Beer enthusiasts around the world are feeling a sense of loss as Anchor Brewing, a long-standing and beloved brewery in the craft brewing scene, has announced its closure. Known for its iconic Steam Beer and a range of other beer varieties, Anchor Brewing has been a San Francisco institution for many years.
The news of the brewery’s closure was initially reported by Dave Infante of Vinepair, and it was later confirmed by spokesperson Sam Singer in a press release. Singer explained that Anchor Brewing had been facing significant financial losses, making it economically unsustainable to continue operations. Despite efforts to find a buyer over the past few years, the brewery ultimately had to make the difficult decision to cease operations due to the impacts of the pandemic, inflation, and intense competition in the market.
The closure of Anchor Brewing not only marks the end of an era in the craft brewing world but also means that 61 individuals have lost their jobs. In 2017, the brewery was acquired by Japanese beer company Sapporo, but dissatisfaction among employees regarding the management style, particularly after unionization in 2019, had been a concern. Just recently, it was announced that Anchor’s distribution would be limited to California, and the discontinuation of their fan-favorite Christmas Ale added to the disappointment.
Established in 1896 by Ernst F. Baruth and Otto Schinkel, Jr., Anchor Brewing survived Prohibition and flourished when Fritz Maytag, of the renowned Maytag family, acquired a majority stake in 1965. The brewery gained popularity with the introduction of Anchor Steam beer in 1971, named after the practice of outdoor fermentation that created steam in the cool night air. In 1993, Anchor opened its own distillery, Anchor Distilling, which later rebranded as Hotaling & Co. in 2018 and became a separate entity.
While the craft brewing industry offers a variety of options, the closure of Anchor Brewing is a reminder of the challenges many breweries have faced in recent years, with numerous closures. It is a time to reflect on the impact of these closures and appreciate the legacy of Anchor Brewing. If you have the opportunity to enjoy a bottle or can of Anchor Steam, even outside of California, take a moment to raise your glass and toast to this iconic symbol of craft beer.