California /

America's Oldest Craft Brewery Closes After 127 Years

‘Right now, these are some tough economic times,’ said a spokesman for Anchor Brewing. ‘And Anchor's demise is symbolic of that'

America will lose its oldest craft brewery after 127 years of operations.

San Francisco-based Anchor Brewing announced on July 12 that it will close its business, citing economic challenges and almost seven years of declining sales.

“This was an extremely difficult decision that Anchor reached only after many months of careful evaluation,” said Anchor Brewing spokesperson Sam Singer, per ABC 7. “We recognize the importance and historic significance of Anchor to San Francisco and to the craft brewing industry, 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.”

“Right now, these are some tough economic times,” Singer said. “And Anchor’s demise is symbolic of that.”

The company made $10 million in 2022 – down from $12 million in 2021. The brand was purchased by Sapporo Holdings Limited in 2017 for $85 million

Sapporo said in a statement:

“Anchor was significantly affected by the impact of the novel coronavirus, and such impact was particularly prolonged in the San Francisco area. As a result, Anchor’s sales have significantly decreased. Over the past several years, we implemented a variety of measures to improve the business, such as releasing new products, product renewals, and making brand investments. However, Anchor’s business performance continued to be sluggish. Since it would be difficult to improve profitability in the medium to long term, Anchor decided to commence the [Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors process].”

The 61 Anchor Brewing employees were given 60-day notice on the same day the company’s closure was publicly announced. They will receive transition support and separation packages.

The company is no longer brewing new batches of beer but will continue packaging and distributing its remaining inventory through the end of July.

Anchor Brewing dates its origins to the California Gold Rush.

First brewed in 1896, and then revived when Frederick Louis ‘Fritz’ Maytag III re-opened the historical brewery in 1965, Anchor Steam Beer saw its first modern bottling in 1971,” reports Vine Pair. “The name’s origin likely originates in the brewery’s age-old practice of fermenting beer on the rooftop, due to lack of cooling equipment and ice, creating ‘steam’ rising from the rooftops in the chilly San Francisco evening air… Anchor Steam is believed to be the first non-industrial beer produced, post-Prohibition, in the United States.”

San Francisco’s business community was devastated by COVID-19 and prolonged restrictions on operations. In September 2021, 60% of the city’s restaurants announced they had lost business when San Francisco required dine-in patrons to prove they had been vaccinated. Several chain businesses, like Whole Foods, have moved out of the city due to a combination of issues caused by COVID-19, increasing crime, and rising drug use. 

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