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Kirin Buys Bell’s, Folds It Under New Belgium

Through its Lion subsidiary—the same that bought New Belgium in 2019—Kirin has purchased the Michigan-based craft icon. Founder Larry Bell says, “this was the right time.”

Brewing Industry Guide Staff Nov 11, 2021 - 6 min read

Kirin Buys Bell’s, Folds It Under New Belgium Primary Image

Bell’s founder Larry Bell in the brewery’s early days. Photo: Courtesy Bell’s Brewery.

Seeking to retire from the business while ensuring that the Bell’s brand and beers such as Two Hearted Ale can thrive for years to come, Larry Bell says he is selling the brewery he founded to Australia-based Lion, a subsidiary of Japanese drinks giant Kirin.

Bell founded Bell’s Brewery in 1985 out of his homebrew shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The sale brings Bell’s under the same ownership as Colorado’s New Belgium, which Kirin acquired via Lion in 2019. The announcement from Bell’s says that its executive vice president, Carrie Yunker, will report to New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer, “a Michigan native and longtime Bell’s drinker.” Meanwhile, John Mallett, Bell’s VP of operations, “will join the leadership team to focus on integrating” Bell’s and New Belgium.

“This decision ultimately came down to two determining factors,” Bell says in the announcement. “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, this was the right time. I’ve been doing this for more than 36 years and recently battled some serious health issues. 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.”

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