Last night, Lagunitas Brewing Company founder and owner Tony Magee announced (via Twitter) that the Petaluma, Calif. brewer would double its production by opening a new brewery in Chicago.

Lagunitas has signed a five-year lease on a former steel factory behind a film studio and sound stage. The brewery is a $15-18 million, 15,000 sq. ft. facility that will be built out as an “exact copy” of the Petaluma location including the 250-barrel brew house. With eventual capacity of 600,000 barrels of beer produced annually in Chicago and eventual capacity of 800k barrels in Petaluma, Lagunitas is poised to grow into one of the top five craft brewers in the United States by decade’s end.

Lagunitas is currently one of the nation's fastest-growing breweries, with 2010 sales increasing 38% over the previous year. This year the company has said that sales are up 55% over 2011.

In a sequence of tweets last night, Tony summed it all up;

“Back in Feb, I thought about all the truck loads of brew leaving eastward. Thought about all the freight. Added it up. It was enough to...cover the financing for a whole new brewery. A whole new brewery. A WHOLE ‘nother brewery. So I jumped a plane n flew back to Chicago...found a perfect space on a movie soundstage complex so I rented it. Called ROLEC and they’ll have a 250bbl brewhouse ready next July...1st mash-in will b Q4 2013. Freakin cool, this. Lots and lotsa work ahead. Google it- 18th&Rockwell, Chicago.Fresher beer w/ less diesel in it. We’re gonna make a little bit o’ NorCal right there in the City of Chicago. You 6,380 follower folk are the first to hear it! Cheers all!"