Belgian firm Duvel Moortgat buying Missouri's Boulevard Brewing

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- One of America's largest craft beer makers, Kansas City-based Boulevard Brewing, is being sold to Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat.

Boulevard founder John McDonald says in a letter posted Thursday on the company's website that the sale is designed to "take Boulevard to the next level while retaining its essence, its people, its personality - all the characteristics that make our beer and our brewery so important to Kansas City and the Midwest."

Since Boulevard stated in 1989 with used equipment, it has grown rapidly. The Kansas City Star reports that it produces 185,000 barrels of beer and sells it in 25 states coast-to-coast, primarily in the Midwest. It also has a small presence in Scandinavia.

The 60-year-old McDonald, who said he isn't "getting any younger," reached out to Duvel three months ago and struck a deal that's expected to close by the end of the year. The financial details were not disclosed. Duvel brewed 700,000 barrels of beer last year and employs 900 people. Boulevard has 125 employees.

McDonald said the sale to Duvel should allow it to accelerate a $20 million expansion of its fermentation operation near Kansas City's downtown. Although Boulevard is best known for its pale ale and unfiltered wheat, it also offers a wide selection of year-round and seasonal offerings.

"I think this is a good thing for the brewery," he said. "We could do it on our own, but we can do it faster with them."

Duvel, which already sells about 60,000 barrels of its "strong golden ale" in this country, hopes to expand its U.S. presence further. It also recently bought a small brewery, Brewery Ommegang, based in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"Our path for growth became abundantly clear as I got to know John and Boulevard," Michel Moortgat, CEO of Duvel, said in a statement.

"Our companies share the same values. We have great mutual respect for each other's achievements and maintain a deeply held belief in exceptional quality as the platform for long-term success."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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