Anchor Christmas Day 2013

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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:

“Here at Anchor, we strive to capture the spirit of the holiday season with our annual Christmas Ale,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “Much like Christmas morning, everyone anxiously awaits for the day that they can finally crack open a bottle of Christmas Ale and see what this year’s ale is going to taste like. We don’t just change the recipe and the label each year for change sake, each year we are trying to improve and make the best spiced ale we can make. We think beer lovers will be pleased when they taste the complex, spiced flavors of the our 2013 Christmas Ale.”

Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew. This year, Anchor Christmas Ale’s tree is the beautiful California White Fir. It was hand drawn by local artist James Stitt, who has been creating Christmas Ale labels for us since 1975.

Not everyone who came to California in 1849 came in search of gold. A few came in search of trees. English botanist William Lobb was one such plant hunter. As a collector of California’s exotic flora for English nurseries, the “lynx-eyed” Lobb (born in East Cornwall in 1809; died in San Francisco in 1864) was responsible for the introduction of fifty-eight species of California plants to English gardens, including Giant Sequoia and California White Fir.

In its youth, the symmetry of California White Fir’s pyramidal form makes it the ideal Christmas tree. Its shade tolerance allows it to thrive at modest size for years amid groves of much taller Sequoias; yet it can attain heights of up to 160 feet when given the opportunity. The winged seeds of the California White Fir are collected not only by botanists, but also by mountain songbirds, chipmunks, and squirrels.

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 Brewing Announces Zymaster #5: Harvest One American Pale Ale

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Anchor Brewing announced today the 5th beer in their Zymaster series. This latest offering — Harvest One American Pale Ale — is a beer made with a new, experimental hop variety. I had a chance to try it during GABF last week, and the nose has amazing peach aromas, with soft, fruit flavors.
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Here’s the full story, from the press release:

It’s hard to imagine that the Cascade hop, today one of craft brewing’s most popular hop varieties, was ever new. Yet this distinctively aromatic hop, developed in Oregon by the USDA’s breeding program, was first released in the early 1970s. In 1975, Anchor Brewing featured Cascade hops with the debut of Liberty Ale®, America’s first craft-brewed, dry-hopped ale. Anchor Brewing has been using it in Liberty Ale® ever since.

Over the years, Anchor Brewing experimented with many different hops—both old and new—from around the world. For Zymaster Series No. 5: Harvest One American Pale Ale, Anchor Brewing decided to feature an experimental new hop variety. This yet unnamed, pre-commercial, aroma hop provides a uniquely Anchor twist to Zymaster 5.

Zymaster Series No. 5 (7.2% ABV) is made with a special blend of pale, caramel, and Munich malts, which contribute a distinctively complex maltiness and deep golden color. Nugget hops give it a tangy bitterness. But the hallmark of Zymaster 5: Harvest One American Pale Ale is the intriguingly novel aroma of an experimental new hop, which was used liberally in both the brewhouse and the cellar. A late addition to the boil plus dry hopping provides Harvest One with an incredibly lively hop aroma reminiscent of tree-ripened peaches, with just a hint of fresh melon. The result is a uniquely exciting new beer unlike anything brewed or tasted before.

“We have a fantastic and long-lasting relationship with the hop growers we work with,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “When we had the opportunity to sample and test a small set of experimental hops that were being grown, we were excited at the opportunity to work with something new and different. Out of about a dozen or so samples, there was one that really stood out to us. Right away, we knew this was a new hop variety we wanted to brew on a large scale. We were after something unique and aromatic, and this hop was one we hadn’t seen or smelled before and decided it would fit well in our Zymaster Series. Similar to how Anchor introduced the world to the Cascade hop in 1975 with Liberty Ale, we are proud and excited to share our take on this new, experimental hop in this beer.”

It’s being released today in California, though not all markets within the state, on draft and in 22 oz. bottles, and will be rolled out nationally in the next few months.

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Anchor Announces New Fall Seasonal

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Today, Anchor Brewery announced that they’re releasing a new fall seasonal beer, BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red. According to the press release, the beer will be available beginning August 5 and will be around through October. In addition to draft, it will also be bottled in 6-packs and 22-oz. bombers.

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. Today, artisans handcraft its wood and burl into custom guitars.. 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, a red ale like no other.

“When presented with the challenge of developing a new seasonal beer, all of our brewers collaborated to think fall and came up with this red ale,” said Mark Carpenter, brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “We are very happy with the finished product, especially since we don’t do test batches here at Anchor. It requires us to be on top of our game when crafting new beers and BigLeaf Maple is a beer we’re all proud to share.”

BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red (6% ABV) is a quaffable, well-balanced red ale with character. Its malty complexity and coppery color come from a combination of two caramel malts, pale malt, and a hint of maple syrup. To complement these flavors, Anchor Brewing uses three additions of Nelson Sauvin hops in the brewkettle and a unique blend of Nelson Sauvin, Citra, and Cascade for dry hopping. The result is a distinctive fall seasonal with extraordinary depth and intriguing aroma.

Since the 1970’s, Anchor Brewing has worked with renowned local Artist Jim Stitt to create our beer labels. A distinct, handmade beer deserves a distinct, handmade label and BigLeaf Maple is no exception. In autumn, the bigleaf maple’s huge leaves, up to a foot across, can display a full range of color as they slowly turn from green to gold to red. Capturing this symbolic transition from summer to fall, a watercolor of bigleaf maple’s magnificent leaf is featured on our label and signed by Jim Stitt.

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Anchor’s History Of Beer & Baseball In San Francisco

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Dave Burkhart, Anchor Brewing‘s resdient historian, put together a great little video all about the connection between beer and baseball in San Francisco, along with its rich history, of course. The video brings to mind this great quote, by Peter Richmond. “Beer needs baseball, and baseball needs beer — it has always been thus.”

Anchor Brewing Announces Zymaster #4: Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale

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Anchor Brewing announced today the 4th beer in heir Zymaster series. This latest offering — Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale — is a beer made with local herbs from nearby Fort Ross, which is located along the coast in Sonoma County. This sounds like an interesting beer. I can’t wait to try it.
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Here’s the full story, from the press release:

Over 200 years ago, ninety miles up the coast from San Francisco, the Russian American Company built a stockade that became known as Fort Ross. It was home base for Russia’s fur trade and, in the 1820s and ’30s, supplied the Russian colony of New Archangel (now Sitka) with grain from “bread plants” like wheat and barley. The farms were small and the harvesting primitive. Reaping was done with sickles and threshing by driving horses over the sheaves.

Among the native plants at Fort Ross is a perennial evergreen shrub, prized by the local Indians for its healing powers, whose purple flowers bloom from May to early July. The Spanish missionaries called it Yerba Santa or Holy Herb. Our Zymaster® Series No. 4: Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale is inspired by the wheat, barley, and Yerba Santa at Fort Ross and the hardy souls who harvested them. Fermented with a local saison-style yeast, this unique brew celebrates the history and flora of Northern California like no other.

Our Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale (7.2% ABV) is a Belgian-style farmhouse ale with a California twist. The unique bitterness and earthy spiciness of Yerba Santa, a native California herb, perfectly complement the fruitiness and clove-like flavors created by a local saison-style yeast. And in addition to hops, barley malt, and wheat malt, we used toasted Belgian wheat malt, which gives our Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale its distinctive maltiness and burnished bronze color.

Zymaster Series No. 4: Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale will be available in draught and 22-ounce bottles and will be poured in select bars and restaurants throughout the United States, as well as the Anchor Taproom, starting June 2013.

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Anchor’s “Steam Beer Billy”

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Anchor Brewing released a fun three-part story over the past few days on their blog, pieced together by resident historian Dave Burkhart. The story, “Steam Beer Billy,” is a true story that was told in the San Francisco newspapers in 1898, 115 years ago. The story concerns William “Yankee” Sullivan and his pet goat, Jack, both apparently big fans of Steam Beer, and their exploits that began on New Year’s Eve and ended several days later, when Sullivan was finally out of jail and reunited with Jack.

Part one ran on Wednesday, part two yesterday, and part three finished off their tale today. Enjoy.

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More on Anchor’s Pier 48 San Francisco Brewery

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With the San Francisco Chronicle breaking the news last night about Anchor Brewery building a second, and much larger, brewery near the waterfront at Pier 48, I was immediately keen to find out more. I knew from my earlier discussions with the new owners, and especially Keith Greggor, that they wanted to build the business but were dead set on keeping the business in San Francisco. But since they’re already the largest manufacturer within the city limits, that prospect must have been a daunting — and ultimately very expensive — task.

The new proposed brewery is being built in partnership with the San Francisco Giants and their 27-acre Mission Rock development project. Here’s more information about it from the press release released this morning.

Anchor will continue to operate its facility in Potrero Hill, but will greatly expand its operations with the development of the Pier 48 facility. The two facilities will allow the company to quadruple its annual production capacity from 180,000 barrels to 680,000 barrels.

Pier 48, the southern-most structure of the Port’s Embarcadero Historic District, will be fully rehabilitated and re-established as an industrial hub of the central waterfront. The new Anchor facility will feature production facilities for brewing, distilling, packaging, storing, and shipping; a restaurant, museum and educational facility in the headhouse of Pier 48; and a restored walkway around the entire pier apron that will connect pedestrians to the Portwalk and allow views into the Anchor brewhouse. Anchor will offer tours of the facilities and educational seminars with a focus on the history of craft beer, the art of craft distilling and Anchor’s history in San Francisco. The construction project beginning late 2014 will feature the use of green and sustainable materials, setting the standard for a modern urban brewery.

The Anchor expansion will create approximately 200 new jobs, 75% of which are production-oriented positions that employ a diverse work force.

“We are making things in San Francisco and creating a magnet for jobs for thousands of people from every background in our thriving local manufacturing sector,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “Making sure our homegrown companies stay and grow right here in San Francisco remains my top priority and I want to thank Anchor Brewing and the San Francisco Giants for driving the engine of economic growth, bringing jobs and revitalizing our world class waterfront.”

The Anchor Brewery expansion project also represents the first major tenant of the Mission Rock Project — a new, mixed use urban neighborhood currently being developed by the San Francisco Giants. The Anchor Brewing facility will cover 22% of the overall project site.

“As a longtime partner of the Giants, we are delighted to welcome Anchor Brewing to the waterfront and to partner with them on what will become an exciting place for San Franciscans to live, work and play,” said Larry Baer, Giants President and CEO. “Given the rich history of the Giants and Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, it is only fitting that we work together to help transform this historic part of the City’s waterfront.”

In addition to Anchor Brewing’s new facility, the Mission Rock Project will include more than eight acres of parks and open space, 650-1,500 residential units, 1-1.7 million square feet office space, parking structure to serve ballpark and Mission Rock patrons, and up to 250,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, and public amenities. In total, Mission Rock is expected to create 4,800 construction jobs and 6,400 permanent jobs.

Mission Rock Park will include Seawall Lot 337 (SWL 337) & Pier 48.

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Last April, SocketSite began showing artist drawings of what the proposed site might look like with their post Mission Rock Plans Dusted Off With Giants Swinging For A 2015 Start and last month’s Giants Moving Forward With Massive “Mission Rock” Development.

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Here’s an overview of the 27-acre site, of which approximately 22% will be the Anchor Brewery complex. It will apparently be 212,000 square feet and will ultimately allow total beer production to be increased to an impressive 680,000 barrels annually. “The new Anchor facility will feature production facilities for brewing, distilling, packaging, storing, and shipping; a restaurant, museum and educational facility in the headhouse of Pier 48; and a restored walkway around the entire pier apron that will connect pedestrians to the Portwalk and allow views into the Anchor brewhouse.” As you can see in the drawing below, there will also be a substantial outdoor beer garden.
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The interior of the proposed restaurant portion of the Anchor Brewery project, with the brewhouse visible in the background.

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This afternoon, I had a chance to talk with Anchor co-owner Keith Greggor, who was kind enough to fill me in on some of the other aspects of the project. Here’s what I learned.

Anchor has been talking to the Giants about the Mission Rock project for at least the last year and a half, and the city and Mayor Ed Lee are especially thrilled that a deal could be done. Apparently, it’s a perfect expression of Mayor Lee’s “keep and grow” concept for keeping businesses from leaving San Francisco as they succeed and grow larger. In fact, the mayor apparently suggested Anchor as a tenant, not realizing at the time that it might actually work. The Port is also very happy to have only one tenant, and it has to be a day and night difference having the city, local politicians and the landlord all very supportive and happy to have a brewery there, which is not the situation that often occurs.

Anchor will eventually take over all of Pier 48, but will begin renovating Shed A, and will later take on Shed B, too. The two sheds are essentially different buildings with what they call a “valley” in between. Most of the design work is done, and the first order of business will be to spruce up the building. They expect to move in during the 3rd Quarter of 2014 and be open by the 4th Quarter of 2015.

Perhaps the most amazing news is that they already have a brewhouse for the new location. About twenty years ago, a nearly exact duplicate of Anchor’s current copper brewhouse came on the market in Germany, and Fritz Maytag bought it, hoping to use it when Anchor expanded. But later Maytag decided against moving the brewery and instead had been storing the equipment ever since. The only difference between the two is that the newer one is over twice as big, and is a 270-barrel brewhouse. In addition to brewing at Pier 48, they will also have a working distillery there, but will also continue to make gin and whisky at the Potrero Hill location, too.

The museum portion of the project will include Anchor’s massive brewing book collection and breweriana, including a recent purchase of another collection from a gentlemen who’d been collecting his entire life and recently decided to sell it all. There will also be an educational component, and will be similar to their original concept of having a “Center of Excellence” that the Griffin Group talked about when they first bought Anchor. Greggor had been talking about the Mission Rock project with Fritz Maytag the entire time during the negotiations, and Maytag is reported to be very happy with the new brewery plan.

Still undecided is the restaurant, which will not be a brewpub. They may yet partner with someone to do the food, but since the restaurant will be one of the later parts of the project to be completed, they’re still weighing their options. The current estimate is that the restaurant won’t open until 2017.

Looking at it from all the angles, it really seems like an elegant solution to the thorny problem of how to grow the business without sacrificing what makes Anchor such a great brand. They’ll have a more public space, perfect for tourists, locals and baseball fans, and will be able to make even more Anchor beer right in San Francisco. It will create jobs, help with the economy and should attract more tenants to the Mission Rock development project. What’s not to like?

And finally, below is ABC 7‘s coverage of the news:

Anchor Announces Second Brewery in San Francisco

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The San Francisco Chronicle broke the news tonight that Anchor Brewing Co. will be building a second brewery near the waterfront at Pier 48, in partnership with the San Francisco Giants and their 27-acre Mission Rock development project. The Anchor Brewery space will apparently be 212,000 sq. ft., and will include “production and distribution facilities, a restaurant, museum and other public attractions.” It will also allow them to increase brewing capacity to approximately 600,000 barrels, while keeping all of their brewing operations within the city limits. The new facility is also expected to more than double the number of Anchor employees. Below is Anchor’s artist’s design for the new brewery.

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For now, you can read the story at the Chronicle’s Anchor Brewing plant on S.F. waterfront. I spoke to Anchor Brewery co-owner Keith Greggor this evening and learned that there will be an official announcement tomorrow morning around 10 a.m. where we’ll learn more details, and I also have scheduled an interview with Greggor afterwards to go over the project in more details, so stay tuned.

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And here’s what it should like inside part of the 212,000 sq. ft. building.

Anchor Releases California Lager

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Last night I atended a special release party at Anchor Brewery for their newest Beer, Anchor California Lager. It’s the same beer that was the first in their Zymaster series. According to Anchor co-owner Keith Greggor, the reaction to the beer was overwhelmingly positive, especially from distributors, and that persuaded the brewery to release it as a year-round beer in 12-oz. bottles. The release also coincides with a new partnership between Anchor and the California State Parks Foundation, where a portion of the proceeds from the beer will be donated to the parks foundation, a very worthy cause in my opinion. For now, the beer will only be available in California.

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From the press release:

Today, Anchor Brewing announces that Anchor California Lager®, California’s first genuine lager reborn, is being added to our core lineup of distinctive beers with case sales supporting the California State Parks Foundation. This new release is currently available in California only.

Anchor California Lager was the first beer in our Zymaster® Series, originally released as a limited draught beer in early 2012.

“Our first release of this historical brew was immensely popular with the public and also with our Anchor employees,” said Keith Greggor, CEO of Anchor Brewing Company. “From day one, Anchor California Lager resonated with us not only because of its distinctive flavor, but also because of the rich brewing history that it celebrates.”

Anchor Steam’s® roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable option. In 1876—thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State—a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager is our re-creation of this historic beer.

Made in San Francisco with two-row California barley, Cluster hops (the premier hop in 19th-century California), and our own lager yeast, Anchor California Lager is kräusened and lagered in our cellars. This all-malt brew is a delicious celebration of California’s unique brewing heritage.

The California grizzly bear on our Anchor California Lager label is from a woodcut by Durbin Van Vleck (1833–1898), courtesy of The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley. First published in 1856 in San Francisco, it is a superbly crafted rendering of an original illustration by Charles Christian Nahl (1818–1878), who had painted both eastbound and westbound versions of this bear. Nearly a century later, Nahl’s bear served as inspiration for the design of the bear on California’s modern state flag. Although that bear is heading west, our bear—like the bear on Boca Brewing’s historic lager label—is heading east.

Anchor California Lager (4.9% ABV) is unique. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, its rich golden color, distinctive aroma, lingering creamy head, balanced depth of flavor, and incredibly smooth finish are like no other lager today.

Anchor California Lager is now available year-round in 6-packs, 12-packs, 22-ounce bottles, as well as on draught at select bars, restaurants and retailers throughout California.

Anchor’s history, California’s first genuine lager beer, and our state parks were all born in the second half of the 19th Century. To celebrate California’s unique heritage, we are proud to announce that a portion of the proceeds from Anchor California Lager case sales will support a new partnership with the California State Parks Foundation. As a tribute to our shared history and traditions, we’re forming an Anchor California Lager Grant, to be awarded by the California State Parks Foundation as a part of their Discretionary Grants program to benefit state parks.

California State Parks Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California’s 280 state parks – the largest state parks system in the United States. California State Parks Foundation’s work revolves around the belief that all Californians deserve access to excellent state parks – from beaches to mountain ranges, deserts to redwood forests, and everything in between.

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From last night’s release party:

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And finally, here’s a new video about the beer:

Anchor Zymaster Series #3 Is Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout

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Anchor Brewing announced today the release of the third beer in their Zymaster Series, a stout to be called Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout.

From the press release:

Named after a San Francisco sailing legend from a time when stouts were first exported to the West Coast, Zymaster® No. 3: Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout will be released in selected Anchor markets in January 2013.

Our Zymaster® Series No. 3 (7.4% ABV) is a dry, Irish-style export stout akin to those brewed in the 1800s for the long voyage to San Francisco. Black as night, this high-gravity, malty brew offers intense but well-balanced flavors and aroma, with hints of dark chocolate and roasted coffee.

The arrival of a clipper ship in gold-rush San Francisco brought mail and news of “the States,” would-be miners and entrepreneurs, boots, shovels, pickaxes, butter from New York, cigars from Havana, and stout from as far away as London and Dublin.
The stouts that San Franciscans imbibed in those days were no ordinary ales. They were export stouts—dark, intense, high-gravity brews created especially to survive a long voyage like those around Cape Horn.

It took the average clipper three to four months to sail from New York to San Francisco. But not the Flying Cloud, which, in 1851, made the trip in 89 days and 21 hours anchor to anchor. With the exception of its own 89 day and 8 hour voyage three years later, its record remained unbroken until 1989. Thanks to this clipper’s “extreme” design and the savvy of its captain, Josiah Creesy, and his wife and navigator Eleanor, the Flying Cloud quickly became a San Francisco sailing legend. We celebrate it and a legendary brewing tradition with our Zymaster® No. 3: Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout.

That sounds tasty, I can’t wait to give their new stout a try.

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The beer will be in stores and select bars any minute now. Here’s where it will be available.

Zymaster® Series No. 3: Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout will be available in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, Minnesota, Georgia and Florida.