For a few years, I’ve been noticing an emergence of non-alcohol beverage brands popping up in the craft beer space. I decided to do some research into Australian craft brands and focused on two that are making some noise at the moment; Sobah and Heaps Normal. I was interested in what makes these brands tick, how they position themselves and why people are buying them.
Established in 2017, are by no means a new comer, but a pioneer given the age of the category.
Sobah Beverages is an Australian Aboriginal, family run company making a range of premium non-alcoholic craft beers infused with native fruit and spices based on Kombumerri lands of the Gold Coast. Sobah’s founders Clinton Schultz and Lozen McDiarmid-Schultz said in a recent Radio Brews News Podcast that one of the reasons they started Sobah was there weren’t options for sophisticated no alcohol beverages when Clinton wanted to reduce his intake.
Sobah want to give people a choice; an alternate option that’s a healthier one. That's why they seek to lead a conversation with Australians about our society's issues with alcohol consumption, and to break down the stigma of socialising sober. The brand reflects the way they live their life and their love of native foods. They aim to raise cultural awareness and promote Aboriginal arts, language and history through their range.
A non-alcohol beer company that started in July 2020. Like Sobah, the Heaps Normal founders wanted to reduce their alcohol consumption. Ultimately, they decided that if you want to change culture, you have to be part of it.
Be the change you want to be.
This lead them to ask the question “What’s the important stuff in your life? Are you sacrificing that by being hungover?” They are about taking the time to reflect on your choices and do what works for you as an individual. Their story is based on the simple belief that there are things in life that are too good to be wasted.
Sobah can art
I first discovered a can of Sobah in a gift shop in Cairns at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park in 2019. I was instantly taken by its earthy, hand crafted aesthetic. The layering of bright background colours with line drawn natural elements adds depth and reinforces their connection to the land.
The first line of copy on the can is “Non-alcoholic craft beer infused with Australian bush tucker”, again another way to communicate what makes them different. Clear intention and purpose right there.
Sobah are currently equity crowd funding to build a brewery, and their posts reflect that. Other themes that they communicate revolve around:
Heaps Normal can art
Simple, Balter-esque minimalism. A lovely sense of whimsy with the brain character. I love this character it shows an active mind, not a wasted one a nice tie into “No Downsides” which runs across the top. The typography consists of a crafty, bold logo typeface complimented with classic beer scripts. I like how the horizontal lines vertically "bookend" the can and tie in with the brain character. I wonder if the brain character will evolve with the range? Doing different things? Perhaps animated for socials? Or will the range follow a colour change for each brew? Looking forward to seeing how it plays out as the range grows.
Heaps Normal tap into classic craft beer themes around humour, food, design and music. They do it in a way that’s natural and authentic. During Dry July they created a #NormalJuly campaign where followers sent in stories of when they were just trying to do their best. The winner won HEAPS NORMAL'S old second hand delivery van. Classic stuff.
Their socials revolve around:
Who is buying it and why?
It’s safe to say people that don’t drink beer are unlikely to drink non-alcohol beer. It’s got the taste, the look and the burps of regular beer. You have to like beer to like the flavours of non-alcohol beer.
Predominantly millennials and non drinkers aged between 25 - 35 are buying it. Living in large cities, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
But their reasons are varied:
Women like to drink it during pregnancy. Athletes drink it as a recovery drink. Healthy minded folks like it because it's considered a better option when compared to soft drink. The common theme is; it’s about people choosing a low alcohol beer to reduce the amount of alcohol they are consuming.
Because these brands build communities. They establish the culture around what they are doing, which in turn helps their business and connects customers.
Both Sobah and Heaps Normal build communities around mindful consumption. The movement around what we put into our bodies and how it affects us and the world around us. This is powerful stuff, especially when coupled with a great product.
Ultimately, they choose to communicate ideas that are bigger than their business. Smart branding with a higher purpose, I’ll drink to that.