KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Bell’s Brewery Founder Larry Bell announced Wednesday that he has reached an agreement with Lion – an Australian brewer – to sell Bell’s.
Lion acquired Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing in 2019, so the move will see the Michigan-based craft brewer come together with New Belgium.
Bell, who founded the company in 1985, also announced his retirement.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together,” Bell said. “From our wonderful fans, to the amazing team that has helped share our beer with the world, to the ways we’ve been able to invest in causes we believe in – this has been an absolutely incredible journey.
“This decision ultimately came down to two determining factors. First, the folks at New Belgium share our ironclad commitment to the craft of brewing and the community-first way we’ve built our business. Second, this was the right time. I’ve been doing this for more than 36 years and recently battled some serious health issues. I want everyone who loves this company like I do to know we have found a partner that truly values our incredible beer, our culture and the importance of our roots here in Michigan.”
The combination of Bell’s and New Belgium places the expanded company at the top of the U.S. craft beer market in sales volume and growth.
"The two companies are going to combine, and it’ll be a juggernaut of craft beer for the U.S. Both companies have a lot of respect for each other. I think this was a really good opportunity for us, a very elegant way to exit the industry for me," said Bell.
After the sale closes in the coming months, beer drinkers should expect no changes to Bell’s current beers, which are distributed across 43 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
"For the average Bell’s drinker, really nothing is going to change, you know, Bell’s will become a B Corporation, and it will be perhaps even more dedication to the sustainability and social causes that we have always had belief in," said Bell.
Bell’s employees will keep working mainly out of Kalamazoo, with their breweries operating as usual.
"It may be my name on the bottles and cans, but it is the people who work here who make it Bell’s. I thank them for all of their years of support. This community has just been great to us," said Bell.
“We are thrilled to be taking this next step in the United States, bringing these two great names in craft brewing together,” said Matt Tapper, managing director of Lion’s global craft beverages business. “We look forward to continuing to support both Bell’s and New Belgium in this next phase of growth.”