Launched in 2017, Athletic Brewing set out on a mission to create great-tasting, craft non-alcoholic (NA) beers. While the category was already on the rise at the time, no brand had yet to create a NA beer that fully delivered on the flavors found in craft styles. So 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. Their lineup now includes various styles well known to any beer drinker — from hazy IPAs to hefeweizens and golden ales — and has won various awards since its debut.
Amped to learn more about this sports-loving NA brand? Read on for 10 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 a united interest in fitness, philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why this group gravitated to Athletic Brewing with hopes of further growing the brand and the general public’s perception of non-alcoholic beer.
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. Although Athletic is no stranger to winning, having previously received top honors in the International Beer Challenge, 2021 was a standout year for the brewery. At the World Beer Awards, several of Athletic’s beers were named “best in the country,” and at the Great American Beer Festival, the brewery took home three NA medals.
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 Trade Street facility 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 Brewing’s home brewery in Stratford holds a local taproom open for public tasting, curbside pickup, and events. Open Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., the taproom menu alternates weekly, so 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 Brewing lifestyle goes beyond the fridge.
Crafted with the true adventurer in mind, Athletic Brewing makes a variety of merchandise to fit the athletic 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.
Share your love for NA beer by becoming a brand ambassador.
Initially created to expand Athletic Brewing’s social media community, the brand ambassador program invites drinkers to share their athletic and philanthropic accomplishments online and at Athletic Brewing events. Ambassadors are privy to perks like exclusive events, tastings, and the ability to earn 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 starts to getting on the program’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 donation programs of its kind. The brewery donates 2 percent of its annual sales to the program, providing coverage for funding gaps that often halt project completion. To date, Two for the Trails has donated $1 million to trail-based non-profits and other 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 their 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.
Athletic Brewing beers are made for drinking and cooking.
With flavors ranging from chocolate, honey, malt, and coffee, Athletic’s beers can be used in food and cocktail recipes alike. 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.