It's not too much to ask is it: a hoppy beer while watching a band?
As much as craft beer continues to make inroads into everyday parts of our lives, music festivals – particularly the big one-dayers – still tend to serve up pretty poor choices when it comes to what's pouring at the bar.
For Marty Keetels, whose passion for music equals that for craft beer, it was a situation he'd long wanted to change.
When it comes to music, his passion for bands stretches back to when he and brother Johnno – who works in the music industry – started heading to gigs when Marty was 17. It was around that time Marty started seeking out whatever new beers he could find too. Over time, this led to him launching a beer-meets-music festival.
By 2014, Marty had left his life as a lawyer behind (in the most comically unlikely of manners) and launched Beer InCider in Brisbane. It was back when the beer world was a rather different place, particularly in Brisbane, when many of the best-loved Queensland breweries of today had only just opened their doors or were ideas on a drawing board – if that.
"It was just 15 breweries in a carpark at a race club with a music stage on a piece of grass," Marty recalls. "But [beer and music] have always been complementary parts of the festival; we had people come in that are really passionate about the music and discover the beer and then people come in that really passionate about the beer find out about the music."
Of course, the combination of beer and live music (not to mention other forms of entertainment) is commonplace at festivals around Australia. Where Beer InCider stands out is the bands and artists it books, typically not those seen at other beer events and thus able to draw in crowds from further outside the beer bubble.
Since those early days, the festival has expanded considerably, moving to the Brisbane Showgrounds in 2017, attracting well over 20,000 across two days in September 2018 and, now, launching a second Brisbane event in March accompanied by an expansion into Melbourne for the first time this year.
Marty says the growth has helped them connect with more people, but insists the fundamentals have remained the same.
"It's just about creating a fun experience," he says. "I've always thought that good beer and good music facilitates that.
"Get really good quality drink in the hand of someone listening to a really quality band and the rest kind of takes care of itself."
In 2017, Marty added another beer event to his schedule by launching The Beeries, a festival dedicated to celebrating the beer community in South East Queensland. Whereas most beer awards focus on awarding medals for beers and those who brew them, The Beeries trains its focus on the personalities and those doing good in the beer world – and diverts some of its takings to Brewsvegas, the city's long-running, not-for-profit beer week.
"It's just a room full of people, working in the same industry, who share the same passion, getting to get together and celebrating each other," Marty says.
Before the March's double dose of Beer InCider kicks off, we invited Marty to tell his story as part of our Craft Beer Heroes series...
How do you fit into the wonderful world that is craft beer in Australia?
I’m the founder of Beer InCider Experience and The Beeries but I’m also a massive fan of craft beer. I love drinking it, sharing it and talking about it.
What drew you to work in beer?
I grew up going to festivals and I grew increasingly sick of having to drink horrible beer. I thought I’d start my own that celebrated beer and matched it with music and food.
How long have you been promoting beer in your own particular way?
Almost seven years.
What was the first ever job you had in the beer world?
Same job as I have now. Both events are just a bit bigger than when they started.
As Wayne Coyne, of The Flaming Lips, once pondered: “Why does it matter?”
I like to say we connect beer with people. We do this in a fun way that includes awesome live music, great food and ping pong (heaps of ping pong).
We’re also one of the very few events in Australia that only works with independently-owned breweries and cideries; we do this because it’s the right thing to do – independent breweries and cideries build communities.
What's been your proudest / happiest moment as a craft beer advocate?
I feel privileged our festivals have launched craft breweries in the past. For example, in 2016 we launched Aether Brewing. Dave, Jimmy and Annie have since become great friends.
Describe your craft beer utopia.
More independent craft on tap at non beer bars!
Water, malt, hops or yeast?
If you had one minute in which to convert someone to craft beer, how would you spend it?
I’d have a beer with them.
And if you had three beers with which to convert someone, what would they be?
Green Beacon 7 Bells Passionfruit Gose, Hop Nation The Heart Pale Ale and Brouhaha’s Milk Stout.
What about three songs to convert someone to local, Australian music?
“In The Air” by DMA’S, “Monsters” by Something For Kate and “Not Worth Hiding” by Alex The Astronaut.
What a coincidence they’re all playing at Beer InCider on March 2 at the Melbourne Showgrounds and March 9 at the Brisbane Showgrounds!
To see the full lineup of bands, brewers and cider makers at Beer InCider - or to grab some tickets - you can head here. If you're quick, you can also get your hands on a pair of tickets to the Melbourne leg worth $120 by signing up to The Crafty Pint's beer lovers bonus scheme, The Crafty Cabal, here.
And you can check out past Craft Beer Heroes features here.