New Belgium Brewing Co., based in Fort Collins, has agreed to be acquired by an Australian firm. Chad Collins / BizWest

New Belgium Brewing to sell to Australian beer conglomerate

FORT COLLINS — New Belgium Brewing Co., a legacy craft-brewing operation based in Fort Collins, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Australian beermaker Lion Little World Beverages Ltd.

Lion Little is a subsidiary of Kirin Holdings Co. Ltd., a Japanese firm that owns the Kirin beer brands.

The New Belgium acquisition, announced in a press release Tuesday afternoon, is expected to close by the end of 2019. Terms of the all-cash deal were not disclosed.

“We’re excited to welcome New Belgium Brewing into our global family of craft beverage brands. Since meeting the New Belgium team, we’ve been incredibly impressed not just with their commitment to world-class beer and the way they bring their brands to life, but their purpose-led business model and connection to the community – all values we share at Lion,” Lion Little managing director Matt Tapper said in a prepared statement. 

New Belgium has been entirely employee-owned since 2012. That will no longer be the case.

“We will no longer be employee owned and it would be easy to see that as a drawback,” New Belgium co-founder Kim Jordan wrote in a letter posted to the brewery’s website. “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.”

The company, which produces popular beer varieties including beers including Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale, 1554 Black Lager and Voodoo Ranger IPA, has breweries in Fort Collins and Asheville, North Carolina.

New Belgium is the fourth largest craft brewing operation in the country. Overall craft beer sales growth has slowed in recent years and New Belgium laid off 28 employees — mostly in Fort Collins — in 2018.

The New Belgium acquisition is the second major piece of craft beer news to come out of the Northern Colorado and Boulder Valley regions in as many months. In October, Boulder Beer Co. announced it would discontinue distribution of its beers to grocery stores and lay off more than 40 percent of its staff as part of a larger business downsizing.

FORT COLLINS — New Belgium Brewing Co., a legacy craft-brewing operation based in Fort Collins, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Australian beermaker Lion Little World Beverages Ltd.

Lion Little is a subsidiary of Kirin Holdings Co. Ltd., a Japanese firm that owns the Kirin beer brands.

The New Belgium acquisition, announced in a press release Tuesday afternoon, is expected to close by the end of 2019. Terms of the all-cash deal were not disclosed.

“We’re excited to welcome New Belgium Brewing into our global family of craft beverage brands. Since meeting the New Belgium team, we’ve been incredibly impressed not just with their commitment to world-class beer and the way they bring their brands to life, but their purpose-led business model and connection to the community – all values we share at Lion,” Lion Little managing director Matt Tapper said in a prepared statement. 

New Belgium has been entirely employee-owned since 2012. That will no longer be the case.

“We will no longer be employee owned and it would be easy to see that as a drawback,” New Belgium co-founder Kim Jordan wrote in a letter posted to the brewery’s website. “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.”

The company, which produces popular beer varieties including beers including Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale, 1554 Black Lager and Voodoo Ranger IPA, has breweries in Fort Collins and Asheville, North Carolina.

New Belgium is the fourth largest…