Keurig Dr. Pepper is pumping $50 million into Athletic Brewery, the Stratford startup that’s building a dominant market share for its alcohol-free beers that have won rave reviews from some of Connecticut’s and the world’s top brewers.
Keurig Dr. Pepper’s investment makes it one of Athletic Brewing’s lead investors alongside private equity firms Alliance Consumer Growth and TRB Advisors. Athletic Brewing has now raised $174 million in capital.
Since its launch in 2017 by Bill Shufelt and John Walker, August Athletic Brewing has become one of the top 20 craft breweries by sales according to Nielsen rankings. This year, Inc. Magazine ranked it the 26th fastest growing company in the United States, making it the only Connecticut company to make the top 100 of the Inc. 5000.
In June Athletic Brewing opened a brewery in Milford which it said was at the time the largest in the world for non-alcoholic beers. The company also has a brewery in San Diego and its original factory in Stratford where it experiments with new flavors.
“We own and operate the two largest alcohol-free breweries in the world, in San Diego, California and Connecticut,” Shufelt said in an interview with Yahoo Finance last week. “Now is the time to invest in category growth, team growth and push towards profitability.”
Shufelt said the company has considered going public to fund future growth and isn’t ruling it out, but Keurig Dr Pepper represents a “values-aligned investor” who can provide assistance on a myriad of issues, including supply chain logistics marketing.