Athletic Brewing takes over Ballast Point’s HQ

The country’s largest non-alcoholic beer company makes its acquisition of San Diego’s largest brewing facility official

Though word has been spreading throughout the local brewing industry for more than a month, both of the parties actually involved in a major business deal involving San Diego’s largest beer manufacturing facility have remained tight-lipped. For the former operators of that facility, Ballast Point Brewing and its parent-company Kings & Convicts Brewing, it was a legal matter, as they were contractually obligated not to disclose who had purchased their former headquarters on Carroll Way in San Diego’s Miramar community. As far as the buyer, they weren’t yet ready to make things official. But that all changed today, with the country’s largest non-alcoholic beer company, Athletic Brewing, sharing that it has purchased that 107,000-square-foot facility.

The deal closed on May 31, and while it includes the site’s 300-barrel and 150-barrel brewhouses, cellar, packaging line, QA lab and business offices, its bar-and-restaurant component will continue to be operated by Kings & Convicts as a Ballast Point-branded public venue for at least the next 18 months. This, however, will be the full extent of the former site owner’s presence at the brewery, which originally went online in 2014. 

No Kings & Convicts employees were included in the Athletic transaction, and moving forward, Ballast Point’s beers will be brewed on a contract basis by an undisclosed brewing partner. And despite reports that the company which acquired the Miramar facility would fulfill that contract-brewer role, Athletic ownership says that is not the case. In fact, company co-founder and Chief Product Officer John Walker says the facility will not be operational for the next year-and-a-half while it undergoes renovations and enhancements.

“We plan to utilize the capacity at Carroll Way to its fullest with the addition of a brand-new, state-of-the-art packaging hall capable of filling 1,200 cans per minute, and implementing some amazing brewing technology which will enhance sustainability as we continue to reduce our use of one of our most precious resources – water,” says Walker. “Our team will take the next 18 months to make efficiency and food-safety modifications while we build the packaging hall, and we look forward to the day when we can fire up both the main and the pilot brewhouses.”

Launched in 2018 in Milford, Connecticut, Athletic is the number one non-alcoholic beer brand in the U.S., with over 19% market share. It is also the 10th largest craft brewing company in the country by-volume – and 20th largest overall – according to industry trade organization, the Brewers Association. The company has seen 62% year-over-year growth in the past 12 months, and its beers are currently available at over 50,000 retailers and 25,000 on-premise venues nationwide.

Once a punchline, non-alcoholic beer is now the most exciting beverage in coolers across the country. Thanks to our ongoing investment, consumers finally have a product they are proud to hold in their hands and share with friends and family. More people than ever are excited about Athletic, and this expansion will allow us to efficiently and sustainably scale our capacity in anticipation of meeting increasing wholesaler, retailer and consumer demand for years to come.”

Bill Shuffelt, Co-founder & CEO, Athletic Brewing

It was another deal with Kings & Convicts that marked the beginning of Athletic’s tenure in the San Diego brewing scene. In 2020, the non-alcoholic concern acquired Ballast Point’s former sour-beer and barrel-aging warehouse, across the street from the Carroll Way facility. The deal was announced one week after Kings & Convicts’ acquisition of Ballast Point from previous owner, Constellation Brands, officially closed.

Athletic will retain the Trade Street facility and continue operating it once the Carroll Way brewery is up and running. Adding the latter will allow Athletic to double its maximum brewing capacity from 500,000 barrels annually to approximately 1,000,000. The company intends to produce both core and limited-edition non-alcoholic beers from the new location. Athletic’s employee count is currently around 250, about a third of which are based on the West Coast. The company will analyze its staffing needs following the renovation of the Carrol Way facility.

“The future of modern adult beverages is bright, and we’re excited to continue shaping it,” says Shuffelt. “We can’t wait to get to work and strengthen our roots in the San Diego brewing community.”

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