Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. (KDP), Burlington, Mass., and Frisco, Texas, announced a minority stake in Athletic Brewing Co., a leading non-alcohol craft beer maker. The transaction represents KDP’s latest move into rapidly emerging beverage categories, following its acquisition of non-alcohol ready-to-drink cocktail brand Atypique.  

The $50 million investment by KDP provides the company with an equity stake in Athletic Brewing that is comparable to other lead investors, namely TRB Advisors and Alliance Consumer Growth. KDP will have a seat on the company’s Board of Directors. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Athletic Brewing was founded in 2017 by Bill Shufelt and John Walker and is a Top 20 U.S. craft brewer, according to Nielsen data. In 2022, Athletic Brewing was ranked as the 26th fastest-growing private company in America by Inc. Magazine and also was named to Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Companies” list.

Non-alcohol beer in the United States grew almost 20% in retail dollars over the past year, based on NielsenIQ Scan Off-Premise Channels data for the 52 weeks ending Aug. 20. The craft segment, where Athletic Brewing holds a 55% market share, has outpaced total category growth, the company notes. Athletic Brewing has a lineup of more than 40 brews. 

Non-alcohol beer accounts for over 85% of total sales in the fast-growing category of non-alcohol beer, wine and spirits, based NielsenIQ data.

“Athletic Brewing is a winning brand in a rapidly growing beverage segment. Our investment reflects our interest and ability to move into exciting white spaces, including in the blurring of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic categories” said Keurig Dr Pepper Executive Chairman Bob Gamgort in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with the Athletic Brewing team to help them scale the business.”

Shufelt added: “We’re thrilled to welcome Keurig Dr Pepper as an investor and strategic partner. Their team brings a tremendous amount of expertise and truly embraces our mission of brewing great-tasting non-alcoholic beers that are fit for all times. This investment will enable Athletic Brewing to further accelerate our growth across North America.”