It’s been far from a typical week for Canberra-born non-alcoholic beer brewing company Heaps Normal. The young company took out the ‘Embracing Innovation’ and ‘Outstanding Growth’ categories at the Telstra Business Awards on Monday (14 February).
The win comes less than a month after the release of ‘Another Lager’, the second product of the Heaps Normal brand, and less than three months after the business announced it had raised $8.5 million from prominent startup investors.
According to Heaps Normal’s co-founder and head of brand Peter Brennan, the company is “over the moon” with the victory.
“We got a call yesterday from one of the directors just breaking the news that we won two categories and for us, it’s testament to the hard work that the team has put in over the last two years since we’ve launched,” said Mr Brennan.
“We’re super grateful that people are getting behind what we are doing.
“We’ve taken on a beer category that has been operating the way it has for a very long time and we’ve really challenged that as a sub-category within the alcohol industry,” he said.
One of their deliberate tactics in starting the business was never to preach sobriety or that alcohol was the devil. They wanted to create a drink people could enjoy if they wanted to wake up with a “clear head” the next day or if they were driving that night, as well as filling a void of quality non-alcoholic beer for those planning to be sober for life.
Mr Brennan believes that approach, combined with the quality of product created by head brewer Benny Holdstock, is part of the “sum of all parts” that has led to their impressive rise.
“With the bigger non-alcoholic beer companies, for example, they take the alcohol out at the end of the brewing process. The problem with that is, as you can imagine, that it sucks a lot of the flavour out,” he said.
“We’ve innovated on the yeast which micro-ferments to 0.5% and anything that’s 0.5% is classified as non-alcoholic.”
Heaps Normal will now focus on cementing its position as the country’s number one dedicated non-alcoholic beer producer. A brewery in inner-west Sydney is the next step for the company after brew partner Bricklane helped them refine a homebrew made in the kitchen to a production-sized brew. The brewery will be split into two, half as production and half as a hospitality destination.
“We’ve been very open that we’ve contract brewed from day one and we’ve built a beer company the backwards way, I suppose,” said Mr Brennan.
“Now, part of the strategy of building our brewery is to have a brand home. The business was built during the middle of COVID so everyone has been working at home since day one, which has had its pros and cons, as you could imagine.
“We’re looking forward to having our own home and somewhere that’s kind of a destination for people to come and hang out and experience the brand a bit more,” he said.
The company has no plans to produce an alcohol product but will serve alcoholic beers at their brewery, repaying the favour of some of the other Sydney breweries that serve their products. Mr Brennan said it’s just one of the exciting things in the works to make it different from other craft breweries.