Even after over a century, Anchor Brewing Company continues to generate caché in San Francisco. Ernst F. Baruth and son-in-law Otto Schinkel, Jr. founded Anchor in 1896, and the brewery’s overcome fire, earthquake, Prohibition, multiple venue changes, and the brewery’s persevered thanks to people like Fritz Maytag, who saved Anchor from bankruptcy in 1965. Anchor still commands more than a month wait just for people to take a tour.
Anchor’s best known for steam beer, a patented style of brewing that dates to the Gold Rush, but the line-up also includes Liberty Ale, Brekle’s Brown, Summer and Christmas beers, Bock and more. In 1993, they added Anchor Distilling Company and now have a portfolio that runs dozens deep, including Barsol Pisco, Chinaco tequila and Junipero Gin.
Flags were flying on Anchor Brewing Co.’s roof, including one for the San Francisco Giants, who subsequently swept the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series.
People covet spots on Anchor tours, which require reservations far in advance. Once inside, it’s possible to drink alongside breaking employees in the bar and tour the gorgeous copper brewhouse. Of course you won’t find a wider selection of Anchor beers anywhere else.
Anchor also keeps a line-up of bottles on top of the bar.
I scored a pour of Mark’s Mild, an English-style beer from brewmaster Mark Carpenter that’s part of Anchor’s Zymaster’s Series.
Anchor Brewing Co. features plenty of beer memorabilia in its second floor bar, including wall-mounted tins.
If only I could buy a glass of cold steam beer for 15 cents, as the sandwich board in Anchor’s bar offered.
I descended into the belly of the brewhouse and found employees bottling their legendary Christmas Ale.
Copper must be Anchor’s color, since the still for Anchor Distilling Company was also crafted from that precious metal.
Alongside the still, I found longtime Anchor distiller Bruce Joseph, who started as a brewer for Fritz Maytag before switching to spirits in 1993.
Anchor has a private bar for special events and account education on the top floor, where they display (and utilize) their vast spirit line-up.