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Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Stomping Ground and Heaps Normal

Traditionally, the Collingwood region in Victoria has always been a hotbed for craft breweries, a fact that had a tangible impact on the nomenclature of Stomping Ground Brewery, which not only gave the region an innovative boundary pushing new brewery but also paid homage to its heritage by adding a new chapter in the realm of brewing to it.

Classifying Stomping Ground’s portfolio of brews as “comprehensive” would be an understatement par excellence as the array of their creations encompasses dozens of beer styles, ranging from easy-to-drink via intermediate to challenging styles like their take on the Teutonic Rauchbier, all of which are imbued with their dedication to nailing the quintessence of the respective style while staying faithful to their DNA.

My first exposure to Stomping Ground’s emissions was via their Hop Stomper IPA, which is located at the lean and subtle end of the sweet and grapefruity spectrum, counterpointed by a prominent bitterness.

Clocking in at 6.2% ABV, the Hop Stomper constitutes a beautifully sessionable IPA and ideal gateway to Stomping Ground’s more challenging creations, parts of which are released as their own barrel-aged Into the Wood series: Based on partnerships with an eclectic range of reputable Victorian distillers like one of my favourite whiskey distillers on terra australis, which we have covered quite a few times as part of our Water of Life series, i.e. Bakery Hill, barrel exchanges result in the creation of unique flavour experiences.

The result of Stamping Ground’s collaboration with Bakery Hill is a veritable flavour bomb: Amber in appearance and fuelled by an alcoholic punch of 10% ABV, it is nice to experience subtle nuances in this barley wine in the way piney highlights cast their resinous shadow against a backdrop of fruity molasses and heavier port wine notes. Needless to say, it goes beautifully with a dram of my favourite Bakery Hill expression, i.e. Sovereign Smoke.

On the lighter end of the Stomping Ground spectrum of diversity, the Raspberry Smash convinced me. As both the name and the pink hue suggests, fruity notes take centre stage and while this could have ended up with an overly sweet novelty beer with lesser breweries, Stomping Ground pulls it off and creates a crisp, berry-centric brew that only offers hints of sour notes, thereby making an instant favourite for any beer fiend with a sweet tooth.

Given that I have yet to taste a Stomping Ground release that does not tick all the boxes for the respective style, I cannot wait to taste the brewery’s other current and future releases and can only hope that they will be looking into releasing double and triple IPAs.

Heaps Normal

Arguably, I like beer and the warmth and other contributions that can be attributed to alcohol certainly plays a role in the equation. However, with the deluge of non-alcoholic beers having entered the scene over the last few years, I endeavoured to find out what the craze was all about and more importantly, if they delivered on the flavour front.

While the bigger players have entered the non-alcoholic beer market early on with questionable and non-enjoyable attempts, it was interesting to see craft brewers enter the game of creating brews with less than 0.5% ABV with innovate new ways to extract alcohol out of the brews. A feat that is usually achieved by brewing in higher temperatures in a bid to literally make the alcohol evaporate based on the fact that alcohol has a much lower boiling point than water. An approach does more often than not come at the cost of flavour.

Enter Heaps Normal based out of Canberra, which has made quite a significant splash on the scene with its well defined marketing campaigns and classic yet iconographic branding, with their credo of being “too good to be wasted” capturing the essence of what they set out to achieve.

Based on a well calibrated melange of Kohatu, Simcoe and Cascade hops, Heaps Normal’s flagship expression, i.e. the New World hop based Quiet XPA is an accomplished example for a flavourful ale on the citrus and tropical side of things, elegantly counterpointed by biscuity and bitter nuances, which are pierced by a delicate sweetness.

A wonderfully flavourful little number that is the result of the expertise and technical prowess of Heaps Normal’s head brewer, who has honed his craft through stints at 4 Pines and Grifter and a veritable alternative for real beer aficionados who are dedicated to mindful drinking and looking to cut back on their alcohol intake without feeling like making sacrifices at the flavour front.

With the unique recipe and brewing method that Heaps Normal has refined, I hope that they will endeavour to create a non-alcoholic hopped out IPA.

The fact that Heaps Normal has finetuned its brand personality with the subtle yet impactful deliberate merchandise they design with meticulous attention to detail and quality without becoming too salesy and drab for recipients to actually want to use, only adds further to the appeal of their offerings.


images form company websites

T • February 18, 2022

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