Stone Brewing To Build Virginia Facility

Stone Brewing Co., one of the nation's top 10 craft breweries, is tapping Virginia for its East Coast operations, according to an official briefed on the deal.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Stone Brewing Co., one of the nation's top 10 craft breweries, is tapping Virginia for its East Coast operations, according to an official briefed on the deal.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to announce on Thursday afternoon that the Escondido, California-based brewery plans to build a facility in Richmond, according to the official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to talk to the press ahead of that announcement.

The facility southeast of downtown Richmond near the James River will include a bistro, gardens and a company store similar to its California facility and its recently announced brewery in Berlin. Richmond beat out Norfolk and Columbus, Ohio for Stone's East Coast operations.

In its request for proposals, Stone said it expects to invest $60 million in the project over five years and employ nearly 375 people when at full production capacity of nearly 500,000 barrels annually. The company is slated to receive at least $5 million in public funding for the project, but the full breakdown of the state and city incentives were unclear.

The brewery and the governor's office declined to comment on the deal.

With a wide variety of beers including Levitation Ale, Arrogant Bastard Ale and its "Enjoy By" IPA series, Stone produced 213,000 barrels of beer last year and employs nearly 900 people. The brewery founded in 1996 distributes in 40 states and seven countries and exceeded $135 million in revenue in 2013. More than 600,000 people visited its main California location in 2012.

Stone will join a growing list of more than 80 craft breweries in Virginia. Fellow California brewery Green Flash Brewing Co. plans to break ground in Virginia Beach next week on a facility that is expected to be able to produce 100,000 barrels annually.

The move comes as the demand for craft beer continues to grow both domestically and abroad.

Sales of craft beer rose about 17 percent last year, making up about 14 percent of the retail market share in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association.

There are more than 2,700 breweries in the U.S. and an additional 1,700 breweries in planning. And 75 percent of legal-drinking-age Americans living within 10 miles of a local craft brewery, according to the trade group.

Additionally, U.S. craft beer exports grew six-fold during the past five years, jumping from about 46,000 barrels in 2009 to more than 282,500 barrels in 2013, worth an estimated $73 million.

In July, Stone announced plans to spend about $25 million to renovate a historic gas works building in Berlin for a brewery, packaging and distribution center, restaurant and garden. The facility, set to open late next year or early 2016, will make beer for its bistro and distribution throughout Germany and Europe.

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