I suspect the majority of people who either follow or are followed by @macchomebrew know about the Independent Manchester Beer Festival, and if not, wooooah where have you been? But I suspect only a small proportion of people have ever considered volunteering to get behind the scenes and help set up or serve beer to make things happen.
@mikmonken is one of those people who thought it might be a good idea to do it, so in 2015 he volunteered for a double shift on the Thursday, setting up during the day and then serving beer in the evening, he had so much fun he did it again this year.
The original idea was to create a running log of what went on during the day sadly those plans quickly went the way of the his brew days and himself being massively disorganised and generally forgetful that went to pot pretty quickly.. so technically the post should end here, but it’s Friday and to be honest you’ve got this far, you’re hooked so I’ll continue.
Volunteering at Indyman this year was a little bit more formal than the year before, there were some hurdles to jump, a small questionnaire to complete one of the questions asking what I could bring to Indyman, I’m already thinking about my answer for next year. A briefing evening (a free beer and mini quiz) where we discuss the requirements and rules, there was a no drinking whilst serving rule this year (fair enough) and to talk through the plans.
Next on to the day, well Thursday day is the day before it all kicks off, lots of little bits to finish and get sorted my day went a bit like this:
- Turn up
- Move and set up tables outside
- Move some benches into some rooms inside
- See fish, take photo, tweet Peter at Torrside
- Clean the blackboard behind the taps so that they’re ready for the lovely beers to be displayed
- Move volunteer t-shirts into the volunteer room and sort into sizes
- Cut all the tickets up for the days events (luckily found a guillotine) there was lots of cutting.
- Moving lots of glasses, and unpacking glasses into the entrance so that everyone of you lucky Thursday night visitors could get drinking ASAP
- Lunch – Really tasty Korean food from round the corner
- Sorting tokens for you lucky volunteers
- Run around snipping zip ties to make them safe less scratchy
- And general lugging and moving stuff.
Then onto the evening session heres where the fun starts:
- A whistle stop tour of the venue, health and safety, don’t serve drunks…
- Get dinner voucher “Almost Famous” nice
- Meet the brewers on your bar… I was lucky I had Tom and not brewer Josh from Fiveclouds and Ian from Maregade, sadly Keir of Wilde Child couldn’t make it.
- Taste some samples, I have to say Maregade Blonde Pale was my drink of the night, nice clean drinkable beer.
- Then around 6 hours of serving beer, and encouraging people to taste the beers and vote in the Thirsty Games, and talk to people about the beers. That’s the fun part.
- 00:00 everyone’s has gone wipe down, clean up and then head back home.
So that’s a whistle stop tour of my day, it doesn’t seem like a lot but including my walk from Piccadilly to the station I clocked up what I consider to be some pretty decent health app stats.
So why bother with all of this, well I love beer, and after my first visit to Indyman in 2014 I spoke to another longstanding volunteer Chris Clough who couldn’t speak more highly of volunteering and I thought hey what have a got to lose?
There are benefits to volunteering at Indyman and I won’t go into them in detail as I’m sure volunteers at other Beer Festivals will be different, and i don’t want to raise expectations too much, but in short we got a T-shirt, a free meals, some beer tokens and a free session. I also got to talk to the guys from Simply Hops in a relatively sober state and drop off a couple of beers for them brewed with some hops I won in a competition, and not to mentioned the to many many awesome brewers who have a lot of time for you.
There are some great festivals coming up soon and I’d hazard a guess they’ll be on the look out for hard working volunteers so keep a look out. On the whole volunteering is really rewarding, you get to see the prep that goes into these events, you’re treated really really well even once you’ve finished volunteering.
So Indyman if you’ll have me… see you next year.
If you’re running a beer festival and are in need of volunteers comment below for all to see or just google beer festivals UK and drop them an email.
Also a quick shout to Isla and Lou were great at keeping us in check and making sure we were all OK.