095: Jeff Stevens (WellBeing Brewing)

Jeff Stevens on Innovation City

“Raising money is hard, but you stumble through it…you work your way through every phase of the [startup] process.” — Jeff Stevens

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Jeff Stevens, Founder of WellBeing Brewing. WellBeing Brewing is a craft brewing company that is solely dedicated to brewing non-alcoholic craft beer. Jeff sits down with the team to discuss how he got started brewing NA beer, the non-alcoholic brewing process, acceptance in the craft beer community, marketing and selling NA beer nationally, the struggle of raising money for your venture, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Stopping drinking at age 24, but loving nightlife and going out with friends/family
  • Working in the marketing world for several years on beer and spirits accounts
  • After the micro-brewing market started to kick off, he realized that there were no good options for non-alcoholic beer drinkers
  • WellBeing is one of the first breweries dedicated to solely offering non-alcoholic beer
  • Non-alcoholic beer is difficult to make, which Jeff feels is the reason companies don’t do it
  • Stop fermentation process doesn’t allow the beer to ferment and create the alcohol
    • This process creates a very sweet beer
  • Going through a regular fermentation process is fine, but you have to boil the alcohol out
    • This process ruins the flavoring
  • WellBeing uses a machine made in Munich, Germany called a vacuum distillation machine
  • The machine puts the finished beer into a vacuum, lowers the boiling temperature to room temperature, and gently removes the alcohol from the beer
    • This process keeps the flavors, aromas, and mouth feel in tact
  • The stigma that typically comes with being sober in a nightlife setting
  • Working with beer and spirits companies in his marketing days gave him a network of people to reach out to for support/help getting started
  • Working with O’Fallon Brewing Company
  • WellBeing’s presence has caused some controversy in the beer community with many questioning the definition of beer and if NA beer fits in
  • All NA beers have less than 0.5% alcohol (the equivalent of a banana)
  • Looking to make a 0.0% beer for those who cannot drink any alcohol at all
  • NA beer could be compared to soda in terms of sugar and calorie content
  • The struggle of selling in retail locations and getting recognition
  • Heineken recently released a 0.0% beer, which helped recognition of NA beers globally
  • NA beer can be shipped directly to the consumer, whereas regular beer cannot
  • WellBeing started selling online and shipping to customers as soon as they could
  • News articles and word of mouth have helped market the brand
  • The challenge Jeff had of learning the business and e-commerce side of starting a company
  • Going through the Square One Ignite Program
    • 12 week program
    • Helped him through all stages of getting the business off the ground
  • The struggle of raising money for your venture
  • Getting funding support from Nvsted – WellBeing was the first company Nvsted funded
  • Getting to the point of breaking even, allowing increasing revenue to follow
  • New beers in the coming months
    • A sport beer with electrolytes (Michelob Ultra X Gatorade)
    • Possibility of a CBD-infused beer
  • Reach out to WellBeing on their website to learn more or place an order
  • Connect with Jeff via email