Bell’s is Back

Bell’s beers back in Chicago after franchise dispute

Bell’s beers will once again be distributed in Chicago nearly two years after the company pulled its brands out of the market following a dispute with a distributor.

Bell’s Brewery on Thursday announced new distribution agreements with Central Beverage Co., Schamberger Brothers and Skokie Valley Beverage Co. that will mark the return of Bell’s brands in Chicago beginning Friday.

Bell’s left the Chicago market in late 2006 after a fight with its distributor National Wine and Spirits Inc., which had sold the rights to distribute the Bell’s brands to another distributor, Chicago Beverage Systems. Bell did not want to use Chicago Beverage and due to Illinois franchise laws would have had to pay to move to a distributor of choice. Instead of paying, Bell’s owner and co-founder Larry Bell decided to pull his brands out of the state even though the market accounted for more than 10 percent of his sales.