Lion acquires New Belgium Brewing: gaining 'immediate scale' in the US craft market

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Lion acquires US craft brewer New Belgium Brewing

Related tags Craft beer Lion Kirin Us

Lion Little World Beverages – the craft division of Kirin’s Australian beverage business Lion – will acquire New Belgium Brewing in the US.

Founded in 1991 in Colorado, New Belgium Brewery is now the fourth largest craft brewery in the US, according to Brewers Association figures, with locations in Colorado and California, and distribution across all 50 states.

The acquisition gives Lion Little World Beverages ‘immediate scale’ in the US craft market, which it entered earlier this year with a microbrewery for Aussie craft brand Little Creatures in San Francisco.​ Lion has also recently acquired UK craft beer brands Fourpure​ and Magic Rock​, while Little Creatures also has venues in London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Expanding Kirin's craft portfolio beyond Australasia

Established in 2015, Lion Little World Beverages is the global craft beverage business of Australia headquartered Lion. The division has been given the task of leading Japanese parent company Kirin’s global craft beer strategy beyond Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Of particular interest is the pioneering US craft beer market: while the craft craze has extended well beyond its borders, the US still represents two thirds of the global craft beer market by volume. 

Stuart Irvine, Lion CEO, said: "We’re excited to welcome New Belgium Brewing into the Lion fold and take a significant step forward in the largest craft beer market in the world. We’re confident that our shared values and commitment to purpose and culture will provide the foundation for a great partnership in the US.

“Today’s announcement is an important milestone as we look to drive growth in markets beyond Australia, New Zealand and Japan.”

New Belgium Brewing’s brands include Fat Tire Amber Ale and Voodoo Ranger IPA, and it has two state-of-the-art brewing facilities in Fort Collins, Colorado and Asheville, North Carolina, alongside a national distribution platform.

New Belgium Brewing headquarters will remain in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Steve Fechheimer will continue as CEO with the management team remaining in place. Co-founder Kim Jordan will also play a key advisory role in collaborating with the Lion Little World Beverages network, ‘ensuring the core tenets of craft beverages are aligned with the strategic vision for Lion Little World Beverages in the US and around the world.’

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2019, pending approvals by regulators and the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in addition to other customary closing conditions.

Lion Little World Beverages also has a wine portfolio in the US: including Argyle Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, MacRostie Winery from the Sonoma Coast, and Markham Vineyards in the Napa Valley.It also imports Wither Hills from Marlborough, New Zealand, and represents contemporary wine brands TEXTBOOK Napa Valley and The Counselor from the Alexander Valley.

Related topics Manufacturers Beer & cider Craft Beer

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