Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to join a great group of bloggers, foodies and journalists at the launch breakfast for the inaugural Beer InCider Experience – Brisbane’s first craft beer and cider festival to be held this coming weekend (20-21 September) at Albion Park Raceway! Treated to a morning filled with red and white checkered picnic rugs, muesli pots, fresh fruit, bagels and pastries, blissful sunshine, incredible live acoustics by local Brissy artist Hazlett, and alternating between freshly brewed cappuccinos from Wandering Man Espresso and a paddle of local ciders and brews, it was a brilliant sample taste of what’s to come.
By mid-morning we were fortunate to hear from Founder and Organiser of The Beer InCider Experience Marty Keetels, who spoke briefly about his craft beer and cider festival dream and the incredible gathering of local food, music and brew artisans this weekend has in store. Immediately, I wanted to know more and so caught up with Marty in the lead up to event kickoff to find out just how this project came about and where he hopes to take it…
Marty, I first have to ask – where on earth did you come up with the idea for a craft beer and cider festival? How did The Beer InCider Experience come about and how long have you been working on it for?
I was enjoying a paddle of craft beers in London with a good friend. I was really impressed with the flavours of the beers. I remember thinking “how good would it be if people could try all of their favourite craft beers in one location”. I quit my job and started organising the Beer InCider Experience. That was in June 2013 so I’ve been working on it for 15 months now.
It’s such a genius idea – can you give us a brief summary of The Beer InCider Experience and what it promises to deliver? What can we expect this weekend?
Thank you! It’s a festival of great beers and ciders, gourmet food, live music and burlesque. We’re all about local and the community. Our mottos are “Drink Local, Support Local“. We’ve hand picked each contributor to the festival. Whether it’s a cider producer or a burlesque act, we’ve sought out who we think are the best and got them along. We’ve basically tried to create the type of festival we would enjoy going to.
Can you share a bit more about your professional history? Have you always been in the hospitality/events profession?
No, not at all. I am a lawyer by trade who has experience in sales and management. I love events – they are a microcosm of a business. They require good people and careful management.
Going from being a lawyer and a national sales manager to events and hospitality seems like quite a significant career change! Has it always been your dream to launch something like this?
I’ve always wanted to work for myself and when I thought of this festival I thought “I’ve finally found my calling!” I’m passionate about craft brews and about events. It’s a really good blend that excites me.
When was the exact moment you decided to take the leap? What made you decide to finally make the switch?
It was in May 2013 and I was sitting at my desk in Melbourne. I thought to myself, “I’m ready.” It was quite a definitive moment and I knew I had to act on it. It was me daring myself to take a risk. I haven’t regretted it one bit.
I imagine with an event like this there has been a massive team effort! Who couldn’t you have achieved this dream without?
I have an awesome team of supporters. In the office, this includes Alice, Shona, Jay and Amy. These guys support me every day and are interpreters of my often nonsensical directions. We work well together. Outside of the office, my family and friends have been great. They’ve all lived the dream with me so this festival is a really exciting time for all of us.
Is this your first foray into events? Has it been a long process? What has been the biggest lesson learnt from the whole experience?
Our Beer InCider Social Club has monthly events but this is the first really large event we’ve organised. We’ve been working really hard for a long time on this so I’m confident it is going to be great.
What piece of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs looking to start their own business/launch their own event?
Know your own skill set and your own limitations. Then find people who believe in you to fill those gaps. And enjoy yourself!
Are you Brisbane born and bred? What is it that made you decide to launch such a venture here? Do you find that Brisbane is more accessible and has more opportunity for growth than other cities?
I love Brisbane: the weather, the people. Here was the logical place for this business to start. It’s also where my support base is [and where I grew up] so it was a really logical decision for me to make.
What do you think of Brisbane’s food and hospitality scene? How do you think the landscape has changed over the past few years?
Brisbane’s food, coffee, beer and cider cultures are amazing. There are new and wonderful restaurants, cafes and breweries opening all the time. It’s so dynamic now compared to when I was growing up.
What is it that you love most about this city?
The people. They are relaxed and friendly.
Are you a beer and cider aficionado yourself? What local brews are your favourites?
I love beer and cider. There are so many and I couldn’t possibly name a favourite. I love to try new brews. It’s a passion of mine.
Speaking of which, where is your go to destination for Brisbane’s best:
Beer? The Scratch
Live music? The Tivoli
Ultimate foodie experience? My mum’s place.
[I have to insert here that Marg – Marty’s mum – catered for the breakfast launch and had everyone raving! Suggestion for you Marty – next year, Marg needs her own food truck/stall at the actual event.]
Providing all goes well this weekend (which I’m sure it will!) can we expect to see The Beer InCider Experience making a return appearance on the Brisbane events calendar?
It will definitely be back bigger and better next year. Count on it!
Do you hope to take Beer InCider further? Is growth into other states on the cards?
Never say never but I don’t think so. We’re really happy with it being a South East Queensland festival.
Can you share your plans for when Beer InCider wraps up? What’s next for you?
I’ve got a short term contract advising on an acquisition for a big company based in Tokyo. Then, early in 2015, Beer InCider will power up again!
Finally, what is your “number-one-cannot-miss” for this weekend?
[Again I have to inject and say I wholeheartedly agree! A matched beer and food experience featuring gourmet deliciousness like Juniper and hops infused brioche with pine-smoked king rainbow trout and juniper hollandaise, pickled onions and capers as well as a Chocolate and Crystal malt cookie sandwich with a caramelised white chocolate ganache and Amarillo hops core, I’m already salivating]
Interview by Mimi Hyll
Head down to Albion Park Raceway this Saturday and Sunday 20-21 September for an event never before seen in Brisbane before! If you’re a fan of all things local, love a good bevvy on a hot day and appreciate live entertainment and gourmet food The Beer InCider Experience promises to deliver it all.