‘Fat Tire’ brewer New Belgium sells company to international beverage giant

Six-pack of Fat Tire craft beer

Six-pack of Fat Tire craft beer. (Courtesy: New Belgium Brewing)

FORT COLLINS, Colorado (KXAN) — New Belgium Brewing, one of the largest craft brewers in America and the maker of the popular Fat Tire beer, is selling its entire brewery to an international company.

Lion Little World Beverages of Australia, which itself is owned by Kirin Holdings in Japan, purchased New Belgium in an all-cash deal. It’s expected to close by the end of the year, according to the companies’ press release. They did not give any dollar amount.

New Belgium is based in Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s the fourth largest craft brewer in the United States and has been locally-owned for 30 years. New Belgium’s co-founder, Kim Jordan, said in a public letter that she understands some people are upset but that this is really a good thing for the brewery’s employees.

“We will no longer be employee owned and it would be easy to see that as a drawback,” Jordan said. “But here’s another way to look at it. More than 300 employees are receiving over $100,000 of retirement money with some receiving significantly greater amounts.”

Lion said it was excited to acquire New Belgium and doesn’t think beer drinkers will see a big difference.

“We’re excited to welcome New Belgium Brewing into the Lion fold and take a significant step forward in the largest craft beer market in the world,” said Lion CEO Stuart Irvine said. “We’re confident that our shared values and commitment to purpose and culture will provide the foundation for a great partnership in the U.S.”

As more beer drinkers opt for craft beers, larger beer makers are trying to capitalize. For many craft brewers, the money gets to be so good it’s tough not to sell. For example, Anheuser-Busch InBev has purchased nearly two dozen craft brands, including Goose Island, Karbach, Kona, Redhook, Widmer, and Wicked Weed.

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