Lion acquires US craft brewer, Bell’s Brewery

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/thegoodbrigade
Pic:getty/thegoodbrigade

Related tags: Lion, Craft beer, Us

Australasian brewer Lion will acquire Michigan, US brewer Bell’s Brewery: establishing a strong foothold in the world’s largest craft beer market.

Kirin-owned Lion entered the US craft beer market in 2019 with the acquisition of Colorado’s New Belgium Brewery,​ then the fourth largest craft brewery in the US. The combination of Bell’s (the seventh largest US craft brewer) and New Belgium places the company at the top of the US craft beer market in sales volume and growth.

Founded in 1985 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bell’s has distribution across 43 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Its flagship beers are national brands: and include Two Hearted Ale, voted the best beer in America on four consecutive occasions by members of the American Homebrewers Association. 

Founder and president Larry Bell will retire, selling his stake in Bell’s to Lion. “To keep Bell’s a strong and stable brewery for generations to come, we need someone to run it with the same energy and passion that I’ve had for these past decades,” he said.

“That’s why Bell’s finalized a sale agreement that will see us join forces with New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado. By bringing together two of the largest and fastest-growing craft brand families in the country and unifying our companies under a single business model, we’re creating one of the best and largest craft portfolios in the country.”

US growth for Lion

Bell’s will complement New Belgium and support expansion of Lion’s US operations, according to Matt Tapper, managing director of Lion’s global craft beverages business.

“Just as Lion once crossed the Tasman to establish itself in Australia, now we have crossed the Pacific to form a leading craft beer business in the US, the largest craft beer market in the world,”​ he said. 

“Since the successful acquisition of Colorado based New Belgium Brewing in 2019 its 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.”

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

Lion's core beer portfolio includes Australian brands such as XXXX, Little Creatures,​ James Squire, Emerson’s, Speights and Panhead. More recently, it has been adding international craft brands such as Fourpure​ and Magic Rock​ in the UK. 

Related topics: Craft, Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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