Brewbound Announces 2021 Award Winners and Risings Stars

Brewbound’s 2021 award winners and class of rising stars were announced today during the multimedia trade publication’s annual business conference in Santa Monica, California.

The Brewbound Awards recognize both large and small beer companies that thrived over the last year, while also celebrating notable industry figures, change agents, up-and-coming entrepreneurs and philanthropic initiatives.

Winners of the eighth annual Brewbound Awards include:

Craft Brewery of the Year: Athletic Brewing Company. The non-alcoholic beer maker has taken a stigmatized segment of the beer market and transformed it into a growth sector that is creating new occasions for the beer category.

Large Brewery of the Year: Firestone Walker. A year after on-premise closures cost the Paso Robles, California-headquartered craft brewery 30% of its business, the company is poised to finish 2021 up 20%. Without bars and restaurant sales, Firestone Walker shifted its focus to off-premise chains, with its team securing a company record 14,000 new points of distribution. The company also line extended its 805 Blonde Ale with 805 Cerveza, which is poised to expand its footprint following a successful launch in test markets.

Person of the Year: Steve Fechheimer, CEO of New Belgium. Fechheimer has helped build the Fort Collins, Colorado-headquartered company into a 1 million barrel brewery, driven by the IPA-focused Voodoo Ranger line. Keeping with New Belgium’s ethos, he has drawn attention to the climate crisis. He also helped guide the acquisition of Bell’s Brewery, a deal that marks another transformational moment in craft brewing.

Cause of the Year: Brave Noise. Brienne Allan, Ash Eliot, Ren Navarro and Jen Blair launched the collaboration beer project that honors the thousands of women who shared their stories of discrimination, harassment, sexual assault and racism while working in the brewing industry. So far, more than 150 breweries in 31 states and 4 countries have signed up to brew Brave Noise. Each participating brewery is asked to link to their code of conduct through a QR code on the beer’s label and to donate proceeds to a non-profit organization that works to create safer spaces in the beer and hospitality industries.

Beer Champion of the Year: The Massachusetts Brewers Guild. The Bay State’s craft brewers finally achieved franchise law reform through the efforts of guild president Sam Hendler, guild executive director Katie Stinchon and Atlas Distributing owner Joe Salois. As part of the compromise, breweries that produce fewer than 250,000 barrels of beer over a 12-month period would be allowed to terminate their wholesaler contracts at any time by giving 30 days’ notice and paying “fair market value” for their brand rights.

Beyond Beer Company of the Year: E. & J. Gallo for High Noon Sun Sips. High Noon Sun Sips is now a top-five hard seltzer franchise. As the beverage alcohol lines continue to blur, the spirits-based vodka soda line has succeeded at trading up consumers to a premium price point.

Brewbound also honored its 2021 Rising Stars. The eight emerging alcoholic beverage companies include:

  • BeatBox Beverages, Austin Texas
  • DaleView Biscuits & Beer, Brooklyn, New York
  • Holidaily Brewing Co. Golden, Colorado
  • JuneShine Hard Kombucha, San Diego, California
  • Monkish Brewing, Torrance, California
  • Sloop Brewing, East Fishkill, New York
  • Sycamore Brewing, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Zero Gravity, Burlington, Vermont

“Brewbound is proud to honor our 2021 Award winners and Rising Stars,” Brewbound editor Justin Kendall said. “2021 presented brewers with an unrelenting onslaught of headwinds. In the face of these challenges, our Award winners and Rising Stars pressed on, created new areas of opportunity, and advocated for a better industry and world.”

About Brewbound

Published by Inc., Brewbound is a leading multi-media industry trade publication providing comprehensive coverage of the beer space, analysis of industry trends and in-depth interviews with industry leaders. In addition to providing daily news, Brewbound also gathers entrepreneurs and executives to exchange ideas, discuss the state of the industry and hear strategies for succeeding in the alcohol beverage segment via a series of nationwide meetups, multi-day business conferences, live-streamed shows and podcasts.