Lion snaps up US brewery New Belgium

Australian company Lion Little World Beverages is buying US brewer New Belgium Brewing Co.

The Colorado brewery is being sold after nearly 30 years in business, The Coloradoan newspaper reports.

Little World Beverages is part of Lion, an Australian beverage and food company that is a subsidiary of Japanese beverage giant Kirin.

New Belgium and Lion would not disclose the sale price or other terms of the deal.

New Belgium is the fourth-largest craft brewer in the United States with more than 300 employees.

The sale of 100 per cent of New Belgium is expected to be completed by the end of the year pending approvals by regulators and the company's employee stock ownership plan.

New Belgium will no longer be employee-owned following the sale, officials said.

Employees will receive $100,000 of retirement money, "with some receiving significantly greater amounts," co-founder Kim Jordan said in an open letter.

New Belgium was founded by Jordan and her then-husband Jeff Lebesch in their Fort Collins basement.

New Belgium became partially employee-owned in 2000, with Jordan and her family holding a controlling interest in the company.

It changed to full employee ownership in 2012.

Over time its employee stock ownership plan has grown and will have paid a total of $US190 million ($A278.2 million) to current and former employees over 19 years, including the prospective sale.

"My focus will now switch to both the Little World team and the New Belgium team," Jordan said.

"Thinking about this platform and how do we bring in other US craft breweries that are aligned with the values that are important to us."