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Another top U.S craft brewery enters Lion’s den

Just days after their purchase of Stone & Wood’s parent company was given the green light, Kirin-owned Lion have announced they’re acquiring Bell’s Brewery – America’s seventh largest craft beer producer – and will merge it with their New Belgium Brewing subsidiary which they purchased in 2019. Combined, the two will sit atop the U.S craft beer market in terms of sales volume, with a line-up of brands that include New Belgium’s widely popular Voodoo Ranger IPA and Fat Tire Amber Ale plus Bell’s Two Hearted Ale which had been voted the best beer in America on four consecutive occasions by the American Homebrewers Association.

Founded in 1985 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bell’s has grown to become the 16th largest overall U.S brewery with distribution across 43 states. Outgoing president and founder Larry Bell said in a statement the decision to sell came down to two determining factors, while in the video below he said his own recent health issues had been part of the reasoning as well.

“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 36 years 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.”

Lion Little World Beverages managing director Matt Tapper, who moved from Australia to the U.S last year in a clear signal their 2019 purchase wouldn’t be an isolated one, said their approach to working with New Belgium had paved the way for strong growth in the United States.

“Since the successful acquisition of Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing in 2019 it’s leading brand Voodoo Ranger has gone on to become the number one selling IPA in the US, propelling New Belgium to be the fastest growing craft beer business in the country.

“When we first partnered with New Belgium, we committed to not only support their growth, but protect and nurture their unique human-powered business model.

“This purpose-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 of the Lion family – 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, and Lion looks forward to supporting both breweries in this next phase of growth.”

The transaction will close upon receipt of all regulatory consents, which is expected in the coming months.  

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