Larry Bell, founder of Bell’s Brewery in Comstock (near Kalamazoo), has reached an agreement to sell the business to Australian brewer Lion. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
This sale aligns Bell’s with Fort Collins, Colo. craft brewery New Belgium, purchased by Lion in 2019. Bell, who founded Bell’s in 1985, announced his retirement from company alongside the announcement of the sale at the company’s annual all-employee event.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together,” says Bell. “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.”
The combination of the two breweries places the expanded company atop the U.S. craft beer market in sales volume and growth, with a lineup of brands that includes Voodoo Ranger and Fat Tire from New Belgium, and Two Hearted Ale and Oberon Ale form Bell’s, amongst many more.
“This decision ultimately came down to two determining factors,” says Bell. “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.”
Through the alignment, Bell’s will expand on its commitments to coworkers, communities, and customers by adopting many new business practices and commitments, including seeking B Corporation certification, 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2030, $1 per barrel philanthropy, and a 100 percent score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.
After the sale closes in the coming months, beer drinkers should expect no changes to Bell’s current roster of beers, which are distributed in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Carrie Yunker, executive vice president, will continue to lead day-to-day operations for the brand.
“In Bell’s, we see a likeminded group of people dedicated to making the world’s best beer — doing business in a way that improves the wellbeing of the people who power our success,” says Steve Fechheimer, New Belgium CEO and a Michigan native and longtime Bell’s drinker.
“We couldn’t be happier to welcome the entire Bell’s team. Joining together will immediately strengthen our ability to serve and expand the craft community, deliver more value for our partners, and continue to redefine how business is done in a world facing historic economic, social, and environmental challenges. Personally, I can’t wait to celebrate Oberon Day in 2022.”