San Francisco-based Anchor brewery hopes to expand with sale to Japanese beer maker

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Since 1896, Anchor Brewing has been a San Francisco based company. But today, the beloved local brewery announced they are selling to Japanese beer maker, Sapporo.

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"We finally found the right partner who truly believes in continuing the legacy of Anchor in San Francisco," said Anchor Brewers and Distillers CEO, Keith Greggor.

Greggor says he spent eighteen months talking to potential buyers and says the sale to Sapporo Holdings, for an undisclosed amount, will be final on August 31, 2017.

"It's an institution here and I fear that it will change," says Tom Robinson who lives in San Francisco and has been on Anchor's tour at their Potrero Hill brewhouse. Fellow San Franciscan, Alexandra Pray has similar fears,"I hope that the change in ownership won't affect the quality of the product because it's something I'm proud to have as a San Franciscan."

Greggor insists it won't, he says Sopporo intends to keep the company based in San Francisco and keep the recipes the same.

In an increasingly competitive beer market, Greggor says he had to sell Anchor to ensure the company's survival, "we were treading water." Despite being America's first and oldest craft brewery (this is how the company bills itself), Greggor says competition in the beer market has exploded since he took over the company seven years ago. "(In) 2010 there were 1600 breweries and it was not a global business, today 7,000 breweries and it is a global business."

According to Greggor, the options at the bar and competition in the craft beer world has taken away part of their share of the market. "Total beer consumption in San Francisco dropped 10 percent last year, this is our biggest market."

Greggor says Anchor is already in 20 countries, but in order to sell more beer and survive and grow as a company, they needed to sell to a global beer company like Sapporo who can distribute Anchor beers to more countries around the world.

Greggor says right now, Anchor is brewing at about 60% capacity out of their Potrero Hill facility, but they hope to reach 100% in the next 4 to 5 years. If that happens, where the company expands will be up to Sapporo.
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