Athletic Brewing Company Closes On A $50 Million Equity Financing Round

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One of the hottest brands in the entire alcohol market, Athletic Brewing, just announced it has closed a $50 million equity financing round led by private equity firm General Atlantic. The round also includes participation from multiple existing investors. This comes on the heels of another $50 million Series D round led by Keurig Dr Pepper that closed just twenty-one months ago.

Founded in 2018 by Bill Shufelt and John Walker in Milford, Connecticut, Athletic Brewing Company has taken the beer world by storm with its lineup composed entirely of non-alcoholic beers. According to the Brewers Association, it finished 2023 as the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States and the 20th largest overall brewer. The brand sold over 258,000 barrels in 2023.

This meteoric growth led the brand to seek out more financing as it continues to focus on long-term growth. That focus on expansion has seen the brand acquire two former Ballast Point brewing facilities in San Diego. The first purchase occurred in 2020, and the second much larger facility was just recently announced in June 2024.

Due to their unique proprietary brewing methods that produce non-alcoholic beers that taste just like full-strength brews, the company plans to renovate its latest acquisition. Athletic Brewing announced that it will use the funding to bring its latest brewery in line with on-site improvements. A new packaging line and enhancements to the brewhouse, cellar, and lab are planned to meet the company’s stringent food safety and quality standards. Once the brewery is operational, Athletic Brewing expects to double its U.S. brewing capacity.

“We’re thrilled to welcome General Atlantic as a key growth partner at a time when we’re significantly expanding our West Coast capacity to meet increasing demand for Athletic beer,” said Bill Shufelt, Co-Founder and CEO of Athletic. “We are passionate about transforming the way modern adults drink and converting critics into believers. We’re at the start of a long-term trend, and we couldn’t be more excited to have General Atlantic by our side as Athletic begins its next phase of growth.”

General Atlantic will receive a seat on the Athletic board as part of the deal. General Atlantic has approximately $84 billion in assets under management in a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, technology, financial services, and restaurants.

Part of their interest in Athletic Brewing may stem from more Americans than ever looking for healthy beverage alternatives. A recent NCSolutions Consumer Sentiment Survey showed that 41% of those asked said they were actively trying to moderate their alcohol consumption in 2024, a 7% increase from 2023.

“Athletic has rapidly become the category-defining brand in non-alcoholic beer, and we are excited to partner with Bill and John as the company continues to grow,” said Andrew Crawford, Managing Director and Global Head of Consumer at General Atlantic. “With a differentiated brewing process, leading taste profile, and loyal customer base, Athletic is poised to take advantage of the expanding global demand for non-alcoholic beer. We intend to leverage our international platform and capabilities across technology, digital marketing, and merchandising to help the business achieve its potential.”

The news for Athletic Brewing only keeps getting better these days. They were recently named one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential Companies” of 2024 and selected as GQ’s 20 most creative companies worldwide. According to NielsenIQ data, the brand holds over a 19% market share within non-alcoholic beer and is driving 32% of total non-alcoholic beer category growth.

It seems that consumers will soon be seeing more brightly colored Athletic beer cans on the shelves of their favorite retail stores across America and soon the world at this pace. For a brand that just celebrated its sixth birthday, that’s impressive, especially in a challenging beer market that saw the U.S. market finish the year down 5%, according to the Brewers Association. Athletic Brewing seems to have stuck gold with consumers looking for an alternative beverage.

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