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Industry laments loss of craft beer festival IMBC

The industry has responded to news that the Independent Manchester Beer Convention (Indy Man Beer Con/IMBC) event will not return for 2024.

The event, which has hosted craft breweries from the UK and overseas each year in Manchester’s Grade II listed Victoria Baths building, has become a destination for craft beer celebration and a big contributor to the dynamism and innovation behind the independent beer scene.

Revealing the decision to bring the event to a close, IMBC founder Jonny Hayes said in a statement this week: “The last 12 years have been an amazing journey, we’re proud to have brought something new and different to the craft beer market way back in 2012. It’s been a huge privilege to witness the UK craft beer scene blossom in front of our eyes, to work with so many fantastic breweries and witness their creativity, industry and growth. I am humbled that lots of people have taken a great deal of joy and satisfaction from the little event that we’ve spent over a decade putting on. I am beyond chuffed that you chose to spend your time with us deep in the pool at the incredible Victoria Baths.”

The industry, speaking on social media, lamented the news with many paying tributes to the efforts of the organisers in a show of gratitude for the event, its achievements and how it has set the bar for many beer festivals for the future.

Speaking to the founders, The Runaway Brewery said: “You changed the game (more than once), set the standard (yet to be matched) and helped redefine beer for a generation – what a legacy. Special thanks for supporting little breweries like ours along the way – being invited gave us such a thrill. Missing you already.”

Siren Craft Brew founder Darron Anley, highlighted how the IMBC team had created “THE iconic beer fest in the UK” and Brew Junction co-founder Emma Victory echoed this and pointed out that the team had “set a high bar for every other beer festival”.

Independent craft beer retailer Hop Burns & Black stated: “Wow, truly the end of an era. We’ll be pouring one out for IMBC tonight. Many, many great memories (albeit mostly rather fuzzy ones). Big thanks to all the people who helped make IndyMan one of the very best festivals on the calendar.”

While the team at IMBC has not said whether the event will return, or the reasons behind it coming to a close in 2024, there is speculation over the festival simply not making financial sense to continue. Amidst the cost-of-living crisis and while many craft breweries are facing challenges, there is the suggestion ever present on social channels as well as craft beer forums that without fiscal support, events such as these will not continue.

The news follows the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) recently having revealed the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) will also not be running in 2024.

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