Anchor Brewing Company's traditional past inspires an innovative future

ByChris Bollini Localish logo
Monday, August 22, 2022
Anchor Brewing Company crafts an innovative future
Anchor Brewing Company, the founding father of the craft beer movement, continues to lead the way in creating innovative beer.San Francisco's Anchor Brewing Company, the founding father of the craft beer movement, continues to lead the way in creating innovative beer.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Anchor Brewing Company and its beer have long been a part of the San Francisco landscape.

"We've been here since 1869. We're a bedrock business of this city," Anchor Brewing Brewmaster Tom Riley reveals, "We have literally grown up with San Francisco."

More than a century later, the company still produces "steam beer," a style of beer born in San Francisco during the Gold Rush days.

"Anchorsteam beer is the same way it's always been," Riley says.

Starting on the packaging line back in 1984, Tom Riley, now brewmaster, recognizes the significance of the company's past.

"This company is steeped in history. If you learn those stories, you can have the beer that really tells the story, history in a bottle," Riley adds.

In 1965, Fritz Maytag purchased Anchor Brewing when it was on the verge of closure.

"Fritz Maytag recognized the historical significance of this beer, of this small company that preserved this process, that's what he fell in love with when he bought the company," Riley explains. "From there, he just went on a mission to improve the quality of the beer, he ended up bringing it to the world."

Maytag honored the past, but he also looked to the future. When he reintroduced production of other traditional beer styles like porters and wheat beers, he became 'the godfather' of the craft brew movement."

"He created this amazing portfolio of beers that we have today based on that idea of crafting it by hand, exploration, and artistic ways of doing things," Anchor Brewing Assistant Brewmaster Dane Volek says.

Starting back in 1975, Anchor's annual Christmas Ale is a prime example of the company's commitment to innovation.

"Different recipes. Different ingredients," Volek explains, "It's something we really look forward to as brewers because we know, regardless of anything else, that beer is going to be a different beer every year. It's always fun."

Anchor Brewing Company has opened Public Taps, a space for people to try their beers, both old and new like their West Coast IPA.

"This is our innovation lab, where we innovate with our new products, where people can come try the beer anytime that fits for them," Volek shares, "It means a lot to see people enjoying our products all across the country. It's just the highlight to my days."

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