The parent company of New Belgium Brewing Co. has acquired Michigan-based Bell’s Brewery, merging two of the country’s pioneering craft breweries under one umbrella.
Bell’s Brewery founder Larry Bell announced the deal with Australia’s Lion Little World Beverages, which acquired Fort Collins-founded New Belgium in 2019, and his plans to retire during the company’s all employee meeting, according to an announcement Wednesday. Lion is a subsidiary of Kirin Holdings Company.
Once the deal is complete, it will create the fifth-largest craft brewery control group, Brewbound reported, behind Anheuser-Busch’s Brewers Collective, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Molson Coors’ Tenth & Blake, and Boston Beer Company.
Both New Belgium and Bell’s Brewery are production powerhouses. In 2020, New Belgium brewed 975,000 barrels of beer between its facilities in Fort Collins, Asheville, N.C., Denver and San Francisco, according to the Brewers Association. With two breweries in Michigan, Bell’s produced 466,539 barrels in 2020, making it the sixth largest independently owned manufacturer in 2020, the BA reported.
“In Bell’s, we see a like-minded 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,” said Steve Fechheimer, New Belgium’s CEO and a Michigan native, in a statement. “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.”
As part of the merger, Bell’s plans to expand on environmental sustainability and workplace inclusivity initiatives. According to the announcement, the brewery committed to achieving 100% carbon neutrality by 2030, attaining Certified B Corporation status, dedicating $1 per barrel to philanthropy, and scoring 100% on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.
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There are no plans to change Bell’s lineup of beer, meaning drinkers won’t see changes to the ever-popular Two Hearted IPA, Oberon wheat ale and other staples. Bell’s currently distributes to 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Though Bell is stepping down, Carrie Yunker, the brewery’s vice president who has been with the company for 18 years, will continue to lead daily operations. John Mallett, Bell’s VP of operations, will join the leadership team and focus on integrating the two breweries.
Bell’s currently employs 550 people.
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