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Beer Expert Martin Keetels Spills The Secrets Of The Best Aussie Breweries

Beer Expert Martin Keetels Spills The Secrets Of The Best Aussie Breweries

New independent breweries are popping up all the time all over Australia – a new one every six days, on average. This is a great thing for beer lovers, especially those who travel. Some of the best Aussie breweries are serving up experiences worth the trip, like craft tours, exclusive cellar-door brews and quality meals to match.

Beer expert and fan Martin Keetels believes in drinking local to support independent breweries (they are, usually, the best Aussie breweries anyway) and the communities around them. Beer lovers who visit small distilleries can get a double buzz – from the beer itself and the knowledge that supporting small operations helps keep them alive and experimenting.

Martin took this philosophy to a whole other level in 2012 when he founded the Beer InCider Experience, held in Brisbane each September. It’s a festival that brings together the best Aussie breweries and cider makers as well as bands and food (and a rumoured ping-pong arena?). Patrons can meet the brewers and learn how each one is made.


The growth in the festival from 2500 people in 2014 to nearly 20,000 people in 2108 shows the incredible growth in appreciation of craft beer and cider. Because of this popularity, the festival has added two dates in Melbourne and Brisbane in March (in addition to the usual two-day September event). Indie icons DMAs and Something for Kate are set to take the stage at both events.


In the spirit of beer appreciation, Martin gave AWOL his top suggestions for the best beer experiences around Australia – and you can catch them all at the upcoming Beer InCider Experience events.

Hop Nation

Footscray, Victoria


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“Founded by good mates Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson, the Hop Nation brewery and tap room is based in the burgeoning beer metropolis of Footscray, Victoria. Sam and Duncan ensure the brewery lives up to its namesake by creating hop-forward beers that are beautifully balanced. From its delicious New England IPA ‘Jedi Juice’ to its refreshing Mango Gose ‘The Punch’, the young winemakers-turned-brewers experiment with flavours and ingredients with great results. My advice – enjoy the IPA ‘The Chop’.”

Willie Smiths

Huon Valley, Tasmania

Best Aussie Breweries

Willie Smiths has been growing apples on its farm in Tasmania’s Huon Valley since 1888. However, it wasn’t until Andrew Smith met Sam Reid in 2011 that the property began developing some of Australia’s best ciders. The farmer and cider experts have developed a relationship that is redefining the Australian cider industry and the way Australians perceive the drink. They are pioneers of ciders that use real fruit that is intended to be enjoyed and paired with food. Goodbye, deathly sweet ciders made on concentrate. Try the Bone Dry Apple Cider.”


Dandenong South, Victoria


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“Made by three self-proclaimed ‘giant dorks’, KAIJU! lives up to its name, which means ‘strange monster’ in Japanese. After home-brewing for about a decade, Clara, Nat and Callum decided to stop brewing for house parties and instead create a brewery known for its “devastatingly good” beers in Dandenong South, Victoria.

“With the best artwork of any brewery in the southern hemisphere, created by NYC-based illustrator Mikey Burton, and perhaps the best Black IPA I’ve ever tasted in their Cthulu.”

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Young Henrys

Newtown, Sydney, NSW

Best Aussie Breweries

“Newtown is known for its hipster flair and this Sydney brewery fits right in. Like all good stories, the Young Henrys tale started over a beer. Meeting on opposite sides of the bar, Richard Adamson and Oscar McMahon got talking and found they both shared a love of beer and a view that the Sydney beer scene should be more adventurous, innovative and fun. If you haven’t tried it already, grab a Newtowner, an Australian Pale Ale made with Galaxy, Gascade and Vic Secret hops.”

Mornington Peninsula Brewery

Mornington, Victoria


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“It was the Hawthorn Premiership of 2008 that brought neighbours Matt Bebe and Malcolm McLean together. While celebrating over a few cold ones, talk turned to beer and the pair discussed visions for a new brewery. Maps were poured over for possible locations; beer types, names and possible labels were bandied about. Since then, Mornington Peninsula Brewery has been brewing some of Australia’s best beers. Their Pale Ale and IPA are some of my favourites but I suggest you grab a Hop Culture.”


If you want to taste all of these beers, plus experience more than 50 of the best Aussie breweries and cideries in one place, Beer InCider Experience has you covered. You can get tickets here.

Book your accommodation and flights with Qantas to begin your next adventure.

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