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Lagunitas Primed For Gigantic Expansion With New Craft Beer Brewery Outside LA

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The Southern California beer wars are heating up.

Tap handles at Lagunitas Brewing Company
Tap handles at Lagunitas Brewing Company
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

One of America’s most prominent craft beer breweries is doubling down on Los Angeles, with plans to open a large-scale production facility well east of Downtown. Lagunitas Brewing Company, which is based north of San Francisco in Petaluma but also has a brewery in Chicago, is among the most recognizable names on bottle shop shelves, having been in the business for nearly 25 years crafting mostly West Coast-style IPAs and pale ales.

On Twitter last night, owner Tony Magee (@LagunitasT) began dropping hints as to the growing future of the brand, eventually revealing that the Southern California location would be held in Azusa, California, a small foothills suburb in the San Gabriel Valley. The city itself currently hosts a population of only around 50,000 people, but is within easy freeway distance of several major metropolitan areas and comes complete with lots of light industrial zoning.

Magee says that the brewery is already under construction, but won’t be ready until early 2017. To start, their brew system will offer a capacity of 420,000 barrels, which could eventually grow to one million barrels (that’s 31 million gallons of beer, for anyone keeping track). What’s more, Magee says that the brand new facility is completely free of city and state funding, and sits within "spittin’ distance" of the current large-scale Irwindale Miller Brewery.

Magee goes on to say that he’s spent many years coming in and out of Los Angeles as he continued to build the Lagunitas brand, and has a soft spot for the area. So why Azusa specifically? Magee isn’t telling (at least on Twitter) but it could certainly have something to do with that incoming $15 minimum wage for the city of Los Angeles — after all, it wouldn’t be the first time a big brewery made other regional plans to move into more business-friendly cities. Others, like Firestone Walker, are doubling down in LA proper.