Aside from a few exceptions, the majority of alcohol-free beers brewed today are side projects, created by companies adding them to an existing, alcohol-based portfolio. But, with the popularity of low- and non-alcoholic products growing rapidly, it was only a matter of time before we started to see companies dedicated entirely to the cause.
Enter Heaps Normal, a soon-to-be-launched Sydney enterprise consisting of four mates who met through the brewing industry.
“We all felt the same way, that there was, even amongst mates, a social pressure to always be drinking,” says CEO Andy Miller. “We wanted to create an option for those who still enjoy a beer, but don’t want to drink all the time.”
Andy is joined by experienced brewer Ben Holdstock, entrepreneur/designer Pete Brennan and surfer Jordy Smith, who acts as the ambassador for their brand. Despite their varied backgrounds, all have a reason to stay clear from booze.
“Jordy was off it to try and win another world title, Pete has grown up the shadow of alcohol abuse in his family,” Andy explains. “But, we’re conscious not to alienate people who still enjoy a beer. Everyone’s relationship with alcohol is different.”
Heaps Normal’s first offering is Quiet XPA, an accessible option for all palates, which launches on Friday (July 31). Although this may appear to miss the boat for Dry July, the date was chosen to continue to generate interest around alcohol-free offerings even one the month-long event has finished, the idea being to allow drinkers to create their own new normal.
Once the success of the first beer has been gauged, there are plans to add plenty more styles to the range. But, it’s certain to say that none of those will feature alcohol.
In Andy’s words: “We’re not an alcohol-company with a non-alcoholic offering, we’re a dedicated non-alcoholic beer company. It’s important to make that distinction so that the culture we generate knows that we, as individuals, fully stand behind the benefits of non-alcoholic beer.”
As they prepare to launch, we invited them to be part of our ongoing Who Brews...? series.
Who are you?
Heaps Normal began in 2019 with four mates coming together to tackle a common goal – enjoying a beer, without the downsides. We are:
- Ben Holdstock – head brewer and the brains behind some of your favourite independent beers to hit the market in the last decade
- Pete Brennan – award-winning designer, entrepreneur and our head of brand
- Andy Miller – CEO, who’s had a hand in the rapid growth of several Australian craft beer brands in the last five years.
- Jordy Smith – brand ambassador, pro surfer and Olympian who’s been off the booze in the pursuit of another world title. He also happens to be a childhood friend of Pete’s.
Over months of trials – and, yes, failures – we designed an entirely new recipe and brewing process to produce an alcohol-free beer that stands proudly alongside any other brew.
Where do you brew?
We currently brew in partnership with our mates at Brick Lane in Victoria. But we’re planning on building our own brewery in the nation’s capital. Aside from the acres of space that give it the moniker “bush capital”, we reckon it’s also a bit like Switzerland when it comes to territorial rivalries.
Why do you brew?
Brewing is fun. But it is also a super challenging and rewarding experience – creating something unique and delicious that people enjoy from a combination of different ingredients. There is also an endless amount of things to learn and try in craft brewing so it keeps you pretty engaged.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Finding a recipe for a scrumpy in an old cookbook and attempting to ferment it. It failed completely but it really began my interest in brewing and fermenting. There weren't many Australian craft beers around at the time so I would have to pick Little Creatures Pale Ale.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
When it comes to how much alcohol is the right amount, it’s not a one pint fits all scenario. Everyone has their own normal. We reckon whether you’re sober as a judge or just taking a night off, you’re with us on the journey towards more mindful drinking.
We believe great tasting beer and normalising a more mindful drinking culture should be heaps normal.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
We’re happy to share our playlist with you – bit.ly/heapsnormal
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Capital Summit XPA, Cervisiam Designated Driver, Grifter Horses Head.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
The Grifter’s Kiss From a Rose and Helles Lager are both cracking beers that I’ve tried in the last week. Philter XPA is always good as well.
Where can people find your beers?
We’ve had an amazing response from independent bottleshops around the country. Find us in the fridge at your forward-thinking local haunts. Check heapsnormal.com for a full stockists list.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Putting Australia on the map in the growing international market of non-alcoholic beers. We’ll have a solid core range of non-alcoholic beer styles and an exciting back catalogue of experimental limited releases.
You can find more entries in our Who Brews...? series here.