Historic Beer Birthday: Ernst F. Baruth

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Today is the birthday of Ernst F. Baruth (April 28, 1842-February 1906). While what would become Anchor Brewing began during the California Gold Rush when Gottlieb Brekle arrived from Germany and began brewing in San Francisco at what he called the Golden City Brewery, it didn’t become known as Anchor Brewing until 1896, when “Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the old brewery on Pacific Avenue and named it Anchor. The brewery burned down in the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake, but was rebuilt at a different location in 1907.” Baruth had passed away the same year as the earthquake, shortly before it.

According to Anchor Brewery’s website:

[In 1896] German brewer Ernst Frederick Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the old brewery on Pacific (the first of six Anchor locations around the City over the years) and named it Anchor. No one knows why Baruth and Schinkel chose the name Anchor, except, perhaps, for its indirect but powerful allusion to the booming Port of San Francisco.

Surprisingly, there isn’t much biographical information about Baruth. He was born somewhere in Germany, and arrived in New York City on August 13, 1875, on a ship named the “SS Neckar” that departed from Bremen, Germany and then sailed to Southampton, England, before heading west to America.

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The Anchor Brewery in the early 1900s.

Beer Birthday: Bruce Joseph

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Bruce Joseph, who’s been at Anchor Brewery for many, many years turns 60, the Big 6-0 today. There’s a big picture of him when he was very young in the stairwell at the brewery that I see every time I’m there. He’s been doing the distilling for Anchor’s whiskey and gin for a long while now and plays bass with the Hysters (Anchor’s big band) along with the Rolling Boil Blues Band (the Celebrator beer band that’s all industry musicians). If there’s a nicer person in the beer industry, I’ve yet to meet him. Join me in wishing Bruce a very happy birthday.

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On stage at the Northern California Rhythm & Blues Festival several years ago.

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A self-portrait of Bruce and me at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2006.

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With Melissa Myers at the Falling Rock during GABF 2007.

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With Garrett Oliver at an industry event during GABF years ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: Joe Allen

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Today is the birthday of Joe Allen (February 9, 1888-April 24, 1976). Allen’s parents were Irish and came to America, settling in Minnesota, in 1883. At some point, Joe made his way to San Francisco and was working as a brewer at the Anchor Brewery when it reopened after the end of prohibition in 1933 at 1610 Harrison Street. Unfortunately, less than a year later, in February of 1934, the brewery burned to the ground. Owner Joe Kraus then partnered with his brewmaster, Joe Allen, and they re-built the brewery in an old brick building at 398 Kansas Street, by 1st Street.

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Here, I’ll let Anchor Brewery’s website take up the story from The Era of Mass Production.

Kraus and Allen valiantly and lovingly kept Anchor afloat until Kraus’s death in 1952. By late 1959, America’s—even San Francisco’s—new-found “taste” for mass-produced, heavily marketed lighter beers had taken its toll on Anchor’s already declining sales. In July of that year, at the age of 71, Joe Allen shut Anchor down for what would, thankfully, be a brief period.

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Again, Anchor Brewing picks up the story, Surviving Another Challenge from 1960.

Lawrence Steese bought and re-opened Anchor in 1960 at yet another nearby location, retaining Joe Allen to carry Anchor’s craft brewing tradition forward. But one of Anchor’s oldest accounts, the Crystal Palace Market had already closed its doors. And Steese had an increasingly difficult time convincing loyal Bay Area establishments to continue serving Anchor Steam. By 1965, Steese—like Allen six years before—was ready to shut Anchor down.

The next year, 1961, the brewery moved to 541 8th Street, where it remained until 1977. Of course, in 1965, another owner invested in the brewery, eventually buying out the remaining partners. That, you probably already know, was Fritz Maytag. There’s not much I could find on Allen’s life before and after he worked at, and then owned, the Anchor Brewery, not even the year of his death. If anyone has any more information, please leave a comment below or contact me directly.

Beer Birthday: Fritz Maytag

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Fritz Maytag, who bought the failing Anchor Brewery in 1965 and turned it into a model for the microbrewery revolution, celebrates his 78th birthday today. It’s no stretch to call Fritz the father of craft beer, he introduced so many innovations that are common today and influenced countless brewers working today. In the last few years, Maytag sold Anchor Brewery and Distillery to Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio of the Griffin Group, but continues to make his York Creek wine and consult with Anchor as Chairman Emeritus. I was happy to see him again recently at the CCBA’s California Beer Summit in September of this year. Join me in wishing Fritz a very happy birthday.

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Fritz Maytag at the Anchor Christmas party in 2006 with fellow Anchor-ites John Dannerbeck and Mark Carpenter.

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Fritz with the organizers of SF Beer Week at our inaugural opening event at Anchor in 2009.

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Fritz with fellow speakers at the Herbst Museum Symposium a couple of years ago, from left: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie Bamforth.

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Ken Grossman, me and Fritz at a beer dinner at Anchor celebrating Sierra Nevada’s 30th anniversary.

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Me and Fritz at the Anchor Christmas Party a few years ago.

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Me and Fritz at the California Beer Summit this September.

Beer Birthday: Bob Brewer

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Today is the 67th birthday of Bob Brewer, longtime brewery rep. for Anchor Brewing. For many years, he worked from southern California, circling the country with the entire nation his territory (the only exception being the Bay Area) representing Anchor beers. More recently, he moved back to the Bay Area, but you could find him at every nook and cranny of the beer world. Earlier this year, Bob retired from Anchor, although he still occasionally works a festival or does other work, like giving a great talk at my class this past spring. Join me in wishing Bob a very happy birthday.

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Bob serving a festival-goer at the Mammoth Lakes Bluesapalooza in 2007.

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Bob giving a tour at Anchor.

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Bob serves up the then-new Anchor Bock to Portland beer sage Fred Eckhardt.

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Me, brewer Mike Lee and Bob at the 2011 Anchor Christmas party.

Anchor Christmas Day 2015

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Time was when today, the Monday before Thanksgiving, was the traditional day on which Anchor’s Our Special Ale — a.k.a. their Christmas Ale — was released each year. Every year since 1975 the brewers at Anchor Brewery have brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is now available from early November to mid-January.
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From this year’s press release:

This is the forty-first annual Christmas Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid–January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew.

Our tree for 2015 is the Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara), better known as the California Christmas Tree. Native of the Himalayas, it takes its name from the ancient Sanskrit devadaru, meaning timber of the gods. This coniferous evergreen, with its gracefully droopy branches and blue-green needles, has been a San Francisco favorite for over 150 years.

The annual search for the perfect tree for our Christmas Ale label usually takes us far afield. This one began and ended with the search for a parking space near the Brewery! Getting out of the car, we couldn’t help but notice the way the late-afternoon sun danced amid the branches of two lovely Deodars just half a block from Anchor’s front door.

Our longtime label artist Jim Stitt — who has been drawing trees for us since 1975 — loved “our” Deodars and, like us, was amused that they were about as local as local gets! His charming illustration evokes the radiant beauty of our arboreal neighbors as well as the spirit of the season. Cheers from the Anchor brewers!

Even though for the last several years, Anchor’s Christmas Ale is released in early November, I continue to observe Anchor Christmas Day on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I know I’m a sentimental old fool, but I liked that they used to wait that long to release it, even though I understand why they had to abandon it. But some things are worth waiting for. If you agree with me, please join me in drinking a glass of this year’s seasonal release tonight. Happy Anchor Christmas Day!

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Anchor To Release Liberty Ale In Cans

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Anchor Brewery announced today that they will be releasing Liberty Ale in 12 oz. cans, at least for a limited time. The cans are “a commemorative offering celebrating the 40th anniversary of the historic beer that started a revolution.” From the press release:

“I remember brewing the first batch of Liberty Ale with Fritz Maytag 40 years ago. We were both young and eager beer lovers and knew we wanted to create a beer unlike anything else at that time,” said Anchor Brewing Brewmaster Mark Carpenter. “We had come across a new hop variety called Cascade that had a distinct piney bitterness that we used in the brew. Through Fritz’s interest in history and travel he’d learned of a process European brewers used called dry-hopping; adding dry hops to beer fermenting in the cellar to boost its hoppy aroma. So we dry-hopped the ale with whole-cone Cascade hops, as well. During an era when light lagers were prevalent, Liberty Ale was a very hoppy ale for most people. Their palates were shocked and delighted by such a unique beer.”

The beer was originally sold to the public beginning in 1975, when the country was seized by bicentennial fever. Liberty Ale commemorated the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride. Considered the first American IPA brewed after prohibition,” it was also “the first modern dry-hopped ale in the US and was the beer that popularized the now-iconic Cascade hop.” Beginning this month, Liberty Ale 6-pack cans, as well as bottles and kegs, will be available throughout the U.S.

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Anchor To Release Double Liberty IPA

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I generally don’t like revealing a new beer coming from a brewery before they’ve officially announced it, preferring to let the brewery manage how that information is made public. But since others have revealed it online, and because it’s pretty big news, I’m breaking my own rule. Anchor Brewery has apparently created a new beer called Double Liberty IPA.

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The label has been approved, drawn by their longtime label artist Jim Stitt, although no date has yet been set for its release as far as I know right now. Since they only recently released their new Flying Cloud Stout, I suspect it will be a little while before it’s officially announced. The COLA search also reveals it will be both bottled as well as available in kegs.

According to the neck label, “Double Liberty IPA is made with 2-row pale malt and whole-cone Cascade hops.” It also apparently has “double the hops and double the IBUs.” They describe it as “imparting uniquely complex flavors and dry-hop aroma to this radically traditional IPA.” I love that phrase — “radically traditional.” It also weighs in at 8.2% a.b.v.

I’m sure we’ll learn more details soon. Anchor’s brewmaster Mark Carpenter is speaking to my class at Sonoma State on Wednesday, so hopefully he’ll be able to tell me more then. But frankly, I’m pretty excited to try this new beer. Liberty Ale has long been one of my favorite beers, and is the beer I always order first, each time I visit the brewery’s tap room. So an imperial version of that beer has to be worth trying, especially if Mark had a hand it creating it, as he did with the original Liberty 40 years ago.

Anchor Christmas Day 2014

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Time was when today, the Monday before Thanksgiving, was the traditional day on which Anchor’s Our Special Ale — a.k.a. their Christmas Ale — was released each year. Every year since 1975 the brewers at Anchor Brewery have brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is now available from early November to mid-January.
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From this year’s press release:

“Every year we’ve changed our Christmas Ale. It hasn’t just been for change’s sake, though,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing Company. “For the past few years we’ve evolved the recipe to perfect a particular style of dark spiced ale and I believe we succeeded. So this year we went on a different path, exploring new possibilities and making larger changes. I’m happy to say we’re very pleased with the results. This year’s ale is aromatic with hints of citrus fruit, spices, and subtle piney hop notes. The flavor has a sarsaparilla-like sweetness with rich caramel maltiness and a pleasantly balanced back-end bitterness. The mouth feel is smooth with a full, velvety texture. The beer pairs well with rich meats, thick saucy dishes, roasted vegetables, and even your aunt’s fruitcake! We’re happy with this year’s Christmas Ale and while I don’t yet know where we’ll take it next year, we’ll continue to keep Anchor fans guessing as we do every year.”

Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew. The tree depicted on the 2014 Christmas Ale is the Giant Sequoia. It was hand-drawn by James Stitt, who has been creating Christmas Ale labels since 1975, to look as a “Big Tree” planted in 1975 might look today.

Anchor Brewing chose the Giant Sequoia for the 40th annual Christmas Ale in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Act. Signed into law by President Lincoln during the Civil War, it granted the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California “for public use, resorts, and recreation.” The first such land grant in American history, it marked the beginning of the California State Parks.

Anchor first began their active support of the California State Parks when they announced in 2012 that proceeds of Anchor California Lager would benefit the California State Parks Foundation. This year’s Christmas Ale continues the celebration of one of the Golden State’s most precious institutions and its natural heritage.

Christmas Ale is a traditional “Wassail” of medieval England. In the olden days, brewers often used delicious blends of natural spices to give their Christmas ale a distinctive character. Similarly brewed, the Anchor Christmas Ale recipe remains a closely guarded secret every year. It’s always brewed using malted barley, fresh whole hops, and a true “top-fermenting” yeast. Its deep, rich color is produced by using a blend of roasted malts, carefully selected to achieve not only the deep color of this ale, but also to provide much of its distinctive malty flavor. The whole-cone hops provide a balanced back-end bitterness and subtle piney hop aroma. This is accompanied with aromas of citrus fruit and herbal spices.

Even though for the last few years, Anchor’s Christmas Ale is released in early November, I continue to observe Anchor Christmas Day on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I know I’m a sentimental old fool, but I liked that they used to wait that long to release it, even though I understand why they had to abandon it. But some things are worth waiting for. If you agree with me, please join me in drinking a glass of this year’s seasonal release tonight. Happy Anchor Christmas Day!

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Anchor’s BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red Returns For Fall

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BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red, Anchor Brewing‘s fall seasonal, is back on store shelves and on draft in bars from now until the end of October. This is just the second year for the 6% a.b.v. red ale, which debuted last fall. The beer uses a “unique blend of hops — Nelson Sauvin, Citra, and Cascade for dry hopping — specialty malts including a combination of two caramel malts and pale malt,” with a hint of maple syrup that makes it “unlike any other red ale today.”

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First released in August 2013, BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red was inspired by a native California tree, its incredible leaves, its delicious syrup, and the colors of fall. The tree, known as Bigleaf maple, thrives along the banks of California’s mountain streams. Native Californians once made rope and baskets from its bark. Bigleaf maple sugaring in California dates to the 1800s; yet this tree’s unusually flavorful syrup remains the product of a small group of hobbyists. A hint of maple—including bigleaf maple—syrup in every brew perfectly complements the malty complexity, balanced hoppiness, and rich fall hue of BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red.

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Anchor also released a video about their fall seasonal.