It resonates when the nation’s seventh largest brewery decides to sell to an international beverage company and to learn that its founder Larry Bell will stepping aside.
Here’s what we know so far…
Bell’s Brewery, one of America’s most successful craft beer producers will be selling its entire operation to the same Kirin-owned Australian beer giant that purchased New Belgium Brewing in 2019.
Founder and President of Michigan-headquartered heritage brewery Larry Bell, who has already successfully weathered two bouts with cancer, will retire and New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer, a Michigan native will oversee the transition and head up the combined operation in the US.
“I had a couple health issues the last few years and as you start getting into your 60s you just have to start thinking about these sorts of things and how you’re going to handle it,” Bell, 63 told Mlive. “It’s been on my mind a couple years and I think the key thing here has been we found somebody to join forces with that we really respect and like and feel confident in.”
“I think this is a mature adult decision on my part, to just recognize that things need to be taken care of, the employees need to be taken care of in the business. I’m lucky that I found somebody that is going to be able to carry on that legacy and take care of my employees in Comstock, Kalamazoo and Escanaba.”
Fans of Bell’s which is distributed in 43 states and employs around 550 people, mostly in Michigan, should expect no changes to products as the sale goes forward.
“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. “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.”
“I think the future is rosy,” Bell added, pointing to what he called a meteoric rise in beer sales experienced by New Belgium over the last two years….
“Lion is not buying this company to sell less beer. They intend to grow this and I think Bell’s is well poised with our production facilities and with our people to enjoy that growth.”
Bell’s Executive Vice President Carrie Yunker, who maintains an 18-year tenure with Bell’s, will continue to lead day-to-day operations for the brand, reporting to Fechheimer and joining the combined company’s leadership team. VP of Operations John Mallett, who has been with Bell’s for over 20 years, will join the leadership team to focus on integrating the two brewing organizations.
As usual with these kinds of things the terms of the deal were not disclosed but we’ve got to think the numbers could be huge.
(updated 1:31pm 11/10/21)