New parent company acquires Escanaba-based brewery

Bell’s Brewery Executive Vice President says Michigan beer lovers can expect little to no change to popular brews and operations
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 8:07 PM EST
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COMSTOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - The founder of Bell’s Brewery announced Wednesday that the Lower Michigan company has been sold to Australian brewing company, Lion. Along with Bell’s, Lion will acquire its U.P. subsidiary Upper Hand Brewery in Escanaba.

Bell’s Executive Vice President Carrie Yunker, however, said that Michigan beer lovers can expect little to no change in brewery operations in Escanaba.

“There will be no real changes to Upper Hand’s operations at all,” Yunker said. “Bell’s is the parent company of Upper Hand and really what Upper Hand received today was a little bit larger parent company, more resources, more brewing expertise at their fingertips.”

According to Yunker, Upper Hand will continue to remain focused on their Michigan fanbase and will continue working “toward that number one craft beer spot in the U.P. as well.”

Bell’s Brewery of Lower Michigan is best known for its beers Oberon Ale and Two Hearted Ale, the latter of which was voted Best American Beer on four consecutive occasions by the American Homebrewer’s Association.

The decision to sell, according to Bell’s press release, was in part because of founder Larry Bell’s own retirement from the company, as well as aligning values with Lion’s other U.S. subsidiary New Belgium. The result of Lion’s acquisition of Bell’s is a merger between Bell’s and New Belgium.

“This decision ultimately came down to two determining factors,” Bell said. “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.”

In addition to telling TV6 that U.P. residents can expect Upper Hand to operate just as it does now, Yunker also said Michiganders can rest assured that Bell’s fan favorites like Oberon and two Hearted Ale will remain unchanged.

“We have found magic in brands like Two-Hearted and Oberon Day that is a National Michigan Holiday. Those things will remain the same and our new friends at New Belgium are really excited to add brands like that to their really extensive, top quality portfolio,” Yunker said.

Yunker said Bell’s and Upper Hand will remain committed to their communities.

Find Larry Bell’s announcement of his retirement and the merger between Bell’s and New Belgium on the Upper Hand Facebook page here.

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