FILE: A sign is displayed on the front door of the Anchor Brewing Co. on August 3, 2017 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
[This brings up a host of deep memories. Visiting with Fritz Maytag and seeing the revitalization of Anchor Steam was one of the most inspirational moments of the Great Beer Trek. SB SM]
San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company says it’s ceasing operations
Eric Ting, SFGATE, July 12, 2023
In a press release, Anchor Brewing spokesperson Sam Singer said that economic pressures made business “no longer sustainable,” and that employees were given their 60-day notice Wednesday. In June, Anchor Brewing limited distribution to California and axed one of its most popular beers.“The inflationary impact of product costs in San Francisco is one factor,” Singer told SFGATE at the time. “Couple that with a highly competitive craft beer market and a historically costly steam brewing technique. [They’ve] probably been mulling over this decision for a year. It’s not something they take lightly.”
On Wednesday, Singer reiterated the economic conditions at play.“This was an extremely difficult decision that Anchor reached only after many months of careful evaluation,” he said in a statement. “We recognize the importance and historic significance of Anchor to San Francisco and to the craft brewing industry, but the impacts of the pandemic, inflation, especially in San Francisco, and a highly competitive market left the company with no option but to make this sad decision to cease operations.” Anchor was founded in 1896 and advertises itself as America’s first craft brewery. It was sold to Sapporo in 2017.The Wednesday press release stated that the company plans to “provide transition support and separation packages” to outgoing employees, and that the Anchor Public Taps taproom on De Haro Street will remain open temporarily to sell remaining inventory. Brewing has ceased, but the brewery says it will continue to package and distribute beer on hand through the end of July.
Anchor Brewing also said Wednesday that attempts over the past year to find a buyer were unsuccessful, but one could emerge during the liquidation process.
Here’s the reaction from brewer, Stephen Beaumont:
There is not, or should not be, a single craft beer aficionado in North America for whom this news is not a gut punch. I and many, many others have written extensively and repeatedly about how Fritz Maytag’s Anchor Brewing Company was the catalyst for the development of ‘microbrewing’ on this continent, and I have spoken to countless brewery founders for whom Anchor was an inspiration. Would there be craft brewing today but for Anchor? Probably, I think it was inevitable given the times. But would it take the same shape it has today? Almost certainly not. Further, Anchor is a bona fide piece of San Francisco history and heritage, and should be protected by the city council against redevelopment immediately! If Sapporo — formerly solid stewards of the brands and breweries they have bought — are unable to realize the profit potential in the land the brewery occupies, it might force them to sell the company as an entity rather than as bits and pieces of scrap and land and intellectual property. This is much more than a simple brewery closure, folks. This is a loss of history and an abrogation of responsibility to future generations!