Airing between regular episodes of the VinePair Podcast, “Next Round” explores the ideas and innovations that are helping drinks businesses adapt in a time of unprecedented change. As the coronavirus crisis continues and new challenges arise, VP Pro is in your corner, supporting the drinks community for all the rounds to come. If you have a story or perspective to share, email us at podcast@vinepair.com

In this “Next Round,” VinePair Podcast co-host Zach Geballe interviews Bill Shufelt, founder of Athletic Brewing in Stratford, Conn. Athletic Brewing is most notable for its production of exclusively non-alcoholic beer, producing innovative options such as its Run Wild IPA, Downwinder Gose, and Smooth Ascent Coffee Stout. The Run Wild IPA was selected as one of VinePair’s top 50 beers in 2019, proving that non-alcoholic beers can be just as high-quality as their alcoholic counterparts.

Shufelt talks about filling the void of non-alcoholic beer in the craft beer community. He explains the motivation for starting a brewery offering sustainably made, good-for-you options that don’t taste like other NA lager-style beers available to consumers. In his mind, the rise of non-alcoholic craft beer doesn’t infringe on the current market share of palate. Rather, options like Athletic Brewing’s increase inclusivity of the beer community, bringing new drinkers to the segment and providing a drinking experience opportunity for moments in the week that don’t demand a beer buzz.

Though Shufelt doesn’t disclose full details of how Athletic makes its alcohol-free beers, he does explain that Athletic’s brewing process is similar to typical craft beer brewing, with about 12 to 15 variations to the typical process.

Meeting demand for the growing segment, Athletic recently opened a new production facility in San Diego, and has continued to grow its community through an online presence.

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