Go Brewing is poised to become the next hot brand in the rapidly expanding non-alcoholic craft beer market. Founded less than three years ago by a husband and wife team out of a garage in Naperville, a western suburb of Chicago, it’s following a trail blazed just a few years ago by industry leader Athletic Brewing Company, the first U.S. non-alcoholic brewery ever.
But, unlike other startup breweries, both full strength and non-alc, that are heavily constrained by the financial hurdles that new brands must overcome to scale, Go Brewing had a head start. Its co-founder, Joe Chura, successfully sold two digital marketing companies designed for auto sales to Cars.com in 2018 for $165 million. That financial freedom enabled Chura to fully self-fund and hire a professional brewer from day one to help develop recipes and avoid contract brewing his brews.
Instead, he built Go Brewing from the ground up in a manner more reminiscent of the early days of the craft beer movement. Incorporated in 2021, it started selling its products from its own brewery and tap room and online in early 2023. That aligned with the brewery’s mission, “To make the best non and low-alcohol craft beer on the planet.” Its commitment to quality was evident when the brand earned a gold and silver medal at the 2023 Best of Craft Beer Awards three months after launch.
“I knew from day one that we were entering a developing market and that the worst thing we could do was rush into it with poorly crafted beers. For so long, non/low alcohol beer has been an afterthought, something everyone ignored, but not today. Consumers are clamoring for great-tasting products.” says Chura. “I always knew we could be scaled if consumers loved our beers, and we stayed committed to intelligent growth that ensured we did not compromise.”
That focus on delivering a quality product to consumers could quickly vault Go Brewing into the upper ranks of a field looking to mimic the success of the Athletic Brewing Company. Launched in 2017, it is now the thirteenth largest craft brewer in the United States. Their success shines a spotlight on consumer interest in non-alcoholic beverages.
Low/no-alcohol volumes grew by 5% in 2023 in the world’s ten most significant markets and are now worth $13 billion, according to a report from IWSR. Non-alcoholic beers and ciders make up 72% of that volume.
In their brightly colored cans brimming with a street art ethos, Go Brewing’s offerings are continually adapting to meet the demands of its fans. IPAs, pilsners, sours, and pale ales are all on tap and offered for purchase. Since their products can enter almost every beverage market in America due to the absence of alcohol, the company has done robust sales in its first year online. According to Chura, data analysis has been an integral part of their business, pulling buying pattern information from their sales platform and looking at industry-wide statistics.
Go Brewing’s growth strategy is to grow its distribution footprint beyond its Midwest birthplace. They recently expanded to four states, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, with plans to double that number by the end of the year. To ensure they can meet the expected demand, they are preparing to expand their 9,000 sq-foot production space by 5X and add a bevy of new equipment.
According to Chura, Go Brewing sold more beer in the first three days of 2024 than in the entire first quarter of 2023, when they sold 2,000 barrels of beer. Forecasts for 2024 call for that number to increase to 7,000 barrels. While that lags way behind the 250,000 barrels that the Athletic sold in 2023, it shows that there is room for another player in the non-alcoholic craft beer market. Go Brewing might just be that brand.