A Sober Look at Fun with Andy Miller from Heaps Normal | #382

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Andy shares his playful approach to elevating alcohol free beer


Andy is the co-founder and CEO of Heaps Normal. With a background in strategy, communications and marketing, Andy came to Heaps Normal armed with 15 years of experience working in industries including FMCG, health, liquor, automotive, marketplaces and arts & music. After a five-year stint heading up marketing for some of the country’s best known craft beer brands, where he oversaw Y-o-Y growth, Andy co-founded Heaps Normal — a non-alcoholic beer brand on a mission to change Aussie drinking culture.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Andy Miller, CEO at Heaps Normal

Heaps Normal is the alcohol free brewing company launched during COVID.  Andy, armed with his extensive background in the beer industry and four mates with complementary skills, set about creating an alc free beer that tasted like the real thing…and to say he succeeded is an understatement. Last year, Heaps Normal was valued at $63 million and now accounts for roughly 40 per cent of all growth in the non-alcoholic beer category.  In this chat Andy tells us why bringing fun to work is more than just a brand identity, he gives his thoughts on pricing and shares why he believes the conversation around cannabis and other illicit drugs needs to change.

“We wanted to create fun work and that meant we had to be having fun as well”

Andy Miller

The ultimate blind test taste

“One of the early measures for us was that we had to genuinely feel like we could have a few of them and enjoy it, not be pretending, convincing ourselves that we were enjoying this sort of poor substitute for what we really wanted.  We went out and we tested that on people really early on. 

We gave it to people whose opinions we really respected, like bartenders and other brewers and sommeliers, even a few musicians, people that were really serious about their beer and really liked it.  I’d say nine out of those out of 10 people did not pick that it was non-alcoholic. We just gave it to them and said, hey here’s a new beer. It’s an XPA. What do you reckon? 

And most of them said, yeah, look, it’s really, it’s really delicious. And we said, what percentage alcohol would you think it was? And nine out of 10 of them said, ah, between 3 and 4%. So that was when we knew that we were onto something.” 

Do fun, be fun

“Early on  we referred to it as fun. We wanted to have fun. We wanted to create fun work. And we talked about the fact that meant we had to be having fun as well. 

Like we had to genuinely be excited about producing the work that we were putting out there, not just thinking that we were creating something that someone else would like. And I think there’s a really big difference between those two things.”

Price challenge

“I think the challenge with our product is that being non-alcoholic, not having the alcohol in there, which carries a lot of the aroma and flavour with it, it’s a very efficient substance for carrying flavour. We have to utilize a lot more ingredients and expensive ingredients like hops to get the result that we’ve got and for that to be comparable to alcoholic products in flavour. So that’s one part of it. 

We don’t ever want to be having a pricing war with the big guys, trying to match the price of Carlton Zero or Heineken Zero just feels like a race to the bottom and a fight that we’re not gonna win. But at the same time, we are really conscious of pricing our product competitively, understanding it’s still at the premium end of the market.

The overarching goal is to create an accessible product, both from a flavour point of view, but also from a price point of view. So that’s something that will continue to be top of mind for us.”

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