Meet Ben, head brewer and co-founder of Heaps Normal
Not one to step away from the technical challenge and intricacies (aka blood, sweat, and tears) of brewing alcohol-free craft beer, Ben from Heaps Normal lifts the lid on just how he made the leap to create a taste that rival’s beer, without the hangover. After already successfully brewing beer-as-you-know-it for over a decade, the reason why the non-alcoholic beer venture began may surprise you.
Give us some background on yourself:
Hi I’m Ben, the head brewer and co-founder of Heaps Normal. I’ve been brewing for the last decade at some of Australia’s best known craft breweries. After many discussions around our drinking culture and the increasing realisation that there were no real options out there for people wanting to drink less, Pete, Andy and Myself decided to create Heaps Normal. We wanted to create a real alternative so that taking a night off the booze doesn’t have to mean staying home. We hope people will enjoy our beer in the same ways and on the same occasions they drink normal beer.
Why have you decided to move to alcohol-free beers?
There are lots of reasons for this one. What started as a technical challenge of brewing an alcohol-free beer that tastes as good as beer grew into something more meaningful. Coming from a craft background meant taste was super important to me, and for the product to actually work people needed to like it. I spent a lot of time working on and refining the recipe and process until we reached a point where we were all happy with it. I think having real alcohol-free options in the market is a small way to contribute to a positive change to our drinking culture.
What were the benefits you gained from lowering your alcohol intake?
This is a good one. I guess it is kind of hard to explain feeling better because you tend to normalise the way you feel regardless of how good or bad that is. I definitely feel like I have become more productive and focussed.
Do you still drink alcohol sometimes?
Yes, I still enjoy the odd drink. I have definitely cut back a bit and become more mindful of my drinking habits.
How have people reacted when you decided to drink alcohol-free beer?
It has been a real mix of reactions to be honest. Some people have been really supportive, others a little put out and some people, at least at first, did not see the point at all. Thankfully more and more people are coming around to the fact that alcohol-free beers can be just as flavoursome as normal beers.
What is your favourite alcohol-free craft beer?
Is it wrong to say Heaps Normal? Haha. I think Sobah have done a great job with their beers. They are super interesting from a flavour perspective and I think that is important for the diversity in our industry.
Where do you usually enjoy your alcohol-free craft beers?
I usually have a knock off alcohol-free beer at home or at my local during the week. If I’m out with friends I’ll have a normal beer and back it up with a non-alcoholic beer. For me, drinking has always been about the social aspect so being able to enjoy those occasions is where I most enjoy drinking alcohol-free beers.
Finally, to whom would you recommend making this choice?
Heaps Normal is brewed for people who love a beer but want to drink less (or more, depending on how you look at it)! It is a full flavoured XPA naturally brewed in the same way and with the same ingredients as other craft beers.
Read our blog post THE TOP 10 REASONS WHY NON ALCOHOLIC BEER IS HERE TO STAY answering a trending topic "Why is non alcoholic beer booming in popularity and facing increased demand across a multitude of age groups?"