Lion buys Bell's Brewery

Two years after acquiring New Belgium Brewery, Lion has announced the purchase of Bell’s Brewing, the US’ seventh-largest craft brewery.

US beer writer Kate Bernot describes this sale on Good Beer Hunting as involving a brewery with “near-national sales, deep roots in the Midwest, and strong brands in craft beer’s most important categories”.

“A sale to Lion ensures a succession plan for Bell’s, which had been family-run for 36 years but had no clear second-generation leadership plan. Larry Bell hands over the brewery from a position of strength; it’s up to the buyer to continue that legacy.”

Lion’s expansion in the US comes as no surprise, with rumours of potential purchases surfacing following Little World Beverages’ Managing Director Matt Tapper relocating to the US last year. COVID had placed these plans on hold.

Little World Beverages had previously looked to take its Little Creatures brand to a global market with a network of brewpubs in Asia and San Francisco, though has closed its Asian venues and rebadged its San Francisco venue to New Belgium.

Lion announced the purchase of Australia’s largest independence seal-eligible brewery, Stone & Wood, in September.

More coverage on BrewBound.

Media Release

Bell’s Brewery acquisition establishes Lion as leading player in world’s largest craft beer market

Thursday, 11 November 2021:Australasian brewer,Lionhastodayannouncedthe acquisition of Michigan’s Bell’sBrewery,which will now come together with itsNew Belgium subsidiary.

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, with an extraordinary lineup of brands including the #1 IPA brand in the U.S., Voodoo Ranger, along with Fat Tire, Two Hearted Ale, and Oberon Ale.

Managing Director of Lion’s global craft beverages business, Matt Tappersaid that Bell’s history, outstanding brewing credentialsandbrand appealwould complement New Belgium and supportthe expansion ofLion’sUS operations.

“In terms of quality,capabilityand reputation,Bell’sis a standout in the American craft brewing scene.

“They’re a great match for New Belgium, another pioneering US craft brewerand both companies sharea deep commitment to their co-workers, communities and customers. We’rethrilled to be taking this next step in the United States and bringing these two great names in craft brewing together.

“Just asLion once crossed the Tasman to establish itself in Australia, now we have crossed the Pacific to forma leadingcraft beer business in the United States, the largest craft beer market in the world,”he added.

Founded in 1985 in Kalamazoo, Michigan,Bell’shas grown to become one of the largest craft brewers in the country, with distribution across 43 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Its flagship beers are national brands,and many have developed cult followings, including the Two Hearted Ale, voted the best beer in America on four consecutive occasions by members of the American Homebrewers Association.

Bell’sPresident Larry Bell, who brewed the company’s first beers in a 15-gallon soup kettle, said that the sale was predicated on thevalues and passion for brewingshared by Bellsand New Belgium.

“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, I’ve been doing this for more than 36years and now is the right time.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.”

MrTappersaid that Lion’s approach to working with New Belgium, acquired in 2019, hadpaved the way for strong growth in the United States.

“Since the successful acquisition of Colorado based New Belgium Brewing in2019it’s leading brand Voodoo Ranger has gone on to become thenumber oneselling IPA in the US, propelling New Belgium to be the fastest growing craftbeerbusiness in thecountry.”

“When we first partnered with New Belgium,we committed tonot only support their growth, butprotect and nurturetheiruniquehuman-powered business model.

“Thispurpose-led business model and connection to its community were values we shared, and which we’ve continued to build upon since New Belgium became part oftheLionfamily– with flagship brand Fat Tire becoming the first carbon neutral beer in the United States.

“We’re pleased that these values and the craft culture we’ve fostered at New Belgium were key factors in the creation of this new partnership with Bell’s, andLionlooksforward tosupporting both breweries in this next phase of growth.”

The transaction will close upon receipt of all regulatoryconsents, which is expectedin the coming months.


About Bell’s Brewing

Bell’s Brewery, Inc. began in 1985 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with Larry Bell, a quest for better beer and a 15-gallon soup kettle. Since then, Bell’s has grown into one of the largest craft breweries in America, distributing to 43 states, in addition to Puerto Rico and Washington DC. The dedication to brewingflavorful, unfiltered, quality craft beers that started when Larry was a homebrewer continues today with iconic brands such as Oberon Ale and Two Hearted Ale, as well asLight HeartedAle and Official Hazy IPA. Bell’s currently brews more than 20 beers for distribution out of its Comstock brewery as well as many small-batch beers that are served at the Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo. Over the years, Bell’s has become an industry leader in safety,qualityand human resources, and has paved the way for the hundreds of craft breweries across Michigan. Bell’s ongoing goal is to brew thoughtful, creative, and artistic ales, and strives to make craft beer welcoming and open to all. For more information, please

About New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium was founded in 1991 in Fort Collins, Colorado, by Kim Jordan, a social worker, who built her company the only way a social worker would: People first. Early on, New Belgium established norms that were and still are rare in the business world: fully paid healthcare premiums for coworkers, paying a living wage, open-book management, renewable energy sourcing, a free onsite medical clinic staffed by a doctor trained in trans medicine, and more – practices that, all together, represent a unique ‘human-powered’ business model that continues to evolve. New Belgium expanded to Asheville, N.C., in 2016; Denver, Colo., in 2018, and San Francisco in 2020. The company is famous for its flagship beer, Fat Tire Amber Ale, along with year-round favorites like Voodoo Ranger IPA, Dominga Mimosa Sour, and La Folie Sour Brown Ale; as well as an award-winning wood-aged sour program and innovative limited release beers. To learn more about New Belgium, visit

About Lion

Lion is a leading beverage company headquartered in Sydney, Australia. With origins dating back 180 years, Lion is known for its commitment to quality, craftsmanship,communityand sustainability. Lion is a pioneer in brewing and continues to innovate across a range ofadult beverages. Its core beer portfolio includes many locally loved brands such as XXXX, Little Creatures, James Squire, Emerson’s, Speights and Panhead, more recently adding international craft brandsFourpure, Magic Rock and New Belgium to the fold. Lion also has an enviable portfolio of NZ wine brands, a premium fine wine business in North America and shareholdings in Four Pillars Gin, Remedy Kombucha andSchibelloCoffee. Lion employs close to 4,000 people across Australia, New Zealand, theUKand the U.S.

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