USA, CT: Athletic Brewing Company starts production at its new Milford facility
Athletic Brewing Company, one of the country's largest non-alcoholic beer producers, officially started production at its 150,000 square foot Milford facility on June 17, the Patch reported.
"Our product is health positive, it's better for you," Co-founder Bill Shufelt said at a ribbon cutting ceremony. "Alcoholism is a huge problem in this country, and we saw a path to improving tens of millions of lives not only here, but globally."
Shufelt and co-founder John Walker created the company in 2017 after they found other non-alcoholic beers lacking in flavor and popularity.
Athletic Brewing has experienced explosive growth over the past five years. It went from producing 12,000 cases of beer in 2018 to 1.4 million in 2021. It's distributed in 46 states, with plans to expand to the remaining four in the next few months, Shufelt said.
The Milford facility will eventually be able to produce 6 million cases annually. The company has a small 10,000 square foot operation in Stratford and an 80,000 square foot facility in San Diego.
The brewery secured funding with the help of the Connecticut Innovations Angel Investment program.
"It's five o'clock somewhere, we don't have to say that anymore," Gov. Ned Lamont said at the ribbon cutting. "This is Athletic Brewing, you can enjoy this round the clock."
Milford Mayor Ben Blake said the city is proud to become the non-alcoholic beer capital of the world.
"Milford is a place where businesses thrive, and we are just over the moon that Athletic has set its roots in the small city with a big heart," he said.
The Milford location is located on Cascade Boulevard close to the Orange border. For now, it's a production facility, but it will eventually have a tap room, Walker said.
Brewing nonalcoholic beer is more challenging than the more common alcoholic variety, Walker said. Athletic Brewing doesn't remove any fermented alcohol, so the product has to be kept below 0.5 percent throughout production.
Another challenge is producing a product that remains shelf stable without the help of alcohol.
The company supports a number of charitable endeavors and donates two percent of its proceeds to protecting and restoring hiking trails. It also partners with Brew to Moo to turn leftover grain product into feed for farm animals.
The Milford location likely isn't the last stop for the company, Shufelt said.
"We're changing how the world drinks, and we're just getting going on this journey," he said.
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