America’s Oldest Craft Brewery Is Closing

Despite the disastrous 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Prohibition, and two world wars, it managed to thrive.

Despite claims to being the nation’s oldest craft brewer, Anchor Brewing Company is closing its doors after 127 years in business due to recent economic constraints.

The 1896-founded firm claimed in a statement that it was “with no option but to make this sad decision to cease operations” due to the effects of the epidemic, inflation, and a very competitive market.

The corporation stated that employees were guaranteed severance compensation and given 60 days’ notice.

Anchor further stated that while it had ceased production, it would keep on packaging and delivering beer as supplies allowed. As long as supplies last, it will be sold on draft, according to the statement.

After seeing a steady decline in sales beginning in 2016, Japanese beer behemoth Sapporo paid approximately $85 million to acquire the brewer in 2017.

In a phone interview on Wednesday, Anchor spokesman Sam Singer said, “The stake through the heart of Anchor was the pandemic.”

He went on to say that 70 percent of the company’s goods had been sold in restaurants and bars. Anchor Brewing rebranded and increased bottling and canning of its beers in 2021 in an effort to adapt and sell them in grocery stores.

A substantial drop in revenues meant those adjustments “couldn’t make up for it,” he said. Anchor halted production of a Christmas brew and restricted sales to California in a last-ditch effort to remain in business.

However, spending kept surpassing income. “Anchor ran out of money and ran out of time,” Mr. Singer stated.

Popular American brewer Anchor is the latest to go out of business in today’s cutthroat beer industry.

Anchor was a major player in the craft beer revival of the 1960s and is mourned by many beer lovers.

A lot of bigger breweries have bought up their smaller competitors in the past few years. There are others who have either closed down or altered their distribution models.

The brewers most at risk are regional ones, such as Anchor, which is big enough to distribute its beer nationally but still tiny enough to be categorized as a craft brewery.

University of California, Davis agriculture and economics professor Jarrett Hart, whose research has concentrated on craft beer, noted that they confront competition from both small and large breweries.

He mentioned that the company has been losing market share and has been experiencing declining profitability year after year.

Workers at Anchor opted to form a union in 2019 after Sapporo bought out the company, citing low wages and unfavorable working conditions as reasons.

On Wednesday, Joanne Marino, the head honcho of the Bay Area Brewers Guild, stated that the closure of Anchor was, in light of the devastating economic reality, not surprising. Nevertheless, she expressed her sadness over the news.

According to Ms. Marino, “the calculus changes a little bit for their existence” whenever a local brewery gets bought out by a major global conglomerate. “This is a very sad day here, and while it’s not surprising, it is shocking.”

The folks at Anchor Brewing have been trying to sell the company and its brands for a while now, but so far, nothing has worked.

Despite the brewery’s troubled past, Mr. Singer expressed optimism that a buyer could emerge during the liquidation process and give it a second shot.

As Mr. Singer put it, “Anchor has had many phoenix moments in its history,” much like the phoenix that appears on San Francisco’s flag.

“However, we no longer have control over that,” he quips. “May the best case scenario unfold.”

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