Athletic Brewing Co. 'Flagship' Opens in Milford
17 Jun 2022
“This is the flagship non-alcoholic beer destination in the entire world, and it is in Milford, and we can’t be more proud,” said Mayor Ben Blake. “Milford is a place where businesses thrive, and we are over the moon that Athletic Brewing has set its roots in the small city with a big heart.”
Athletic Brewing’s new brewery, located at 75 Cascade Blvd., will serve U.S. East Coast markets and Europe, and complement Athletic’s 80,000-square-foot brewery in San Diego, Calif.. That facility can supply more than 2 million cases annually. Athletic Brewing will also maintain its original 10,000-square-foot facility in Stratford for ongoing innovation efforts and future projects.
The new 150,000-square-foot facility opened Friday. Co-Founder Bill Shufelt said it would be capable of making more than five million cases a year.
“We looked everywhere from Massachusetts to North Carolina to Ohio when we were looking to open our new facility,” said Shufelt. “We looked at everything from labor market analysis, property analysis, logistics and transpiration. But we chose Milford because of the support of the State of Connecticut and the business environment in the state.”
The business, founded by Shufelt and John Walker, opened in 2017 and grew from just 12,000 cases in 2018 to more than 1.4 million cases in 2021.
“Athletic Brewing, this is amazingly special what you are doing here,” said Gov. Ned Lamont. “This is a partnership, between the city, state and some incredible entrepreneurs.”
Athletic Brewing is not new to southern Connecticut, as it got its start in Stratford and recently was named to Time Magazine’s most influential companies’ list.
“I’m so proud of where we have come from,” said Shufelt. “It was about four years ago we were 10 miles down the street. We had six 40-barrel ferments, and we thought we were so enormous at the time. About 10 months later, we had totally outgrown the space.
“No one else in the country, industry and the world believed in what we were working on,” he added. “We are grateful to our 66 investors who believed in us because, at that time, there were no non-alcoholic breweries in the country, let alone production facilities and tap rooms.”
In 2020, the company expanded to the West Coast, opening a brewery in San Diego.
“Since then, we’ve been to Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and beyond,” said Shufelt. “We are building right here in our backyard in southern Connecticut in the facility that’s about 50 times the output and 25 times the square footage of the initial facility.”
From the start, Shufelt said they wanted to positively impact their customer's health and fitness and the communities at large. They have donated 2 percent of all sales to trail and park cleanups and maintenance via its Two for the Trails program. It eclipsed $1 million in donations in 2021 and is projected to eclipse it again in 2022.
“Our product is health positive, and it’s better for you,” he said. “Alcoholism is a huge problem in this country, and we see a path for improving tens of millions of lives, not only here but globally.”
Shufelt said the state of Connecticut made big exceptions to help them get into the Connecticut Innovations Angle Investor Program early on.
“It is for bio-tech and high technology companies, but they saw an opportunity in our products to help change how Connecticut drinks and saw it as a huge world positive growth opportunity,” he said.