Marty Keetels, founder, Beer InCider Experience
We make decisions based on authenticity and fun. Every time we need to make a tricky decision, we come back to those two words ...
Making a career change is always a big deal, and for Marty Keetels (pictured right) it was quite a jump indeed. Back in 2013, Marty made the transition from a promising career in law to the sudsy pastures of Brisbane’s burgeoning boutique beer scene, and he’s never looked back. A year after taking the plunge, Marty kicked off the very first edition of The Beer InCider Experience – a frothy celebration of local independent brewing and live music. The festival proved to be an instant success, and has grown substantially over the years to become one of the most anticipated events on the food and drink calendar. The next iteration of The Beer InCider Experience is taking place on September 20 and 21, bringing together dozens of phenomenal brewers, a fleet of food trucks and a cadre of Australia’s best live-music acts. Ahead of the malty madness, we spoke to Marty about his early risk taking, his thoughts on the contemporary brewing scene and what we can expect from this year’s event.
Leaving a lucrative career as an in-house counsel to gallivant across Europe on a beer odyssey must have been thrilling and terrifying in equal amounts. What really encouraged you to ditch the security in favour of this lifestyle and career change?
I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I saw creating a business that I believed in as a logical next step in my professional development and I’m really glad I made the decision. I’ve enjoyed every minute of creating The Beer InCider Experience, learnt so many things and I’m incredibly excited by what the future holds.
Through your travels on this European beer vacation, what did you discover about the world of brewing that hadn’t yet been adopted in Australia?
This was back in 2013 and the Australian craft brewing movement was in its infancy. There weren’t really any festivals that celebrated the diversity and flavour of the craft beer industry in Australia. I knew there was an opportunity and I went about creating an experience that is authentic and fun.
The launch of Beer InCider came right at the start of Brisbane’s craft beer renaissance – what were you seeing in the industry that gave you the idea of bringing like-minded craft beer lovers together for a day of celebration?
I wanted to attend a festival that celebrated good beer in Brisbane. I knew there must be others that shared my passion for beer and the industry. I took a gamble that the market would grow and that the number of people drinking good beer would also grow. Looking back, I was right and my timing was pretty good.
What has been your approach to building the festival year on year to reflect the rapidly growing craft beer industry, but still keeping it grounded and true to its roots as a community-oriented experience?
We make decisions based on authenticity and fun. Every time we need to make a tricky decision, we come back to those two words. Another way we’ve stayed true to our community is only working with independently owned breweries and cider makers. We do this because we feel passionately that independent brewers provide our patrons with new flavours and interesting experiences.
What elements are you introducing to the festival this time around that you are really excited about?
I’m very excited by our exclusive brews. These are beers that have been created for the festival. For example, Soapbox Beer is bringing a banana milkshake hefe, Aether Brewing has a mango sticky rice IPA and Burleigh Brewing has a ruby cherry sour pouring. I’m also super excited by our music line up. Headlined by Hockey Dad, Thundamentals and Ruby Fields, it’s our best line up yet.
Judging solely on the number of breweries opening in South East Queensland, it seems as if our local craft beer scene is as strong as it’s ever been. What do you think is the best aspect of the local beer industry as it stands, and where do you think it can be improved?
In my opinion, the best part of the industry is the people that it attracts. Genuine and interesting people seem to gravitate towards the beer community in the south east corner. I’m attending The Beeries on Thursday night to celebrate those people and the industry. Beer quality and consistency is an area in which we can improve – that will happen. As more people drink craft beer, brewers will be able to invest more into technology and equipment to ensure the drinker receives a great experience every time they drink a beer.
Finally, what beer in your current sipping rotation would you recommend to folks looking for something to try next time they’re browsing the bottle shop shelves?
Sours and gose are beer varieties that will serve you well over a Brisbane summer. Generally lighter in taste and alcohol content than your average pale ale, these beers – when well brewed – will have you visiting good bottle shops over and over again!
The Beer InCider Experience is returning to the Brisbane Showgrounds on the night of Friday September 20 and on Saturday September 21. The event will feature performances from Thundamentals, Briggs, Jesswar, Hockey Dad, Ruby Fields, Dear Seattle and more. Get your tickets here.