It survived the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906, Prohibition, and both world wars. But recent economic pressures have proved too much for the nation’s oldest craft brewery. The Anchor Brewing Company is going out of business after 127 years.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the company, which was founded in 1896, said the effects of the pandemic, inflation and a highly competitive market “have forced us to make the sad decision to cease operations.” The company said it gave employees 60 days’ notice and promised severance pay. Anker added that while it has stopped brewing beer, it will continue to pack and sell beer as long as it is available. It will be sold in draft as long as stock remains.
The brewery’s sales have been declining since 2016, and in 2017 the company Acquired Japanese beer giant Sapporo won the auction for about $85 million.
“The pandemic was the crisis that hit the heart of Anchor,” company spokesman Sam Singer said Wednesday by phone, noting that 70% of its products were sold in restaurants and bars. In 2021, Anchor his brewing tried to adapt. rebrand And it plans to bottle and can more beer to sell in grocery stores. But those changes “couldn’t make up for the significant drop in sales,” he added. In a last-ditch effort to keep the business afloat, Anchor limited its beer sales to California and stopped making one of its products, Christmas Ale.
However, expenses continued to outpace income. “The bottom line is that the anchor ran out of money and ran out of time,” Singer said.
Anchor, beloved by many Americans and often thought to have spurred the craft beer revival of the 1960s, is the latest brewer to bow to the pressures of a competitive marketplace.In recent years, many small breweries absorbed by large corporations. Some companies have reworked their distribution models. with shutter.
Regional breweries like Anchor, big enough to sell beer nationally but small enough to be considered craft breweries, are the most vulnerable. Jarrett Hart, a scholar of agriculture and economics at the University of California, Davis, whose research has focused on craft beer, said they’re working with both local microbreweries and macrobreweries like Coors and Miller. said it faces competition from “They are facing profit losses every year and are losing market share overall,” he said.
After Anchor was acquired by Sapporo, workers spoke up They complained of inadequate wages and unfair working conditions and voted to form a union in 2019.
Bay Area Brewers Guild executive director Joan Marino said Wednesday that Anchor’s closure was not surprising given the devastating economic realities. But she said the news was still heartbreaking.
“Every time a small brewery is acquired by a large multinational conglomerate, the calculations for its survival change slightly,” said Marino. “Not a surprise, but a shock and a very sad day here.”
Anchor Brewing said it has made repeated efforts to find buyers for the brewery and its brands, but none have materialized. Singer said the brewery has seen many crises in its history and hopes it may still have a chance to come back if a buyer comes forward during the liquidation process.
“The San Francisco flag is the phoenix rising from the ashes, and there have been many phoenix moments in Anchor’s history,” Singer said. “But it’s out of our hands now,” he added. “We can only hope for the best.”