Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seismic shift: ANCHOR BREWING SOLD

I awoke this morning to startling news.

Anchor Brewing Company —the brewery that begat the good beer renaissance in the United States—  has been sold. Here's the story as it broke Monday evening, 26 April, at the Brookston Beer Bulletin:

The Griffin Group, an investment and consulting company focused on beverage alcohol brands, announced its acquisition of Anchor Brewing Company which includes its portfolio of craft beers and artisan spirits, including the award winning Anchor Steam Beer.

The Griffin Group is led by beverage alcohol veterans, Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio, two longtime San Francisco residents who have been working with Anchor Brewing Company’s owner, Fritz Maytag to maintain the iconic brewery and distillery in San Francisco.

"Anchor Brewing Company has a long history in San Francisco and The Griffin Group is ushering in an exciting era while maintaining our proud, time-honored history,” said Fritz Maytag. “Combining Keith and Tony’s passion for the Anchor Brewing Company, their industry experience and expertise only means that Anchor will be enjoyed in San Francisco for generations to come."

"Since 1896, Anchor Brewing Company has been an icon of San Francisco’s history and culture,” stated Griffin’s Founding Partner, Keith Greggor, "I am honored to bring Anchor Brewing Company into our family of craft beers and artisanal spirits through establishing Anchor Brewers & Distillers, LLC."


Anchor Brewery Sold
Jay Brooks
Brookston beer Bulletin
26 April 2010

According to Brooks, Gregor and his business partner achieved their success creating Sky Vodka. They own the US distribution rights to Brew Dog, a small brewery in Scotland, the current rave fave of many in the craft beer world.

The Anchor Brewing Company was founded in San Francisco in 1895 as the Viking Brewing Company. The name was changed to Anchor in 1907.

The brewery was close to folding when graduate student Fritz Maytag —of the Maytag washing machine empire— purchased it in 1965. Its facilities were decrepid, its sales near moribund. The conversion to success took several years of struggle.

There have been many, many, other adventuresome breweries since 1965. But for a good 20 years after Maytag purchased Anchor,  there were few so-called micros at all. Anchor Brewing, and Mr. Maytag,  spawned the good beer revolution.

Now, after 45 years, THE icon of good beer in the United States has been sold. Anchor is not a public museum. It is a for-profit business. Anchor Steam, among several fine beers in the brewery's roster, remains —at present— a damn tasty beverage.

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  • The Anchor timeline above was taken from American Breweries II (Dale Van Wieren, 1995). The San Francisco Chronicle mentions a 40 year earlier timeline (here), even though it contradicts itself (here), seeming to side with Wieren. The brewery itself cites the year 1896, at its homepage.
  • UPDATE:  Jay Brooks interviews one of the new owners: here.

3 comments:

  1. Have to hope that Fritz knows what he's doing, and that he wouldn't have sold it to just anyone.

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  2. @Dan - Agreed! It seems Mr. Maytag has had many suitors over the years and the rumor is he wouldn't sell to big business. These guys are long time locals - Anchor is their backyard.

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  3. Seems sad, but hopefully it will maintain its high quality products. I mean that's probably why it was an attractive investment. It's business baby.

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