WTF Am I Drinking? Non-Alcoholic Beer with Athletic Brewing Company


Hi, hello, and welcome to the third edition of TapRm’s podcast and explainer series, “WTF Am I Drinking?” Each episode, we chat with one of our favorite brands and brewers to dig into a beer style, an ingredient, a brewing process, or really any topic that helps all of us beverage lovers at any level of knowledge develop both a better understanding and a better appreciation of the drink at hand. So far, we’ve learned about the piquette spritz with Ditto, and we dove deep on kveik yeast with Oslo Brewing Company.

This time, we’re talking about an area that is incredibly exciting, especially as it is exponentially growing and evolving at this very moment: Non-alcoholic beer. And we’re discussing non-alcoholic beer with who we think is one of the absolutely best sources: Athletic Brewing Company. Founded by Bill Shufelt with brewer John Walker, Athletic has revolutionized alcohol-free beer, essentially galvanizing the exploding market we’re all getting to enjoy now. Athletic helped make NA beer craft, creating options that had never existed before for people who want a booze-free beer--for any reason, for any occasion--but who shouldn’t have to sacrifice taste, quality, or selection. Athletic’s wide portfolio of beautifully brewed styles, their taproom, their events, their ethos, it all amounts to a whole new world of options. So, we got into all of that--the brand history, the culture and lifestyle, the motivation and drive, non-alcoholic beer and brewing, Athletic’s styles, and much more--with Athletic’s Project Manager Dermot Woods.

Listen here, and enjoy the video as well as a transcript right here, right now (and make sure to visit this link, discussed below, for must-try recipes with Athletic beers)! You can shop the styles you’re hearing about here.

Courtney: All right. TapRm is here with Athletic Brewing Company, represented by project manager Dermot Woods, which we are--we're so excited to talk with you. We love Athletic here at TapRm, and we're so excited for other people to get to know the brand. I mean, I'm sure many of them do. But thank you so much for joining us to talk about the brand.

Dermot: Thanks very much. Yeah. I'm really excited to be on. Thank you very much for having me.

Courtney: Let's go ahead and get right into it, because we've got a lot to talk about. So, obviously, the big topic is non-alcoholic beer. But let's just talk a little bit about Athletic Brewing Company in particular. I think it would just be fun to get to sort of know Athletic's origin story, and just sort of really how it came to be.

Dermot: Yeah. Absolutely. We were founded in 2017, with our co-founder Bill Shufelt. He decided that alcohol was no longer jiving with his pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. So he still wanted to enjoy a good beer, just without the alcohol. And he was faced with, on nights out, kind of non-inspiring non-alcoholic options in front of him. So he kind of went down this path of creating a great tasting, craft non-alcoholic beer that maybe didn't exist. 

As you can imagine, that was a heavy lift with a lot of hurdles. So he faced a challenge there initially in the conception, and getting brewers to kind of take his idea, this idea of craft non-alcoholic, seriously. But thankfully, he met with John Walker, who was an award-winning brewer out in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And he was very excited by the challenge that was presented, of brewing this craft non-alcoholic beer, and got up and moved out east to Stratford, Connecticut. And from there, they started brewing hundreds of test batches and kind of grew from there. Rest is history, as they say.

Courtney: That's awesome. Well, we are actually going to get into a little bit of that history, because one of, I think, the really exciting things about Athletic is that it really came along and created this explosion in the non-alcoholic beer market. It blazed this trail for other brands that they would eventually come along and follow. Non-alcoholic beer, as you mentioned, has been around forever, but it was kind of like limited to these really big brands, and it sort of tasted like an afterthought. I don't think that people looking for that really felt considered in their options, if that makes sense. I mean, why was it so important for Athletic to change that? And really, frankly, how did the team know that they could? If no one had really done a good non-alcoholic IPA before, how did Athletic know that they were going to be able to crack that?

Dermot: Yeah. That, again, kind of ties to Bill's story a little. The options that he had on that night out, they were pretty outdated, or just not available, or if they were, it was that--as they say--the dusty bottle in the back of the fridge that was presented. So non-alc as a category hasn't really changed, or hadn't really changed or shifted direction at all in probably 25, 30 years. So Bill and John, they really wanted to rise to the occasion and create a craft offering, fully fermented, great tasting beer, in a huge variety of styles, that just happens to be non-alcoholic. So the mantra that I've grown up with here, that always was and always will be: If it doesn't taste good, don't put it out. And believe me, we've had our ones that we've thrown out. In the beginning and ever since, Bill and John, they really took their time to really perfect the process before going to market. And that's obviously been a huge backbone to our overall success.

Courtney: Do you want to maybe address sort of personally your own personal beliefs on this? Because I wanted to talk about the importance of having such a range of options in non-alcoholic craft beer. So first, from your perspective, and then why it's important to consumers. So can you talk a little bit about why you think it's so important to have a full range of options for people seeking non-alcoholic beer?

Dermot: Yeah. Absolutely…from a personal standpoint, I quit alcohol, I think somewhere north of five years ago. It was kind of at a--similar to Bill--time in my life when I was considering long-term health and I had a young family, long road ahead, and kind of taking care of that family. And alcohol wasn't really fitting in with my exercise goals and other lofty goals that I had. But it kind of scared me to think that I could go this prolonged period of time without a few beers. So it was about a year or so into my journey that I discovered Athletic. And from there, I found everything there that I enjoyed about drinking a beer and not have to suffer the consequences kind of thing or the dreaded aftermath of the morning after. 

So from a personal standpoint, I view it--people like me who still want to enjoy a beer, the variety is so important. You don't want just that golden ale or kind of the standards. I've found myself drinking more in non-alcoholic with sours and gose and stuff I wouldn't have tried back when I was drinking full-strength beer. So, yeah. The variety in the choices is super important.

Courtney: And then what about for consumers in general, as far as you can speak to or that you're thinking or seeing being a part of Athletic? I think the revolution here is for someone seeking non-alcoholic beer to be able to have the craft beer experience, to be able to walk into a cool bottle shop in town and have this whole range there. What do you think a brand like Athletic is really bringing into people's lives with all these options?

Dermot: So consumers, they're so hyper-engaged in this niche, the non-alcoholic community. The market's kind of responding now to them and what they want. We've grown from our kind of flagship beers into other limited-time offerings on our pilot program and so on, so forth. So the challenge is always there out in the market to get those kind of offerings out. But the demand is definitely there and, thankfully, there's different ways that we can get to our customer. A big one being direct-to-consumer. But no matter what, now you're seeing kind of a lot of growth in the market, a lot of new breweries popping up, especially in the beer world, non-alcoholic wise. So no matter what you're kind of chasing as a consumer now, thankfully, the choices are there, whether it's a true 0.0, maybe something low carb, or maybe the hoppiest NA you could find, like our Free Wave, which we will get into later. But I've been able to enjoy it from a personal standpoint and as I said earlier, I've been drinking beers that I necessarily wouldn't have had before. So it's great.

Courtney: Why do you think now is really the time? I think Athletic really, as we mentioned, helped spark a lot of this non-alcoholic market really blowing open. But people are obviously really interested in this and the pursuit feels a lot more intense and enthusiastic now. Do you have any thoughts on why now is such a big moment for alcohol-free options?

Dermot: Yeah. I mean, it could be up for debate and there's probably multiple answers for this, but I think even more recently with COVID and staying home and quarantine and everything we kind of collectively went through with that, there might be this kind of higher state of self-awareness or awakening or as I mentioned before as well, some kind of focus on your long-term health. Maybe folks being locked up at home or whatever, they're in front of the mirror more. What is my alcohol take? Is it compatible with my goals? Things I mentioned. 

And don't get me wrong on that, I don't think anyone in the non-alcoholic beer world or industry is out to get up on their soapbox and shout about the dangers of alcohol. But we're more so trying to find our place in the market and we're finding our niche there. But you're seeing a lot of consumers now just mixing in non-alcoholic to maybe balance out their alcohol intake or maybe they're doing that dry January, give their liver a break. I just think non-alcoholic in general, it's kind of in this right place, right time kind of moment in the grand scheme of things. And more and more people have more access to it and understand it a little bit better, and you're kind of seeing a little less of that kind of age-old kind of reaction of, “What's the point of it?” There's just more use cases, more access and more awareness for sure. So it's in a good moment for sure.

Hannah: That's such a good point with COVID, too, because I feel like there were two groups of people that either started drinking a lot more during COVID or just stopped drinking altogether and I was in the boat that stopped drinking because I'm very much a social drinker. And it's just kind of bizarre when something that is so prevalent in your life, living in New York especially, that just stops all of a sudden, and then you do really start to question, “Do I need to have this as frequently as I do?” And I don't think a lot of people really think about it, how much it affects their lifestyle, just because it's so normal, and I love that people are starting this super curious quest and really thinking, well can I continue to have a social lifestyle without as much alcohol, too? So I think it's a great conversation starter for that.

Dermot: Yeah. For sure.

Courtney: So that kind of actually leads perfectly into our next question because I think that maybe in the past, too, there have been some stereotypes around non-alcoholic beer. Some brands might come at it from a weight-loss perspective, which just feels off the mark and really dilutes the message and feels not as inclusive as it could be. Or it gets pigeonholed into like, "Oh, if you are pregnant and you want beer…” It sort of has been so, again, just like stereotyped and pigeonholed in the past. So from Athletic standpoint, who is the athletic consumer? Like, who is the non-alcoholic beer consumer? How is it really for everyone? How does it sort of fit into everyone's lifestyle?

Dermot: Absolutely. It's funny. I have a pregnant lady to thank for me discovering Athletic. I was out at a restaurant and she was ordering this non-alcoholic beer. It wasn't even on my radar. And I kind of was just like, "Oh, what's that?" And my wife was like, "Oh, you should get one," so that's a story for another day. But, yeah. I think to answer your question, we have a slogan here, it's, “Without compromise.” And that's open to interpretation as to what that means. But to me, it's like being able to have a great tasting beer without compromising in other aspects of your day-to-day, right? 

So some of the things you mentioned, everyone's on their own journey when it comes to weight loss or any other motivation like that. We aren't out there to preach how a drink like Athletic can help you or hinder you in that kind of journey. But to me, I can have an Athletic in the morning, which I've done plenty of times, before a run, after a run, in the afternoon, in the evening, and just still go out, still go on about my day, go drive, go do whatever like nobody's business. So Athletic to me and other non-alcoholic beer and drinks and everything, they've always been this additive to my daily routine, kind of like your coffee in the morning or whatever it is. And then in terms of the consumer and the demographic, it runs the gamut. I've seen top-level athletes drinking our beer as their personal choice or sometimes even as a recovery drink. So the demographic of who drinks our beer, for whatever reason, it's definitely very vast and really pretty varied.

Courtney: Awesome. So another sort of element of that lifestyle and like we were saying before, with being able to really engage in the sort of craft beer world, even without alcohol--I think it's really cool that Athletic actually has a taproom, right, where people can go get that taproom experience. So why was that? Was that sort of always part of the plan? Was it always like, "We want to have a space," and why was that important? And what does that sort of bring to the Athletic brand?

Dermot: We're really proud of our taproom in Stratford, Connecticut, which was our first brewery. And we believe it was the first taproom in the nation that was like exclusive non-alcoholic beer. So we do our curbside pickups out of there. It's a taproom. We do events. People come from far and wide. We have, yeah, six rotating draft lines so people can come in. They get flights and take part in all the events that we do. And we've literally had, as I said, people come from all over. Chicago. Someone drove from Georgia. It was pretty crazy the lengths people will come to get their non-alcoholic crafts, and it just really humbles us and blows us away. So it's a really nice thing to have…

Our second [location] is in San Diego, and our third brewery is coming up in Milford, and we're in the planning stages of our taproom there. It's just that face to face that you get, it’s one of the many facets to our business. But that's the one where we really get to meet our customer kind of head-on and interact with them, and the real true feedback usually comes from there. And it's just a really important element to have in the community and big part of our business, so. We also run our pilot program out of there, which is like small-batch pilots. We've done that over the years. And some of those pilots we test kind of locally, and some of them go on to bigger and brighter things, coming into our rotation more as well. So it's another good use case for the taproom, for sure.

Hannah: I love that that also helps break the stigma of like, this truly is beer and a brewery, and you're not missing out on that brewery experience either. And it's not just, “This is just a non-alcoholic option,” and that's it. It's that you're getting the whole brewery aspect, the quality, the length of the flavors like Courtney had talked about earlier. I just think that was so smart to bring together that community too, and just continue to break down the stigma.

Dermot: Oh, for sure. It gets just as rowdy in there as any other brewery. [Laughs.] I'll tell you that much.

Hannah: I'm sure. Out by me, we have a kombucha--not hard kombucha--but just a regular kombucha taproom, and it's exactly the same. It is the exact same atmosphere, rowdiness. And so I can definitely picture that well.

Courtney: I love that. And speaking of that, I know Athletic does events, too. I've read about the Oktoberfest, and now that's definitely on my list to get to and experience. And I think that that--again, speaking to all of that, breaking down the sort of stigma, I think that's really important and really cool that you're like, "Yeah, you can do Oktoberfest without consuming alcohol." I mean, is there anything you want to talk about with Athletic's events or Oktoberfest in particular, sort of how those play out?

Dermot: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, Oktoberfest is a really fun one. I think we've done our third one last October. Well, it might have been the last week of September, but it's a really fun event. We put it on at the taproom every year. It coincides with our release of our Oktoberfest. And yeah, we have live music, amazing German food. And yeah, it's just incredibly fun. We get large numbers. We got hampered a little bit in 2020, I think, with COVID. But historically, it's just been a really fun event. 

Another really cool one that I was personally involved with and organizing, which I'm probably going to do again this year, was the Non-Alcoholic Beer Mile. So that speaks for itself. It's four laps around a track, and you chug a beer on each lap. So there's the regular version, the Beer Mile, which is actually a pretty competitive global event, believe it or not. They have the world championships in England, I believe, every year.

Hannah: Oh my god. 


Dermot: When I was planning this event, it all kind of landed in my lap. We happen to have on our roster of ambassadors, actually, the American record holder in the Beer Mile. His name is Chris Robertson. And his buddy is Corey Bellemore, who's the number one records holder in the Beer Mile, and he ran like a four-minute, 10--four-minute, 12, something like that, mile while chugging four beers. It blows my mind.

Hannah: That's just a slap in the face to everybody else, honestly. You're just bragging at that point. 


Dermot: And I'm like, "What's the chances?" So I was like, "Would you guys be interested in coming?" So long story short, they came out to Connecticut. We put on this event. HOKA [Shoes for Runners] was involved. It turned out to be…something that we were going to do for fun with like five or 10 people, we had 50, 60 runners. We had all these heats. And we used our Cerveza, which goes down really easy. I ran it; it's hard. It's not easy. After even that first chug and run, yeah, it's pretty rough. It took me nine minutes or something, but that's a really fun event. We're going to be doing some virtual NA beer miles this year and really try to spruce it up and do another kind of in-person later on in the year too, so if you're in, let me know. [Laughs.]

Hannah: I'm very intrigued. I've never lost fantasy football, but that's always our--the loser has to do the beer mile. So I think maybe we could get some other people interested.

Dermot: Nice.

Courtney: All right. I think it's time to start getting toward the beer itself, very excitingly. So before we actually get to some tastings here, what can you tell us--I think some people are a little, I don't know, confused, or just don't understand as much about just the actual science of brewing a non-alcoholic beer. Is there just anything you can share about the brewing process or how that all comes together?

Dermot: Yeah. Full disclaimer, I'm not a brewer, but I've definitely learned a lot more about beer and brewing in the last three years. So there are many kind of different methods of brewing non-alcoholic out there. Vacuum distillation, I believe, is one. Reverse osmosis. I think there's a couple of others. As far as [Athletic], I choose kind of like for the most part to remain ignorant about our particular process, but more so enjoy the end product. But our process is really very similar to normal beer. It undergoes a full fermentation, but they closely monitor certain variables along the way in the process, things like temperature and things like that, and they maintain a low level of alcohol. So we're unique in that sense in that nothing's being removed. So I think that really shows up in the kind of end product or the flavor in our beers, for sure.

Courtney: Was Run Wild the very first Athletic brew?

Dermot: Yeah. Upside Down, which is the golden ale, and Run Wild, they were our first brews, and still in many people's favorites here at Athletic. So definitely my first love. It was the first NA that I had, Run Wild. Yeah. Probably the first one I ever tasted besides an O'Douls, or Caliber, or something. Maybe beers I barely had a sip of to see what it was like. But yeah. Run Wild was, I believe, first, with Upside Down.

Courtney: Okay. I'm just curious if there's anything that you can sort of share about the brainstorming process behind the different styles, like why--we're about to get into some of the different options here, but what sort of guided, "We want to explore doing this style without alcohol"? How has the portfolio grown, and what has that concepting process been?

Dermot: From my understanding, Bill and John, in the beginning they spent almost a year brewing batch after batch, trying to perfect Run Wild and Upside Down. I believe, don't quote me, but they were in a basement, and doing home brew-type stuff, and--God bless them, because if I was in a basement trapped with someone for that long brewing bad batch after bad batch, I'd probably be going for the other person's throat. But it's really a testament to both of them. I've heard that story, and they really faced some big challenges. But they persisted with that, and stayed true to their vision, and nailed it. 

And I know Run Wild in particular--we came out with this series last year in our pilot program called Evolving Wilds. And it went back to those early days where they had some iteration of Run Wild. And they were like, "Oh, that's interesting,” and they put it up on the shelf like, "Let's do that later." So I know that they went to a lot of different places with their initial vision for Run Wild and it ended up being this particular thing. But, yeah. Brainstorming, our brewers are so talented, and they're always coming up with new beers and stuff I've never even heard of. And they really run it through that pilot program at the taproom and test its viability. And to me, they're wizards. So I'm sure they have good ideas for coming up with certain varieties, and a lot of it is over my head. But I just get to enjoy it all, so I'm really happy. [Laughs.]

Courtney: Not a bad gig there. All right. Well, let's get to some of the beers that we have. We have four ones in particular here, but I'll let you sort of--where should we begin? Which beer should we start with?

Dermot: I would probably start with the Upside Dawn, the golden ale.

Courtney: I'm going to pour that out. Here's the can for people watching this video.

Hannah:I'm also a huge fan of the artwork for the cans that it just--again…breaking the stigma. It just looks like a brewery…like a beer can. I love that.

Dermot: Yeah. Sure. I got some of the artwork [here] behind me. 

Hannah: Yeah. You're like double repping.

Dermot: Yeah. [Laughs.] For sure. Yeah, Upside Dawn. It's your classic golden ale, refreshing, balanced, light body. It's only 50 calories, and it's crafted to remove gluten as well. So it's one of those for the gluten-intolerant that they can enjoy as well. I always equate it to--I don't want to call it a lawnmower beer, but it is kind of my lawnmower beer, like I'm out there doing my lawn and sweating. And I want a beer, and that's the one I go for, so.

Courtney: Yeah. This is like a really classic--I know this is an overused word, but it just is very crushable.

Dermot: Right. Yeah. Exactly. So I don't have one in front of me. I went with the Free Wave today, but we'll get to that one too. I would say next, maybe Run Wild. We'll go up the hop level maybe. That's what I was thinking.

Courtney: So Run Wild is more West Coast, yeah?

Dermot: Yeah. Again, fairly balanced, kind of more piney, citrusy type aroma and taste to it.

Hannah: So is this your post-run beer?

Dermot: I guess so, I guess it would be. Yeah. It's always just my go-to. Sometimes you get going down the rabbit hole with some of the unique beers that are brewers come out with, and there's so much choice. And then I'll forget about Run Wild, how good it is. I'm like, "Oh, my God. I've missed you." You know what I mean? So definitely great after a run. It's great everywhere. If you like IPAs, it's really, really nice.

Courtney: It's that classic. And they're having a comeback in craft beer…the good old-fashioned West Coast IPA because it's not heavy. It's like this really crisp, beautiful concentration of the pineyness and some citrus. And I mean, you take a sip of Run Wild, and it's really easy to see why people really fell for this. Because it's like, "I can't believe this doesn't have alcohol in it." You cannot tell the difference. You know, you're getting a special, craft West Coast-style IPA.

Dermot: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And we found--we've done, obviously, tons of samplings and handouts and stuff. And you find people that don't typically like IPA that somehow end up loving ours. Sometimes people are scared of…the IPA went so far. This is just, as you said, that session IPA, and I don't know, there's something really unique about it. You're really tasting the hops. I always wonder--alcohol, obviously, enhances flavors to some degree, but I always think about the lack of it, I guess, when it's nonexistent. What does that mean? Are you truly tasting the hop? These are the things you think about when you're crushing non-alcoholic IPAs, so. [Laughs.]

Courtney: It does actually allow a little bit more introspection I feel like, right? On the flavor and aroma, you can really concentrate on the beverage at hand.

Dermot: Right. Yeah. I think so. So from there, we'd definitely go Free Wave, which Run Wild being my first love…if I was on a desert island and I could only have one crate of beer delivered to me on that desert island, Free Wave would be it, so. [Laughs.]

Hannah: What puts this one over the edge for you?

Dermot: I always just loved big hoppy IPAs. I'm sorry, that was my thing. And I remember the first time I had this, and I was like--I really couldn't believe it. I was like, "How did they manage to do this?" Tree House would have been one of my favorites or Trillium or one of those a few years back. I don't know. I was just getting all of that again, and I was like, "Man, this is unbelievable." So, yeah. Big kind of bold, hoppy, hazy IPA. I think the hops are Amarillo, Citra, and Mosaic. And I really should have it in the glass, but, sorry, I hopped on with just a can. I was in a bit of a rush, so.

Courtney: I mean, it can be enjoyed in any format. I do think--actually, that's so interesting. That's dead on. I think Free Wave is a beer that if you have someone who's, Trillium, Tree House, IPA obsessed, and they're like, "Oh, I could never drink a non-alcoholic beer," this could change that tune. This is up to that task.

Dermot: Yeah. I think so. Definitely on some of the forums and stuff I'm on, people talk about it a lot. And, yeah. It's one of our best sellers for sure.

Hannah: I feel like it's a misconception with non-alc beer too, that nothing can be hoppy. And like you were saying, I think some people think when you take the alcohol out that somehow the hops are gone too, and it's far from the case and you really do get to focus on those hop flavors. And I think for people that maybe don't focus on the different types hops and what that actually means…like you always see it when you read the description but you don't really know the difference between the types of hops, and I think that's great that you can kind of work on your palate as well.

Dermot: Yeah, yeah, for sure. 

And then the final one would be All Out, which is our extra dark. I've been enjoying this All Out over the winter, and I've always had an affinity for it. But even more so recently, my dad called me, and he was like, "I'm loving All Out." He's like, "This is amazing." My dad, he's Irish born and bred. He's probably drank more Guinness than there is water in the Atlantic. To hear him say that he'd done his first dry January really blew me away, and he got All Out in the local watering hole and everything. So yeah, if that screw could be turned, any screw can be turned, for sure. So I was really happy to hear that, so it made me just appreciate All Out a little bit more. But yeah, it's really full-bodied. Probably coffee, chocolate notes in there and yeah, just a really nice stout style for the fireplace in winter and whatever else you do over Christmas time, cuddle up with a blanket, probably.

Courtney: This one might be my favorite, actually. Or maybe just it's the newest one to me. I love it. By the way, over the weekend, I had this with--I happened to have a Graham cracker, and the combination, that was--a boring old Graham cracker has never been such a good snack as having it with this beer. It was very complimentary flavor notes there.

Dermot: Nice. I want to put a big scoop of vanilla ice cream in there. That's my next venture.

Hannah: That sounds amazing.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah.

Hannah: I was the most curious about this one, about this flavor because, I don't know why, I thought it would be the hardest to replicate. And just looking at the color, the color looks spot on.

Courtney: It does bridge a gap, I feel like, between a stout and--also sort of having a big moment now--dark lagers. Because it hits the stout's little bit of the sweetness, but it's definitely not too heavy and not too sweet. And it's got that subtle sort of roast to it, and it has a clean finish. It's just really well-balanced.

Dermot: Yeah, yeah. All that. I think it's 90 calories on that one, which is, again, blows my mind. I can probably have three or four of those and still be okay.

Hannah: It's amazing.

Courtney: So what kind of responses have you been noticing from consumers in terms of, are people reaching for All Out as a seasonal sort of indulgence? Are you seeing people be really shocked when they try any of these, at how good they are and everything?

Dermot: Usually, from my standpoint, I do a lot of samples. It's always fun to get out and get in front of people. And yeah, truthfully, there's always kind of that jaw-drop moment of like, "Man, I can't believe how good this tastes," and for a non-alcoholic, that's great. But I just feel like we're kind of at this point where we're being judged against--in the industry, at least…there's a bit of an even playing field now. Last year we won craft brewery of the year, through Brewbound, against alcoholic and non-alcoholic. So we're putting up a fight with the best of them, really, and kind of holding through that. We're kind of standing more shoulder to shoulder. But out in the market, yeah, the response has always been really positive, from kind of the existing base, plus any new consumers coming in, they, as I said before, really enjoy the choice, the variety, and the taste as well. So, yeah, really positive.

Courtney: Cool. So I think one sort of big area of enjoying craft beer is the food pairings and being able to cook or bake with it. So are these things that people can still do with non-alcoholic beer? And if so, are there any sort of tips, or any go-to recommendations from you?

Dermot: Yeah. Absolutely. I've seen lots of recipes pop up in some of the non-alcoholic forums that I'm involved in. But yeah, you can absolutely do the same things with non-alcoholic as alcoholic versions, beer battered fish and chips, or anything of that nature. I do have a bunch of recipes that I can share with you. I think they'll be linked in the description here on the podcast. [Editor’s note: Here are all those amazing recipes!

We have some jackfruit carnitas tacos. That's paired with our cerveza. We have All Out brownies, which are really, really nice. Yeah. That's something I could definitely indulge in more than once. But yeah, we have a whole variety.

Courtney: Yeah. We'll link to those. And people should definitely take pictures of what they make and tag Athletic and TapRm. Just saying.

Hannah: Absolutely.

Courtney: All right. Well, let's wrap things up here by looking to the future. Athletic has already done so much, and really done so much for the non-alcoholic market, for the craft beer space. It's like can you even…how much further can you go? But I'm sure that you have big things in the works. So do you want to just end by telling us what the future holds for Athletic Brewing Company?

Dermot: Yeah. On the ABC front, I'm excited. We have an amazing team. Collectively we've crossed a lot of bridges so far and done great things. And I think there's many more ahead of us, and we'll meet those challenges that are upcoming. 

But recently we've started to expand internationally. So I'm really excited to see that, entering markets where non-alcoholic has maybe had a head start. Which I didn't know, to be honest, I'm European and I didn't know that--I'm Irish and I didn't know that Ireland had a crazy non-alcoholic scene. But I know now. Germany, UK, places like that. 

So the foundation, what we built, it's really positive, really strong. Really looking forward to next chapters. We want to keep our heads down, make high quality non-alcoholic beer. That's definitely something we can control. Anything outside of that, tech, distribution, marketing, sales, whatever it is, it's a challenge that we kind of will rise to. 

And, as I said before as well, we're launching our third brewery in Milford. It's a massive facility. So we’re trying to keep up with demand, which is a really good problem to have. But that third brewery is another kind of huge milestone for us. So very exciting times ahead there. So yeah. Exciting times ahead. Onwards and upwards, as they say.

Courtney:Awesome. Well, I know we're excited. So yeah. This was really interesting, and so fun to go through all the different options here. So thank you so much for taking the time to walk us through everything.

Dermot: Thank you so much for having me on the show, Courtney and Hannah. It's been fun. Cheers.

Courtney: Cheers.

Hannah: Cheers, everyone. Looking forward to that Beer Mile next year.

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