One of San Diego’s largest craft brewers said Thursday that the company plans to move into a larger building and hire two dozen more employees.

AleSmith Brewing Co. signed an 11-year, $9.7 million lease for a nearly 106,000-square-foot building on Empire Street in the Miramar area. The firm plans to renovate the structure and move in January.

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About 25 positions are expected to be filled in production, sales and management, according to the brewer.

Craft brewing has become an important and popular niche segment of San Diego’s economy. The 85 breweries and brew pubs in the county had total sales of more than $781 million last year, according to Vince Vasquez, senior police analyst of the National University System Institute for Policy Research.

He said the number of brewery jobs increased 40 percent last year to nearly 2,300, mainly at the biggest beer-makers.

“Certainly, AleSmith is one of the largest brewers in San Diego County,” Vasquez said.

AleSmith, founded in 1995, is known for producing British and Belgian-style beers that are strong on alcohol content and hops.

AleSmith is now housed in a 20,000-square-foot building on Cabot Drive, also in Miramar.

“After many years of hard work, I am very excited to guide AleSmith into the future with a facility that will allow our beer to reach more people and maintain our status as one of the world’s great breweries,” said Peter Zien, the brewery’s owner. “AleSmith is an artisan brewery where quality, respect for the brewers’ art and customer service are paramount. We look forward to bringing the AleSmith passion, soul and commitment to excellence to our new location.”

Improvements planned for the new AleSmith building include an improved brew house, cellar and bottling line from Krone’s, a leading German packaging and bottling manufacturer. The company expects to increase capacity from the 15,000 barrels projected this year to 25,000 barrels in 2015.

Zien said he wants capacity to get up to 150,000 barrels in a few years.

– City News Service

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