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Sapporo-Stone expansion nearly complete; sets sight on expanding US market

Two years after it was bought by Japanese beermaker Sapporo, Stone Brewing unveiled a phase one of its nearly completed expansion project. KPBS North County reporter Alexander Nguyen got a look at the project.

Two years after it was bought by Japanese beermaker Sapporo, Stone Brewing unveiled on Tuesday that phase one of its expansion project is nearing completion.

When Sapporo USA bought Stone Brewing Company in 2022, the plan was to expand the facility to brew both Sapporo and Stone beers.

Over the past two years, the company added more tanks and packaging lines to increase capacity.


"With this momentum, we have big plans,” said Zach Keeling, Sapporo-Stone Brewing's interim CEO.

He said the company is setting its sights on becoming the 10th-largest brewery in the nation. It is currently the 12th largest by volume.

“That's a lot of hard work in front of us," Keeling said. "But I couldn't be more excited about our prospects. I think the team has done such a remarkable job getting us to this point through the integration.”

He said the company is now fully integrated.

Sapporo-Stone has invested $60 million in expanding its facilities — $40 million in its Richmond, Virginia, location and $20 million in Escondido.


The $20 million expansion will double the Escondido brewery's capacity, meaning more beer can be brewed here. But for the city of Escondido, it means so much more than that.

"For us, it's jobs, employment opportunities, revenue for the city," Escondido Mayor Dane White said.

With the expansion, Sapporo-Stone added 125 jobs locally, which White said is helping the city close its budget deficit.

“Absolutely. It does help solve it," he said. "No. 1, employment, and No. 2, sales tax. Sales tax is the largest revenue source for the city. Having this big of this part of the economy right here in Escondido certainly helps.”

The expansion means all Sapporo beers sold in the U.S. will be brewed in this country.

Erik Fowler, executive director for the San Diego Brewers Guild, said it also means recognition for the San Diego craft beer scene.

Stone Brewing was among San Diego’s pioneering craft breweries.

“It means that we still have something here that people from outside of San Diego want to capture," he said. "And that partnership gives Stone Brewing Company ... more recognition and support to breed more community within San Diego.”

With the expansion nearly completed, Sapporo-Stone said the next phase is to grow both brands in the United States.

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