With the founder planning to retire, Bell’s Brewery, Comstock, Mich., has struck a deal to sell the regional brewer to Australia's Lion Pty, ultimately combining it with Lion's 2019 acquisition New Belgium.
Larry Bell founded Bell’s in 1985 and brewed its first beers in a 15-gallon soup kettle. "The folks at New Belgium share our ironclad commitment to the craft of brewing and the community-first way we’ve built our business," he told employees at a company event.
He promised beer drinkers should see no changes to Bell’s current beers, which are distributed across 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. And "Bell’s home is – and will remain – in Kalamazoo County [Michigan]," he added. Bell’s has operations in Comstock and Escanaba, Mich.
Bell’s Executive Vice President Carrie Yunker will continue to lead day-to-day operations for the brand, reporting to New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer, a Michigan native and longtime Bell’s drinker. The price was not disclosed. Lion itself has been owned by Japan brewer Kirin since 2009.
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 said.
Under New Belgium, Bell’s will seek B Corporation certification, 100% carbon neutrality by 2030, $1 per barrel philanthropy, and 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.