Bell Brewery Sale; Founder retires, new Belgium owner takes over
Australian beer company Lion will buy flagship beer brand Bell’s Brewery from Michigan as owner Larry Bell looks to retire from the 36-year-old company. The sale puts Bell in alignment with New Belgium Brewery in Colorado, which was acquired by Lion in 2019.
Fans of Bell — which is distributed in 43 states and employs about 550 people, most of them in Michigan — should not expect any changes to products as the sale continues. Bell declined to specify the monetary value of the acquisition.
“I think what people can expect is the same,” Bell told the Detroit News. “More great beer, more values we hold dear in our culture here at Bell’s and bigger and better things. We still make great beer at Comstock, Kalamazoo, and Escanaba, our breweries here in Michigan.”
Bell said Bell’s and New Belgium — famous for their Fat Tire amber ale and Voodoo Ranger IPA — are actively investing in capital expenditures and growing their own breweries.
“New Belgium has been a huge success in the past two years since it was acquired by Lion. They have had incredible growth, hired people, and made more beer, which makes a lot of sense for all of us,” Bell said. .
Speaking from Kalamazoo Wednesday morning, Bell and New Belgium CEO Steve Fichheimer, a Michigan native, spoke about the move that places the two companies at the top of the craft beer market in the United States.
“That puts us at the top of the scale in terms of size,” said Fechheimer.
Both companies also have a commitment to the community and it will be expanded with this alignment as well. Bell’s will strive to be 100% carbon neutral by 2030 and will remain a part of the Michigan community by supporting events such as Kalamazoo Pride and Oberon Day.
“What we really appreciate when we talk to Larry and talk to his team – and we certainly liked this company long before we even started formal conversations about it – is that they run their business in many of the same ways,” said Fechheimer. The two companies’ commitment to society and the environment. “That’s part of what makes this such a great meeting of two craft beer icons is that there are so many similarities in the business and so much mutual respect.”
Looking at several decades in the industry, Bell said he has a lot to be proud of.
“I’ve had the opportunity to make all these great beers and we’ve been able to do great things in our community,” he said. “Heck, I’ve commissioned pieces of music and pieces of art and helped change laws in the legislature that really led to the craft revolution that Michigan went through. I think I can look at my career well done and feel really confident that my legacy, that The beer, and the culture we have built will be in the hands of our friends in New Belgium.”
Bell’s daughter, Laura Bell, a shareholder and member of the company’s board of directors, expressed her happiness and support in a media alert about the acquisition.
“Our mission as owners is to ensure the best future for Bell and I believe this step is an important and crucial part of our journey to continue the Bell legacy long into the future,” she said.
Larry Bell said he does not see any regulatory barriers preventing the sale to Lion from moving forward. Lion is a subsidiary of Japanese beverage giant Kirin.
Many of Michigan’s best craft brewers have also been sold or partially sold over the past few years. in 2017 Shorts sold out nearly 20% From its equity stake in Lagunitas Brewing Co., Ltd. , a subsidiary of Heineken International. Founders Brewing Co. sold. Majority majority to Mahou San Miguel group and in early 2020 in Detroit Atwater Beer announced that it will sell To the craft beer division of Molson Coors in the United States.