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CASTLE MALTING NEWS in partnership with www.e-malt.com Dutch
22 May, 2024



Brewing news USA, CA: Sapporo-Stone Brewing unveils phase one of its $60 mln expansion

Two years following the announcement of its acquisition by Sapporo U.S.A., San Diego-based Sapporo-Stone Brewing, unveils the near completion of phase one of its expansion project at its Escondido brewery, ABC27 reported on May 21.

The $20 million investment in the Escondido, CA facility is one of two significant investments for growth with $40 million invested in the company's Richmond, VA operation. These investments will result in the doubling of the company's capacity to about 700,000 barrels a year across its bi-coastal breweries. The brewing of Sapporo beers in Escondido, CA and Richmond, VA is now underway.

Stone Brewing, Southern California's largest craft brewery was acquired by Sapporo U.S.A. in 2022. The goal was to transition from an importer to a U.S. brewer, ultimately brewing, selling, and marketing all of Sapporo's beers for the U.S. market locally. Richmond's expansion will be unveiled this fall. By late summer, all production of Sapporo beers will have moved from Canada and Asia to the U.S.

Sapporo-Stone Brewing is now a combined team of nearly 850 employees, about 600 of whom are based in San Diego County. In support of its expansion project, the company added 125 jobs locally and another 75 outside of San Diego County. More than 150 team members have been promoted or moved into new or expanded roles since the acquisition.

"Operationally, this acquisition looks a lot like a merger," stated Zach Keeling, Sapporo-Stone Brewing Interim CEO. "Our two companies are now fully integrated – Innovating, brewing, selling, marketing, and operating as a single, combined business. The Sapporo and Stone Brewing brands will maintain their individual identities, but we are Sapporo-Stone in name, operations, and culture."

The Escondido expansion project includes additional tanks and packaging lines to increase capacity and efficiency. On the West Coast Sapporo-Stone now operates out of its two Escondido brewing and packaging buildings and a distribution warehouse with offices also in Escondido. It occupies additional warehouse space in San Marcos, CA and Downey, CA. The company operates two Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and five Stone Brewing Tap Rooms. On the East Coast, Sapporo-Stone operates another brewery, an off-site warehouse, and a Stone Brewing Tap Room all in Richmond, VA.

Now the nation's 12th largest brewery by volume* Sapporo-Stone Brewing aims for a top 10 ranking. Finding growth in the beer market is challenging as craft consolidates and alcohol drinkers explore countless new innovations, but Sapporo-Stone's craft-meets-import portfolio sets the company apart. In both the Import and Craft categories, Sapporo and Stone are gaining share over the last year. Sapporo is the number one selling Asian beer brand in the U.S., with sales up +13.1%, nearly double the growth of the Import category, +6.7%.** Most of this growth is attributed to its flagship Sapporo Premium. Stone's best sellers include the Stone Delicious IPA family of beers, Stone IPA and Stone Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager. These Stone core brands are also growing, up 13.2%***

At its Escondido Open House event on May 21, 2024, Hiro Kitaoka, Sapporo-Stone Brewing Chairman stated, "Stone Brewing is among the world's most recognizable and celebrated craft breweries. We admire the team's innovative spirit, passion, and world-class brewing expertise. We are proud to continue the legacy of Stone and honored to have this full team's commitment to the Sapporo brand. We are stronger together, and proud to be a growing San Diego business."

Stone Brewing was among San Diego's pioneering craft brewers and is credited for bringing national and international attention to San Diego as a thriving craft beer city. In its early years, the team fostered collaboration through the formation of Stone Distributing Company to distribute small craft brands. It curated countless invitational beer festivals, served guest beers on tap, and played a founding role in the San Diego Brewers Guild. Stone Brewing continues to host local craft beer events and festivals and to offer creative craft innovations like its One Batch Dispatch beers alongside its year-round beers available nationwide and in 50+ countries. Locally-brewed Sapporo beers can be enjoyed and purchased at all Stone Brewing locations.





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