San Diego craft brewer eyes Cincinnati for 'East Coast' brewery project

Stone Brewing Co. would hire up to 374 in 5 years

CINCINNATI -  Greater Cincinnati is in the running for a $31 million brewery project that would employ 374 people within five years and annually produce more than 120,000 barrels of beer and $100 million in revenue.

Stone Brewing Co., an Escondido, Calif. –based company that bills itself as the nation’s 10th largest craft brewer, is looking for a site that will supply customers east of the Mississippi River.

“Our operations facility will feature a full-production brewery, packaging, distribution and administrative support operations,” said a company document inviting real estate proposals. “Our Stone World Bistro & Gardens, retail and potential other operations will follow.”

The Bistro & Gardens facility would be a tourist attraction patterned after the company’s original brewery near San Diego. It draws 600,000 visitors a year, including 60,000 who come for the brewery tour and others drawn to its 23,500-square-foot restaurant.

Economic development officials in North Carolina are trying to bring the project to the Wilmington area, according to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal .

Company founder Greg Koch is an Ohio native who moved to Southern California because he “wanted to be a rock star,” according to this profile in San Diego Reader .

A company spokeswoman said more than 200 proposals were submitted on potential sites. She declined to reveal how many cities, apart from Cincinnati, are still in the running.

 “We’re a few months into it and have been whittling the search down,” said Sabrina LoPiccolo, public relations specialist for the company. “I don’t have a specific date on which we’ll make a decision.”

The company’s request for proposal provides voluminous details on plans for the new facility, including:

  • Initial capital spending will reach $20 million, rising to $31 million within five years of construction.
  • Company payroll would climb to $14.5 million within five years, which translates to an average salary for employees of $38,708.
  • Production will start at 120,000 barrels and climb to nearly 500,000 barrels within five years.
  • Revenue from the facility is projected to reach $100 million within five years and “grow over time into hundreds of millions annually.”
  • The brewery would try to source all materials locally and launch “student internships and potential lab/research initiatives” with universities in whatever town wins the site search.

“Our selection of a location will be based upon a number of factors,” said the RFP, including “advantageous operational expenses (e.g., labor, utilities, logistics, etc.), development challenges, availability/ timing, unique attributes (e.g., redeveloped or historic properties, sustainable sites), creativity as well as a significant weighting on incentive/development packages available.”

Read the full RFP here:



Figures from the Beer Institute show Ohio has 1,780 brewing jobs and the beer industry generates an annual economic impact of $4 billion for the state. Cincinnati's craft brewing scene has enjoyed robust growth in recent years, several new restaurant and brewery concepts under development.

For a detailed look at the local brewing scene, check out WCPO's Beer section .


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