Larry Bell, founder of Bell’s Brewery announced at noon today a sale to Lion, an Australian subsidiary of Kirin, which is currently New Belgium’s parent company. Upon this this announcement, Bell will retire.
Bell framed the sell in his announcement as “joining forces with New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado (and Asheville, North Carolina). New Belgium Brewing sold to Lion almost two years ago this week in 2019. The sale includes Bell’s spin-off venture, Upper Hand Brewery in Escanaba, Michigan.
“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. Under the terms of the deal, I am selling my stake in Bell’s to Lion, who acquired Colorado-based New Belgium in 2019,” says Larry Bell.
We are committed to keeping Bell’s strong and stable for generations to come, providing world-class beers to our fans every day. Our partnership with @newbelgium New Belgium will allow us to do that.
— Bell’s Brewery (@BellsBrewery) November 10, 2021
This sale will strip Bell’s Brewery’s “craft brewer” status definition set by the Brewers Association, who are currently ranked 7th largest craft brewery in the United States.
Larry Bell started Bell’s in his basement in 1983 on Wheaton Street, which then turned into a homebrew shop on Burdick Street in Kalamazoo. The brewery’s Two Hearted Ale has long been considered the India pale ale in America, in close contention with Russian River’s Pliny the Elder.
Bell says the day to day operations of the brewery and its nearly 550 employees will remain unchanged. Those employees join New Belgium’s 700 employees, for a combined brewery workforce of more than 1,200.
Bell’s Brewery in on track to produce 500,000 barrels (15,500,000 gallons) of beer in 2021. Operations will remain in Kalamazoo County.
Financials of the sale have not been disclosed.
Developing story. Check back for more details as they become available.
Bell’s Brewery’s widely popular seasonal Oberon will have extra life as the weather cools down. The Michigan based brewery has been barrel-aging the wheat ale to create something much stronger than the summer sipper/ Meet Bell’s Uberon.
The brewery describes Uberon as their “classic wheat ale with a shot of bourbon dropped into it.” Something you can store away for a winter night when you’re missing the warmer days of Oberon and summer.
Bell’s Uberon is a whopping 11.3% alcohol by volume, which is nearly double Oberon’s 5.8% ABV. Shipping in 12-ounce bottles to distributors by the end of August.
Debut: Late August 2021
Bell’s Oktoberfest finally returned to bottles after a 5-year hiatus in 2016. Thank the brewery’s (then) much-needed brewhouse expansion for that malty glass of festbier fans had been missing. Now in 2021 it seems Oktoberfest is staying a seasonal.
In the past, this edition of the fall lager is one of the first to sell out. While you are splashing around in the pool in the heat, this beer has been lagering for at least six weeks, just waiting for fall.
With herbal hop aromas, this balanced amber lager focuses on lightly toasted malt that lends body without too much sweetness. Perfect for a week-long wedding celebration in Germany or the start of the Michigan autumn.
Bell’s Oktoberfest is now available in 12-ounce bottles, in both 6 & 12 packs and draft.
Availability: 12oz Bottles, Draft. Seasonal.
Latest Return: August 2021
Image: Beer Street Journal
Bell’s Double Two Hearted Ale makes another return to shelves in July 2021.
For years, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale overtook Russian River Pliny the Elder as #1 India Pale Ale in America, according to Zymurgy Magazine, published by the American Homebrewer’s Association. Elder had the spot for seven years straight. Two Hearted Ale has both “classic” and “epic” statuses in our book.
In the past, you might have been lucky to come across Bell’s Double Two Hearted Ale on draft. It’s a hoppier and definitely boozier edition of its famous predecessor, to the tune of 11% alcohol by volume. If you’re a fan of Two Hearted Ale, this bigger edition really delivers.
Expect 12-ounce bottles and draft of Double Two Hearted Ale to starting hitting shelves within the week.
Style: Imperial IPA
Availability: 12oz Bottles (New), Draft.
Debut (Bottles): July 2019
Latest Return: July 2021
PIC: Beer Street Journal
Bell’s Oberon is easily one of the most popular seasonal beers in America. (Unless you live in a handful of areas where it’s year-round). Every so often, and in very limited quantities, variants of Oberon have surfaced, such as Pineapple Jalapeno, Guava Raspberry, and Cucumber Basil. This month, another variant – Mango Oberon, has been selected for wider distribution.
Those living close to Bell’s General Store in downtown Kalamazoo have might have seen this beer in the past. According to Larry Bell, brewery president, and founder, says brewery fans have been asking for Oberon special releases to see more distribution.
12-ounce bottles of Bell’s Mango Oberon start shipping in limited quantities across the United States the week after July 4th.
Bell’s Brewery’s Two Hearted Ale is known epically as one of the best (if not the best) India pale ale in America. Double Two Hearted Ale, which is is basically Two Hearted turned into the hoppy Incredible Hulk, was bottled last year and brewery fans couldn’t’ get enough. Then it was revealed that the “Hearted Ale” series had a lesser-known, lovable lighter side – Light Hearted Ale.
The 110 calorie, 8.7 carb, 3.7% alcohol by volume “light” ale has been a Bell’s General Store exclusive release, showing up on social media as early as last summer.
Gearing up for a wide-scale release, Bell’s has overhauled Light Hearted’s artwork. This lighter approach to one of America’s most popular India pale ales utilizes two hops – Centennial and Galaxy.
A light IPA Success
As 2020 gets underway, this beer joins the ranks of a growing segment of lighter, lower calorie, lower alcohol by volume creations by craft brewers. The category is growing every month, but much like any India pale ale, the light IPAs are not created equal. Without naming names, some of the releases are either too thin, low flavor, or even worse – tastes like hoppy water. You might be saving the calories but you’ve also thrown flavor out the window. Bell’s solved the calorie over flavor equation, and they did it beautifully.
Light Hearted Ale is born of the same creative expertise that pushed Two Hearted Ale to elite status in American brewing. Centennial and Galaxy hops walk hand in hand through each sip, bolstered by an actual malt backbone (a term brewers hate) that his been missing in a string lactose and adjunct heavy IPAs hitting shelves coast to coast. Those looking to make a more health-conscious beer choice, look no further.
Bell’s Light Hearted Ale will be available year-round in 12-ounce cans and draft starting in late-January
Image: Beer Street Journal
Bell’s Brewery is honoring veterans and active service military with a special beer release for Veteran’s Day. Bell’s Goin’ Dark debuts at the brewery’s Eccentric Cafe on November 11th.
Goin’ Dark is a coffee milk stout brewed with bourbon barrel-aged coffee beans. This beer was visualized, conceived, brewed and packaged by a team of 20 Bell’s employees that served in the military or currently enlisted or have families actively serving.
“It’s an honor to recognize the men and women in our military as well as their families and extend that celebration to those who make that sacrifice.” – Larry Bell, Founder & President
Additionally, Bell’s is working with Section Collection, a nonprofit that provides support for veterans in need.
Bell’s Goin’ Dark will be available exclusively at the Eccentric Cafe on November 11th, in 12-ounce bottles and draft.
Style: Milk Stout (w/ Coffee.)
Availability: 12oz Bottles, Draft. Brewery Release.