The nation’s oldest craft brewery is closing down after 127 years of operations
“I think Sapporo sunk Anchor.” That’s what one former employee told Vine Pair, which broke the story on Tuesday. Anchor Brewing will shut down entirely and the assets will be liquidated. The company recently decided to stop distribution to 49 states and focus solely on its home state of California. Also, Anchor announced that it was ending production of its iconic Anchor Christmas Ale. Signs of impending doom, it turns out.
In the mid-1960s, Fritz Maytag purchased the then-failing Anchor Brewing and began to fashion it into the kind of brewery we now call a craft brewery. In 1975, Anchor Brewing introduced its winter seasonal beer, Christmas Ale. The brewery was acquired by Sapporo USA in 2017.
Today’s news brings the brewery’s 127-year history to an unceremonious end. The company issued a press release early Wednesday. “We recognize the importance and historic significance of Anchor to San Francisco and to the craft brewing industry,” said a company spokesman. “But the impacts of the pandemic, inflation, especially in San Francisco, and a highly competitive market left the company with no option but to make this sad decision to cease operations.”
Dave Infante, the Vine Pair reporter who broke the story and has followed the ongoing issues at the brewery, said that Anchor’s employees saw problems beyond those cited in the press release. Workers say that since the Sapporo acquisition, the company has fought with the union that represents Anchor’s employees, deferred maintenance on the facility, and invested in costly automation with the hope of fitting Anchor Brewing into Sapporo’s larger ambitions.
According to the release, “Anchor made repeated efforts over the last year to find buyers for the brewery and its brands, but none have come to fruition. It is possible that a buyer will step forward for the brewery as part of the liquidation process.”
Anchor Brewing’s employees have now received their 60-day notice. The press release says that the company will “provide transition support and separation packages in line with company practices and policies.”
For a deeper dive into this story, read Dave Infante’s story on Vine Pair.