perspective, we met so many incredible people brewing outstanding beers over the weekend. We’re now lucky enough to call many of them friends and have taken part in some awesome collaborations over the past year.

Was there a particular beer that you brought to IMBC 18 that you feel brought the trophy home?

IMBC was one of the first showcases of our Blueberry Gose ‘Cosmik Debris’ which we are really proud of and sold very quickly over the course of the weekend! It has now become Grace’s favourite of all the beers we brew!

You recently collaborated with fellow Thirsty Games alumni Donzoko and Yonder – can you tell us about that beer and it was like sharing the Thirsty Games bar with those two in 2018? 

Meeting Reece from Donzoko and Stuart and Jasper from Yonder was great. At the festival, before the result was announced we all agreed that we should meet up for a collaboration brew. Doing a brew with them was a real melting pot of ideas as we all brew such different beer and all have our own specialities. In the end, we settled on a continental red ale using foraged gooseberries and pineapple weed, and fermented with a mix of saison and wine yeast. We’ve just released a small amount of the brew as a clean, unsoured version and will be putting the rest of the brew in red wine barrels! We can’t wait for you to try it!

OH…was there anything else interesting that happened at IMBC 18 that wasn’t strictly beer related? 

WE GOT ENGAGED! Even before we started brewing, IMBC was a trip we made together, so it seemed like the perfect setting to pop the question on the balcony overlooking Room 1.

What is your current brewing setup and what are your plans for the future?

We are still cuckoo brewing 10bbl batches at the moment but hope to have our own place and tap room in the not too distant future!

Tell us about your oil projections and how they compliment your beer

Our name and all of our artwork is based on the psychedelic liquid light projections which started appearing in the 1960s. We’ve always had a deep love of the music and artwork of the 60s and 70s so it was just the natural direction our branding went in. We use a unique blend of oils and dyes mixed with water, projected through vintage equipment. Photos of these projections then become the base for each design.

Where can we find Liquid Light beers?

Far and wide! Since IMBC we’ve exported, however closer to home we have great customers in most major cities. In our hometown, we even have some permanent lines installed in a few pubs!

How is the Nottingham beer scene? Where should visitors to the city head?

We love Nottingham and are so proud to call it our home! It also helps we have so many amazing breweries making delicious beers and everyone is so friendly. Our recommendations for anyone visiting the city centre would be the Canalhouse, Barley Twist, Junkyard & Brew Cavern to name just a few!

Thanks for taking the time, we look forward to seeing you at every session of IMBC 19!

The Thirsty Games 2019


The Thirsty Games is IMBC’s competition to find the best small and upcoming breweries operating in the UK today.

From nationwide submissions we will pick the best three entrants to make up the Thirsty Games contenders at IMBC 19 (3rd – 6th October 2019, Victoria Baths). Each chosen brewery will pour their beers at every session of IMBC 19. You, the beerholder, will then vote on your favourite brewery across the length of the festival alongside our guest panel and the brewery with the most favour will be crowned the winner of The Thirsty Games 2019.

This is the fourth year of The Thirsty Games. Previous Thirsty Games winners are Liquid Light (2018), Burning Soul (2017), and Fivecloud Brew Co (2016).


The entrants should be 10bbl single brew length or under in size, or a brewery operating on a cuckoo basis in the UK.

The entrants should have been producing beer for less than 24 months.

The entrants should have their beer on general sale and be duty paid.


We want to sample your A-game beers. Send us your most interesting and creative samples.

Send a minimum of two cans / bottles per beer entered. Please send no more than three different beers.

The beer you send should feature at least one beer that you would pour at IMBC 19.



All samples must reach Port Street Beer House, 39-41 Port St, Manchester M1 2EQ by 12th August 2018.

The chosen three Thirsty Games finalists will be announced shortly afterwards.


The victorious brewery of The Thirsty Games 2018 will win…

A featured brewery pitch at IMBC 20 pouring their beers at each and every session rubbing shoulders with some of the best breweries in the world.

Plus more prizes to be announced.

IMBC 19 Tickets on sale Tuesday 4th June 2019

Tickets go on general sale Tuesday 4th June 2019 at 8pm

We’re back with four-day celebration of beers from here, there and everywhere at Victoria Baths, Manchester, Thursday 3rd – Sunday 6th October 2019.

Pick up your tickets HERE.

For your exclusive chance to pick up LIMITED PRE-SALE TICKETS head to Port Street Beer House or The Beagle on Tuesday 4th June at 6pm to pick up EARLY BIRD TICKETS two hours before their general release at 8pm.

Both Port Street Beer House and The Beagle will be launching TWO IMBC 19 COLLABORATION BEERS with WYLAM as well hosting IMBC 19 brewery sponsors on their taps.

IMBC 19 artwork by Kate Prior.


Independent Manchester Beer Convention 2019
3rd – 6th October 2019
Victoria Baths, Manchester


Thursday 3rd October: 17.30-22.30 | £10 + booking fee

Friday 4th October Day Session: 11.00-16.00 | £10 + booking fee

Friday 4th October Evening Session: 17.30-22.30 | £15 + booking fee

Saturday 5th October Day Session: 11.00-16.00 | £15 + booking fee

Saturday 5th October Evening Session: 17.30-22.30 | £15 + booking fee

Sunday 6th October: 13.00-18.00 | £10 + booking fee

Tickets on general sale at 8pm Tuesday 4th June 2019 via

Ones to Watch | IMBC 18

Soon we shall be depositing the full beer list for IMBC 18 – both in written form and in actual physical BEER FORM at Victoria Baths. In the meantime, we asked IMBC 18 beer pickers James, Matt and Scott to pick THREE beers each that they’re particularly looking forward to at this year’s festival. Feast on…

Matt Gorecki, IMBC

The Veil x Cloudwater – Chubbles III The Promised Land

Chubbles is pretty much what this style aught to be, BIG and complex and hoppy as hell and juicy as nobodies business. So many NEIPAs are very one dimensional and are kinda getting boring but I expect great things from this as the previous iterations have been tip-top. 

The Kernel – Bramling Cross Wet Hop Table Beer

I love Bramling Cross and seeing a UK based green hop beer on the list is a great sign as they’re still pretty rare in the UK and rly aught to be less rare, Kernel are an all time favourite of course and are kinda the go to brewery to find out where stuff is heading and what the best use of particular hops is. Always killer beers and always super chill/anti hype. Their tasting on Sunday shouldn’t be missed!

Buxton – Keller Bier OR Jester King Snorkel

Whuut – Buxton have forged forwards recently with a raft of new beers alongside the established bangers and ice cream omni-pillow crowd pleasers, seeing a new kellerbier on the list kinda gets my attention bc I’ve had a fun time this year rediscovering lager and you know Buxton are gonna smash it right??? Soft murky keller bier yes pls. Oh and OK I’m breaking the rules but Snorkel was a stand out beer when we last had Jester King over (Ed: IMBC 2016) – smoked sea salt and oyster mushroom?? VERY IndyMan as some would say…

James Moffat, IMBC

Pomona Island – Second Toughest In The Infants

Pomona Island have been making some of the best beer in Manchester (they’re technically from Salford but shhh) this year. They’ve been a mainstay on the taps at Port Street since starting up and have simply been getting better and better. This is a light, simple Table Beer thats been heavily hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic and Chinook, it’s the perfect way to start a session at IMBC. Probably the best named beer on this years list too.

Verdant – Don’t Fear The Ferryman (Bourbon Barrel Aged)

I was lucky enough to try this straight from the barrel when we went down to brew Armbands (Ed: IMBC x Verdant 2018 collaboration) earlier this year. It’s absolutely spot on! A big old imperial stout thats picked up loads of vanilla and tobacco notes from the barrel. Verdant are obviously more known for their hoppy beers but this is proof that they can turn their hands to anything.

Wylam – The Shape

Wylam head to Haddonfield. I had to pick this beer, it’s named after one of the best film antagonists of all time. I’m hoping Wylam are planning on playing a load of John Carpenter soundtracks while it’s pouring. Anyway, the beer, The Shape is a DDH IPA with Idaho 7, Centennial Cryo and Chinook BBC, pouring for the first time at IMBC alongside their new DIPA Freak Magnet. Both will be excellent, get one, queue up again while drinking it and go straight in for the other.

Scott Kenneth Jackson, IMBC

Jester King – Fēn Táo

When Jester King first came to Indy Man back in 2016, the whole team was struck, not just by how great their beers were, but also by how genuinely lovely these guys are! We’re all super looking forward to having them back this year, and to drinking some more of their top-level sour beers. For me, though, it’s all about this guy. Fēn Táo is a barrel-aged wild ale which has been refermented with three different varieties of Hill Country peaches, which were taken straight from the orchard, macerated by hand and added straight into the base beer (Das Überkind) in an effort to embrace as much of the terroir of the fruit as possible. I’m so excited about this beer that, when the doors open on Thursday, you’ll find me at Jester King’s bar, first in line, glass in hand, “One third of Fēn Táo, please.”

Squawk – Barrel-Aged Series

Squawk are absolutely killing it at the minute. The cask champions of Manchester, everything they do, regardless of the container, is absolutely brilliant! One such beer is Corvus, which is not only the best stout I’ve had in a long time, but also a strong contender for one of my top 5 beers of 2018. With that accolade under their belt, and my expectations through the roof, I’m particularly keen to see what the brewery’s recent foray into barrel-ageing has produced. At Indy Man, you’ll find a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Chocolate Milk Stout and a Red Wine Belgian Dubbel, each dropping at different points during Squawk’s four-day occupation of Room 3. Mark these beers on your app, turn on your push notifications and get ready to throw some shapes in the Party Room as you sink third after third of these (semi) reasonably percentaged BA bad boys.

Other Half – Double Sunset Imperial Stout

And speaking of “reasonably percentaged” it wouldn’t be a list of SKJ recommendations without at least one stupidly strong, potentially festival-ending imp stout. On this list, that slot is occupied by Double Sunset, a mysterious (and completely un-Googleable) offering from New York dank masters, Other Half. Anyone who attended last year’s Indy Man will remember the hype around these guys – people queuing around the block of their Brooklyn-based brewery, just for the chance to walk away with a tinny of double-dry-hopped, dank, juicy goodness. So why Double Sunset? Why not one of their already established and much-loved double or triple IPAs? Well, I’m not going to lie, the fact this this beer has zero Internet presence is part of it – at this point it’s appearance on Untappd is rarer than than a Kanye follow-back. The main reason, though, is that I already know Other Half can do big, flavoursome IPAs. We all know that. They’re great. Instead, let’s see what these guys can do with this equally big, equally flavoursome style. Something amazing, I’ll bet.

IMBC 18 
4th – 7th October 2018, Victoria Baths, Manchester
TICKETS for Thursday 4th and Sunday 7th sessions are available HERE.