New Bells-gium – New Belgium Brewing and Lion Acquires Bell’s Brewery

New Bells-gium – New Belgium Brewing and Lion Acquires Bell’s Brewery

New Belgium Brewing and their parent company Lion purchase Bell’s Brewery

Blockbuster News

Talk about a blockbuster news story today. I’ve been a bit under the weather the past two days, so apologies for posting this late, but wow, what blockbuster news we got today in the craft beer world. I first saw it while half – awake / half – asleep (while sitting on my back patio in the sun, trying to feel better, while reading a book and dozing in and out of sleep) – a Facebook post by New Belgium Brewing where they were saying the thing missing from Fat Tire was a ‘bell’ attached to the bike… and I didn’t really read it and just skimmed it, thinking they were talking about a collaboration between the two, and promptly dozed off in the gorgeous Pennsylvania November warm sun. (Two years in a row now during this week we have had fantastic weather.)

Then, later on in the day, my phone blew up with four different friends all messaging me with the news. And after taking care of a few things, and starting to feel better, I dug down into this and did some reading and writing this article up. (And maintaining our daily article count for November.)

New Belgium

New Belgium Brewing Company is one of the bigger names in the craft beer industry – as far as still genuinely is craft beer. According to their Untappd page New Belgium Brewing Company:

New Belgium Brewing is a nationally distributed brewery recognized as a leader in sustainability and social responsibility. Founded in 1991 in Fort Collins, Colorado, the company expanded to Asheville, North Carolina, in 2016 and Denver, Colorado, in 2018, and is now the fourth largest craft brewery in the U.S. Dedicated to proving that business can be a force for good, New Belgium is a Certified B-Corp and was the first brewery to join 1% for the Planet. The brewery has donated over $26 million to charitable causes since 1991. New Belgium is famous for its flagship beer, Fat Tire Amber Ale, along with year-round favorites like Voodoo Ranger IPA 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 the full product line-up and New Belgium’s Human powered Business model, visit

Untappd: New Belgium

Interestingly, Untappd lists them as a ‘macro’ brewery. They have 429 unique beers with a global average rating of 3.63 (as of 11.10.21) with over 8.62Million check-ins and 1.2Million (+) being unique check-ins. They are listed as a subsidiary of Kirin Brewing Company.

New Belgium is best known for their Fat Tire and VooDoo Ranger IPA series. If you go to any Sheetz, Rutters, Exxon, or other beer selling gas station, or any distributor, you will see a large range of New Belgium brews on the shelves in six packs and four packs, in both cans and bottles. They certainly command a strong shelf presence; right up there with the ABV InBev owned “craft breweries” (Goose Island, Blue Moon, Elysian, etc.).

Bell’s Brewery

Once again dipping back into Untappd, let’s take a look at Bell’s Brewery’s page:

Bell’s began in 1985 with a quest for better beer and a 15 gallon soup kettle. The dedication to brewing flavorful, unfiltered, quality craft beers that started in 1985 is still with us today. We currently brew over 20 beers for distribution as well as many other small batch beers that are served at our pub in Kalamazoo, the Eccentric Cafe. Our ongoing goal is to brew thoughtfully, creatively and artistically. 100% family-owned and independent. Bell’s Brewery, Comstock, Michigan

Untappd: Bell’s Brewery

On Untappd, Bell’s Brewery is listed as a Regional Brewery with 486 unique beers and a global average rating (as of 11.10.21) of 3.85. They have a total of 7.36Million (+) check-ins with 967,019 (as of 8:41PM) being unique check-ins.

Bell’s Brewery has a pretty large distribution footprint similar to other large or regional breweries; such as Founders (another Michigan brewery). Some of their bigger or more well known brews are Oberon, Hopslam, Two Hearted Ale, and Expedition Stout.

Two Hearted Ale is one of the more celebrated ‘all around’ easy drinking beers that makes numerous lists. And Hoslam is a seasonal favorite right on par with Nugget Nectar and Mad Elf; a beer people set their watches to (or I guess calendars to).

The Merge

This is certainly going to be one of the bigger merges of craft breweries…. in a long time. Up there with ABV InBev buying Wicked Weed or Goose Island; or the Samuel Adams and Dogfish Head agreement; and bigger than the Victory and Southern Tier agreement.

You can watch Larry Bell’s retirement video that was posted to the Bell’s Brewery YouTube page below:

Larry Bell announces his retirement and the acquisition of Bell’s Brewery by New Belgium

You can view their YouTube channel here: Bell’s Brewery on YouTube.

As he says above in the video, he incorporated the company when he was 25 years old in 1983 and has ran as president of operations for the 38 years since. He is stepping down and announcing his retirement due to many factors, but the notable one being age and health issues.


KALAMAZOO, MI — Bell’s Brewery is set to become the second major American craft brewing company to be acquired by Lion, an Australian-based beverage company with a growing international portfolio.

Lion recently purchased Fort Collins, Colorado-based, New Belgium Brewing Co. in 2019.

Bell’s founder and president Larry Bell told the Kalamazoo Gazette/MLive Wednesday that the board of directors at Bell’s voted in January to begin exploring the sale of the company. Upper Hand Brewery in Escanaba, which Bell opened in 2014 in Escanaba, will also be part of the sale. – Bell’s Brewery Being Bought by Australian Company that Purchased New Belgium Brewing in 2019

From Brewpublic:

By aligning with New Belgium, Bell’s will expand on its own commitments to coworkers, communities, and customers by adopting many hallmark, human-powered business practices – including seeking B Corporation certification, 100% carbon neutrality by 2030, $1 per barrel philanthropy, and 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. Bell’s fans can expect the same meaningful involvement with the Michigan community, driven by events like Oberon Day and supporting Kalamazoo Pride, which have been core to the company’s vision and values from the beginning.

“In Bell’s, we see a likeminded 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 New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer, a Michigan native and longtime Bell’s drinker. “We couldn’t be happier to welcome the entire Bell’s team. 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. Personally, I can’t wait to celebrate Oberon Day in 2022!”

Over its 30 years in business, New Belgium has pioneered a unique ‘human-powered’ business model grounded in the idea that building the most successful and resilient business requires prioritizing the prosperity of coworkers, communities, and customers across the company’s operations. This novel approach has been the foundation for New Belgium’s industry-leading growth and standout ability to reach younger, more diverse beer drinkers. That model will now grow to include Bell’s approximately 550 employees, 500,000-barrel brewery in Comstock, Mich., and beloved brands like Two Hearted, voted the best beer in America multiple times. – New Belgium Brewing and Lion Acquire Bells Brewery

This has certainly become the hot topic of the craft beer online world. With nearly every beer group on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that I’m engaged in and read and check out all having people talking about it, speculating about the merge, and what all it means for both New Belgium and Bell’s Brewery, as well as us the consumers. Thankfully as Larry Bell stated in his video, the workers look to be well taken care of and that the transition looks like it will be a good and smooth one for the employees (of both companies).

Even Yahoo News covered the story in an article:

New Belgium Brewing and Bell’s Brewery will become one entity led by New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer, according to New Belgium. Bell’s Brewery’s, which distributes to 43 states and was listed as the seventh largest U.S. craft brewing company earlier this year, has 550 employees who will become New Belgium employees once the acquisition is finalized in the coming months, according to New Belgium spokesperson Megan Olson.

No changes are currently planned for either brewery’s beverage options, operational footprints or Bell’s Brewery’s “deep presence in the Kalamazoo community,” Olson confirmed Thursday.

Yahoo News: Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery acquired by New Belgium

Larry Bell

Larry Bell announces his retirement via YouTube video

Larry Bell is one of the most respected brewers, owners, and activists in the brewing company. Announcing his retirement today and stating health issues, a flood of well wishers, congratulations, and attaboys flooded the internet from those in and out of the industry. His impact is far and well felt in the community of the craft beer industry, as well as by the consumers.

Bell’s Brewery employs 600~ employees and has a distribution footprint of 42 states in America as well as Puerto Rico. Bell’s Brewery annually produces 310,000 barrels of beer. As per the Bell’s Brewery wikipedia page:

Larry Bell incorporated The Kalamazoo Brewing Company, Inc., in 1983 as a homebrewing supply shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan.[8] In September 1985, the company began to sell its own beer, brewed in a 15-US-gallon (57 L) soup kettle and fermented in open fermenters covered with plastic wrap. The company produced 135 barrels in its first year. In 1993 the company opened an adjacent brewpub, the Eccentric Café.[9]

In 2003, Bell’s opened an additional brewing facility in nearby Comstock, Michigan.[9] The company legally changed its name in 2006 to Bell’s Brewery, Inc., reflecting the name by which it was popularly known.[10] A larger production facility in Comstock opened in 2012, increasing the company’s brewing capacity from 180,000 barrels to 500,000 barrels per year.[11]

In late 2012, the Bell family repurchased all stock held by outside investors, returning the company to full family ownership.[12]

Wikipedia: Bell’s Brewery

We here at The Beer Thrillers wish Larry Bell a happy retirement and hope his health issues get better and that he has a long and well preserved retirement. Would be fantastic to have a pint with him in Kalamazoo.

Mainstream News Sources

Check out the following mainstream news sources to read more about New Belgium acquiring Bell’s Brewery:

Social Media:

Bell’s Brewery:
New Belgium:

Brewery Expansions, Openings, Closings, News

For some of our other links on brewery expansions, openings, closings, and news, check out the following:

Thanks For Reading

As always, thanks for reading everyone. This was certainly a big news day in the craft beer world! And I’m starting to feel better. Thankfully tomorrow and Friday are my weekend, so I should be able to get back to work Saturday. Be sure to check out all of our social media pages. And as November continues, we here at The Beer Thrillers are continuing with our daily articles. So be sure to be checking back here at the blog daily to stay up to date!


-B. Kline

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