Athletic Brewing Company co-founder and CEO Bill Shufelt discussed the evolution of non-alcoholic (NA) beer – and the strategies the Stratford, Connecticut-based brewery has used to become a leader in the segment – during the Brewbound Live 2021 business conference in Santa Monica, California earlier this month.
Athletic launched in 2018, and has grown to claim about 50% of the NA craft beer segment, according to Shufelt. Brewbound editor Justin Kendall likened the brewery to a “quintessential Brewbound Live story,” as Athletic transitioned from a 2019 Brewbound Live Pitch Slam competitor, to a 2020 Rising Star, to this year being named Craft Brewery of the Year.
“I think [Athletic] is taking something that was so long neglected and bringing it out of the penalty box,” Shufelt said. “The word sober – and these binary words are so outdated – 80% of our customers drink alcohol at other times during the week. We really think non-alcoholic in all its forms, not only beer, is the first credible occasion growth driver in adult beverages that we’ve had in decades.”