Since it launched in mid-2020, Heaps Normal has fast become one of Australia's go-to non-alcoholic beer brands. In 2021, its flagship Quiet XPA – a hoppy and floral brew that tastes just like its more boozed-up counterparts – took out Australia's best low and no-alcohol beer at the World Beer Awards. It followed that up with a debut appearance at number 20 on the GABS Hottest 100 – the influential end-of-year Australian craft beer ranking.
These days, you're just as likely to see a Heaps Normal in the fridge at your local as you are on the drinks list at one of Australia's best restaurants – Sydney's Ormeggio at the Spit, Brisbane's Hellenika and a little restaurant in Melbourne called Attica are all fans.
With all that success, expectations for Heaps Normal's second beer have been high. Last week, Heaps Normal announced and released its newest non-alcoholic beer: Another Lager. It's a lager in the same tradition as Australian staples like Victoria Bitter, Toohey's New and Carlton Draught – just sans alcohol.
"Lagers – even alcoholic versions – are hard to brew," says Heaps Normal co-founder and head brewer Ben Holdstock (formerly of Sydney's The Grifter and Four Pines). "It's a subtle style so there's nothing to hide behind – it was important to get that classic, really, clean, crisp and refreshing profile."
Any concerns about a sophomore slump can safely be set aside: Heaps Normal has nailed it again. Like the Quiet XPA before it, Another Lager doesn't just taste good: it tastes just like its alcoholic brethren. You'd happily bring a couple of these down to the beach for a sundowner, or order one at happy hour at the bowls club. It's pretty uncanny how much it tastes like any other lager.
According to Holdstock, when you think about the "beer" taste, you're probably thinking about the taste of a lager.
"Lager is at the epicentre of beer culture in a way," he says. "It's crazy, every country has a lager – it's the beer that everyone associates with beer."
"So the more I thought about [brewing a lager], the more I related it straight to our mission of changing drinking culture; making a beer that really appeals to people that may not have thought about non-alcs before."
Part of Heaps Normal achieving that mission is getting more beers out, and offering a wider range. It's looking to open its own brewery in Sydney later on this year, where they'll be able to showcase their product and brew more beers – in more styles – than ever.