How do you go from practising law to running a craft-beer festival? For Marty Keetels, it involved a 2013 summer’s evening at London’s iconic Meantime Brewery.
“I was sitting there, having a paddle of beer,” he explains. “And the idea came to me that there wasn’t a festival in Brisbane that featured a lot of craft beer. I pretty much came home to Australia, quit my job and started the festival.”
The result was the Beer InCider Experience, a two-day festival that in mid-September once again takes over Albion Park Raceway, north-east of the city. The 2016 event will feature an impressive 30 brewers, both local and international, peddling 150 different beers, as well as musical entertainment from the likes of Josh Pyke and Holy Holy. Additionally, this year, one $30 ticket gets you into both days of the festival.
Held upon the concourse of the storied Albion Park Raceway, with passing trot races and all, it neatly offsets Brisbane’s other major beer festival – the expansive Brewsvegas, in March. “That’s a venue-led festival,” Keetels says. “This is different. We offer everything in the one place. It’s more about creating a fantastic day out.”
The current craze for craft beer arguably wouldn’t be what it is without the accompanying craze for food vans. Beer InCider will pack 12 different vans into the middle of the raceway, including King of the Wings, That BBQ Joint, Pizzantica and The Bone Lorry. “They’re a really important part of the event,” Keetels says. “People have their favourites, of course, but more from a logistical perspective, they can serve a lot of people in a short period of time.”
As for Keetels, he still does a bit of legal work on the side, and consults for a Singapore-based innovation centre. Otherwise, though, it’s all beer: “We’re definitely working on the festival all year round now,” he says.