One of Northern California's largest and most important craft breweries is setting down major roots in Los Angeles. Lagunitas Brewing Company, based in Petaluma, Calif., and known for its hoppy pilsner, amber ale and IPAs, announced via its owner's Twitter account this week that its third production brewery is currently being built in Azusa, in the shadow of the Miller brewery in Irwindale.
Not only that, but the size and capacity of the new Lagunitas brewery will rival some of the largest craft breweries in the country. According to owner Tony Magee, the Azusa facility is 178,000 square feet of new construction, and the brewery will open with an initial capacity of around 420,000 barrels per year, making it seven times larger than Golden Road Brewing, which is currently the largest production brewery in L.A. County. (If the Azusa brewery were its own company, its size would make it the seventh largest brewery in the country by volume.)
The built-out capacity for the space is 1 million barrels, which would make the one-time beer desert of L.A. home to a craft brewery the same size as Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico.
“This brewery will serve L.A. and the whole Southland, of course, but it is a nice place from which to get fresher beer to the whole Southwest and even the Gulf Coast,” Magee told the L.A. Weekly. Someday, he says, they might begin distribution to Mexico as well.
So….what would YOU do with this 178 Magee is no stranger to Los Angeles, either. He lived here for 12 years, working for printing companies in the City of Industry, Van Nuys, Chatsworth and Cerritos before moving north and starting Lagunitas in 1993. He remembers the city's beer scene, or lack thereof, in the early '90s, when he and his friends would drink at the pier in Hermosa or at the old Blue Moon Saloon in Redondo, and the closest thing to craft beer you could get was a dusty bottle of Anchor Steam or Sam Adams.
Today, there are more than 30 breweries in L.A. County and several more from outside L.A. — like Stone, which opened a company store in Pasadena in 2012, and Firestone Walker, which is currently building a brewpub in Venice — that are expanding into the area.
“L.A. is on fire now and the scene is as vibrant and exciting as any,” Magee says, “maybe even more so than most.”
Lagunitas' Azusa brewery will be similar in scale and operation to their Chicago brewery, which opened as a taproom, restaurant, music venue and community hub last April. The addition of the L.A. brewery would make Lagunitas larger than Stone Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewery, Dogfish Head and Bell's Brewing combined.
All this is still at least a few years away, though. Magee says the facility (which doesn't yet have an address as it's in a new commercial development site) won't be up and brewing until early 2017.