Non-alcoholic beer maker Athletic Brewing raises US$17.5m in Series B round

USA – Connecticut-based non-alcoholic craft beer startup, Athletic Brewing Company has closed a US$17.5 million Series B funding round to support its planned expansion and acquisitions.

According to a Forbes report, the funding round attracted a pool of well-known backers, including Timothy Barakett’s family office, TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, Wheelhouse Partners and Tastemaker Capital Partners.

Athletic Brewing plans to use part of the new funding to purchase an 80,000-square-foot San Diego brewery, once occupied by Ballast Point Brewing Company. 

Athletic Brewing co-founder, Bill Shufelt told Forbes that his company would be acquiring certain brewing assets on-site and investing an additional US$5 million into a high-speed canning line and other renovations.

The non-alcoholic beer maker plans to retrofit the facility and eventually enable Athletic to produce as much as 100,000 barrels of non-alcoholic beer.

Shufelt revelead that the company had already entered into a lease agreement with the property owner and would be adding a “couple dozen” jobs, adding that it plans to begin making beer in the new location by mid-May.

Athletic Brewing currently operates its original 9,000 square feet Connecticut brewery that produced 10,000 barrels in 2019. The company said that the total investment will increase its production capabilities tenfold

“Athletic Brewing is on a mission to make the beers that we, as craft beer lovers, want to drink, offering quality and innovation in our non-alcoholic craft beers to meet the demands of modern life,” Athletic co-founder and head brewer John Walker said.

“We are thrilled to be able to make beer on both coasts to better reach our growing community.”

Founded in mid-2018, Athletic Brewing has so far raised more than US$20 million to date and already has more than 60 angel investors backing the company.

The company’s revenue grew tenfold in 2019 and projects that 2020 shipments could approach 20,000 barrels once the San Diego brewery comes online.

Athletic Brewing makes a range of non-alcoholic craft beers, including Run Wild IPA which accounts for 50% of its sales.

Athletic Brewing’s expansion comes at a time when traditional craft breweries are struggling to find growth or closing their doors, and when an increasing number of consumers are moderating consumption.

Brewers Association chief economist, Bart Watson estimates that 300 of the country’s more than 8,000 breweries closed in 2019, a slight increase from the 219 that closed the year before. 

However, Shufelt said he believes non-alcoholic beer, currently less than 1% of all beer sold in the U.S., could eventually be as large as the IPA market, which comprises about 6% of total beer sales.

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