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Stone plans $10 million brewery in Escondido

June 22, 2004

Stone Brewing Co. announced plans yesterday to build a $10 million brewery in Escondido's new business park.

The 50,000-square-foot facility, scheduled to open late next year in the Escondido Research and Technology Center, will make it possible for the brewery to produce six times as much beer as it does now, said Stone co-founder and CEO Greg Koch.

Known for its Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone is the largest brewery in San Diego with an output of 34,000 barrels a year. With its new facility, the company will have the capacity for more than 200,000 barrels a year.

But Koch, who announced the company's plans at a news conference with Escondido city leaders, said he is in no rush to meet that goal.

"Growing to 200,000 is not important," he said. "Continuing to brew beer that meets our standards is what dictates the growth."

Koch also wants the brewery to be more accessible to beer lovers. The current San Marcos location is only open to the public for a few hours on the weekends, and visitors must dodge forklifts on their tours.

The new brewery will offer tours and tastings six days a week and may also serve food.

"We are expecting to become a leading tourist destination in North County," Koch said.

Stone opened in 1996, brewing 400 barrels its first year in a 7,100-square-foot space in San Marcos. Today the brewery is about four times larger and has 57 employees. Its annual revenue is between $8 million and $10 million.

Koch said revenue has increased by an average of 50 percent a year to make Stone the largest independent specialty beer wholesaler in Southern California.

However, he said, fans of the beer needn't worry about the brewery becoming the Anheuser-Busch of San Diego.

"They do 100 million barrels a year," he said. "Even Sierra Nevada (a Chico-based micro brewery) does 500,000 to 600,000 a year."