A former hedge fund trader founded America’s leading nonalcoholic craft beer

Athletic Brewing is one of America’s fastest-growing nonalcoholic beer brands, with sales rising 5x in 2020 to ~$15m.


January 20, 2021

It’s Dry January… which means somewhere, someone you know is prob having a sip of Athletic Brewing.

Founded in 2017 by Bill Shufelt — a former hedge fund trader — Athletic Brewing is one of America’s fastest-growing nonalcoholic (NA) brands, Bloomberg reports.

As quarantine life pushed many to prioritize health at home, the company saw sales grow more than 5x in 2020 to ~$15m.

The entire nonalcoholic beverage industry is $187m

Within that, Athletic Brewing dominates the craft NA beer segment with a 61% share offering low-cal favorites like Run Wild IPA (70 cals) and gluten-free Upside Dawn Golden Ale (50 cals).

Don’t let the names fool you — this is not hipster fare.

Shufelt’s trading career was a “performance-based lifestyle” that required him to stay sharp, while investors include A+ athletes like NFL players J.J. Watt and Justin Tuck.

The trend has a number of tailwinds…

… as covered by our Steph Smith in a…err…Trends article (un-paywalled for 1 week):

  • Healthier (low-cal) lifestyle: 40% of global consumers want to reduce alcohol consumption
  • No restrictions on NA beverages: Sellers can go D2C or in types of venues (restaurants, gyms) with no red tape
  • A cheaper drink: No alcohol taxes

Major alcohol brands (e.g., AB InBev’s Leffe 0.0 or Carlsberg’s Nordic Ale) have gotten in on the action. Everything helps when it comes to keeping that “dry” New Year’s resolution.

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