J.J. Watt Among Athletic Brewing Investors As N/A Beer Growth Accelerates

    • Athletic Brewing’s founder believes tripling sales is in play in 2021.
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As the nonalcoholic beer market continues its surge, one of its leading brands has been quietly backed by a group of athlete investors.

Athletic Brewing saw sales jump 500% last year, from $2.5 million to $15 million in revenue. The brand has a 61% market share of the nonalcoholic craft segment.

It recently unveiled a list of celebrity investors including J.J. Watt, Justin Tuck and Lance Armstrong — who’ve all been involved in the brand for up to three years. 

Other high-profile backers include Momofuku founder David Chang, Tom’s Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie and sports media personality Darren Rovell.

Athletic Brewing co-founder Bill Shufelt said making three times the company’s 2020 revenue in 2021 “is a reasonable expectation.”

In 2020, the nonalcoholic beer market grew 39% to $187 million. Beer sales as a whole, however, are projected to be flat in 2020, following a 2% dip to $116 billion in 2019.

Major sports sponsors AB InBev and Heineken also have stakes in the N/A market, including the Dwyane Wade-endorsed Budweiser Zero.

Beyond the N/A segment, the alcohol business has seen a recent wave of athlete investors. 

Last year, Peyton Manning — along with brother Eli and tennis star Andy Roddick — launched Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon. Others have launched their own wine brands, like Wade’s Wade Cellars and Channing Fyre’s Chosen Family.