Launched in 2017, Athletic Brewing set out on a mission to create craft non-alcoholic (NA) beers that taste delicious. While the category was already on the rise at the time, with many brands only brewing lager styles, no brand had yet to create a NA beer that fully delivered on the unique flavors found in craft styles. With that in mind — and with a taste for rich IPAs that wouldn’t comprise his healthy lifestyle — Bill Shufelt teamed up with longtime brewer John Walker to create something to please health-conscious beer lovers like themselves.
In the heart of Stratford, Conn., the two formulated a line of craft beers that are as rooted in taste as they are in craftsmanship. From hazy IPAs to hefeweizens and golden ales, their lineup includes a range of styles to please any beer drinker. They were one of the first national craft breweries to launch in the non-alcoholic space and have since won various awards and honors for their innovation within the industry.
Amped to learn more about this sports-loving NA brand? Read on for 16 more things to know about Athletic Brewing Co.
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Athletic Brewing is backed by a star-studded group of investors.
In 2021, Athletic Brewing announced a new group of investors made up of celebrities, athletes, and entrepreneurs. The group includes cyclist Lance Armstrong, TOMS founder Blake Myxoskie, restaurateur David Chang, and NFL players Justin Tuck and J.J. Watt. Though it may sound like a mixed bag from afar, each of these investors has an interest in fitness, philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the group gravitated to Athletic Brewing in the hopes of further growing the brand, fattening their wallets, and improving the general public’s perception of non-alcoholic beer.
Athletic’s board of directors is growing.
In Nov. 2022, Athletic welcomed Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) as its latest investor and strategic partner. The beverage conglomerate invested a $50 million minority stake in the NA brand, providing KDP with an equity stake in Athletic Brewing as well as a seat on its board of directors. This came as part of Athletic’s $75 million Series D round, during which several A-listers, including Karlie Kloss and Naomi Osaka, contributed a combined $25 million.
The brews have racked up awards.
The superior taste of Athletic’s craft beers has earned the brewery multiple awards in both national and international competitions. Athletic received top rankings in the 2020 International Beer Challenge and several of its beers have been named “best in the country” at the Great American Beer Festival. Most recently, the Athletic Brewery received the Brewery of the Year accolade at VinePair’s Next Wave Awards.
Athletic Brewing is crafted on two coasts.
Athletic Brewing may have started in Connecticut, but it now counts San Diego as its second home thanks to the recent acquisition of its Trade Street facility. Formally owned by Constellation Brands and operated under Ballast Point Brewing, the new brewery has allowed Athletic Brewing to increase its production and further expand the brand’s reach from coast to coast.
You can enjoy a beer in Athletic’s taproom.
Athletic’s home brewery in Stratford holds a local taproom open for tastings, curbside pickup, and events. Open Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., the taproom’s drink menu alternates weekly and serves several of Athletic’s winning brews on draft. Just be sure to check it out online before visiting to see what beers will be available.
Athletic Brewing is about more than just beer.
During the spring of 2021, Athletic Brewing released a new line of hop-infused sparkling waters containing zero calories and no added sugar. The initial launch included four flavors: Mango, Lemon Lime, Black Cherry, and Blood Orange. With the addition of hop oil, each seltzer uniquely balances notes of bitterness, citrus, and pine with fruit flavors.
The Athletic lifestyle goes beyond the fridge.
Crafted with the true adventurer in mind, Athletic Brewing makes a variety of merchandise to fit the active lifestyles of its fans. Going on a trip? Athletic’s branded backpacks, duffel bags, and fanny packs are ideal for holding gear (and beer). From windbreakers, caps, posters, dog accessories, mini fridges, and more, Athletic Brewing has you covered for whatever adventure awaits.
You can share your love for NA beer by becoming a brand ambassador.
Initially created to expand its social media community, Athletic Brewing’s brand ambassador program invites drinkers to share their athletic and philanthropic accomplishments online and at Athletic Brewing events. Ambassadors can access perks like exclusive events, tastings, and entry fee sponsorships for trail run races such as the Zen Squirrel Trail Run. While you don’t have to be a professional athlete to apply, a keen interest in sports, healthy living, mindfulness, community outreach, and, of course, good beer are great ways to get on Athletic’s radar.
Athletic is on a mission to create and restore local trails.
Having a passion for hiking himself, Shufelt began the Two for the Trails grant program to help create and preserve trails across America. Since its start, Two for the Trails has grown to become one of the largest organizations of its kind. The brewery donates two percent of its annual sales to trail-based non-profits, providing coverage for funding gaps that often halt project completion. To date, Two for the Trails has donated $1 million to organizations with missions to protect and restore local trails.
Love Athletic? Join the club.
The Athletic Brewing website makes it easy for drinkers to find local shops carrying its brews, but for even easier access, it also offers a monthly beer club. Upon joining, members are given the option to custom-build a monthly box with either 12,18 or 24 beers. Members also receive exclusive access to new releases as well as discounts on Athletic’s beers, sparkling waters, and merchandise.
Have your beer and eat it, too.
With flavors ranging from chocolate and honey to malt and coffee, Athletic’s beers can be used in food and cocktail recipes. But if you’re short on inspiration, a quick browse on the brand’s Pinterest page offers a variety of tasty recipes using its beers and sparkling waters, from brownies to refreshing NA cocktails. Clearly, the Athletic lineup has proven itself to be enjoyed by more than just beer aficionados.
Athletic Brewing dove head first into the canned cocktail scene
In the spring of 2022, Athletic Brewing entered the canned cocktail space with the release of its non-alcoholic Michelada, Chelada Nada. As if creating a canned NA beer cocktail wasn’t risky enough, the Chelada Nada first debuted in Texas where the original spicy, tomato-forward beer cocktail reigns supreme. The RTD is limitedly available in several other southwestern states such as Arizona and parts of California.
Athletic Brewing has crossed the pond.
As a leader in the American NA space, Athletic Brewing recently set its sights on expansion into the U.K., and in Oct. 2022, the brewery was picked up by Tesco, a British chain of multinational groceries and retail stores. Today, Athletic beers are available at many retailers across the U.K., including 300 Tesco stores.
Back by popular demand…
Customers are at the core of Athletic Brewing, so when they ask, Athletic delivers. At the request of its loyal fans, Athletic has frequently brought back customer favorites like its Yuzu Guava and Hibiscus Lemongrass sparkling waters and the Stump Jump Autumn Brown beer.
Athletic honors those who’ve served.
Recently, the brewery released a new limited edition beer, Ready Front IPA, to honor military veterans. Developed with a team of actual veterans, this IPA uses a special “Veterans Blend” made from Yakima Chief Hops found in the Pacific Northwest. Along with those honorary brews, Athletic Brewing is donating 100 percent of Ready Front’s profits to foundations such as Catch A Lift and Team RWB, which help combat-injured veterans regain their mental and physical health through fitness.
Thirsty for more Athletic beer? There’s an app for that.
Athletic Brewing recently launched an iOS app that gives users access to app-exclusive brews, curated collections, and new releases. It also serves as the home for the company’s “Without Compromise” podcast and online merch shop.