Hope on tap in San Jose to reopen 127-year-old Anchor Brewing with 'Solidarity Ale'

Anchor Brewing Company, often referred to as America's 1st craft brewery, closed in July

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Monday, September 4, 2023
Hope on tap in San Jose to reopen SF's iconic Anchor Brewing Company
San Jose brewery released a 'Solidarity Ale' in support of former Anchor Brewing Company employees working to buy and reopen 127-year-old business.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- This Labor Day weekend, a San Jose brewery has released a 'Solidarity Ale' in support of former Anchor Brewing Company employees who are working to buy and reopen the century-old brewery.

With the pull of a tap handle, there's a renewed sense of hope for Anchor Brewing.

"So the goal of the beer was that we're raising awareness that the union group has a mission to purchase back the brewery and turn it into a worker cooperative," Felipe Bravo, co-owner and co-founder of Fox Tale Fermentation Project said.

MORE: SF's Anchor Brewing Company, country's 1st craft brewery, shutting down after 127 years

After 127 years in business, San Francisco's Anchor Brewing Company is shutting down as they faced declining sales since 2016.

Anchor Brewing Company, often referred to as America's first craft brewery, closed its doors back in July, after 127 years in business.

Ever since, a group of its former employees have been working on a plan to buy and reopen the San Francisco brewery.

"It's important to us that we support each other because seeing the dominos fall, breweries closing is a really scary thought, especially for a brand new brewery that just opened up but in the end, they're not our competitors, they're people that we look up to and they're an inspiration brewery," Bravo said.

That's why newlyweds, Felipe and Wendy Bravo, co-owners and co-founders of Fox Tale Fermentation Project, based out of San Jose, came up with a Solidarity ale.

MORE: Anchor Brewing Co. workers gain support from SF supervisors to take over business

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors are showing support for Anchor Brewing Company employees to own the company.

It is based off California Common, the steam beer that made Anchor famous, with 100% of proceeds going to the Anchor union.

"We want to see more of the power going into the hands of the people and we want to see that a group going through a challenge like this can survive," Wendy said.

Launched, serendipitously on Labor Day Weekend.

"One person, one small company, one individual on their own just really can only do so much but together, when people form together, when people have unions, when people stand together, there's a lot of power and that's what this all represents," she said.

MORE: Workers looking to buy SF's Anchor Brewing Co. as co-op after closure announcement

And so far, the response from customers has been nothing short of positive, bringing in customers like Virginia Thornton, to raise a glass of solidarity.

"Super refreshing," Virginia Thornton, a San Jose resident said. "I'm so glad somebody's doing it and if somebody's doing it, then we gotta show up and support! So I was so happy when I heard about it."

All in hopes, that other breweries or establishments might follow suit.

"If us, as a tiny business, really just getting started, can make this statement and make this move and make this gesture, then we're hoping that other folks who've got a lot more behind them can also do something like it," Wendy said.

MORE: Anchor Brewing union employees say they're not getting fair chance to bid for company

And so far, three other breweries already have, including Enterprise Brewing Co. in San Francisco, Mad Pursuit Brewing Company in Hollister and Ruhstaller in Sacramento.

"One of us can't do it but if we all join together, we can do a lot," she said.

Anchor union workers posted a GoFundMe to help former employees save Anchor Brewing Company.

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