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Anchor Brewery Sold

Today around lunchtime, I heard the rumor from two separate sources that Anchor Brewery had been sold and started working the phones, calling everyone I knew, to no avail. But apparently at least two beer publications received the following press release, which is below. In addition, see below for some updates and thoughts. Also see a second update below.

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 Brewers & Distillers intends to establish a “Center of Excellence” in San Francisco for craft brewers and artisan distillers from around the world. An epicenter of development, education, entertainment and innovation, all designed to further contribute to the culture and heritage of craft beer and artisan spirits.

“San Francisco is the perfect place to establish this center,” stated Tony Foglio, “Through our extensive portfolio of craft beers and fine spirits our focus will be to educate and satisfy the increasing consumer demand for authentic, quality and natural products that reflect the passion of their creators.”

Continuing the Anchor heritage, Mr. Maytag has been named Chairman Emeritus of Anchor Brewers & Distillers.

The Griffin Group operates as both boutique merchant and investment bank for premiere craft beers and artisan spirits. In addition to the Anchor Beers, The Griffin Group will assume control of the spirits brands including Old Potrero Whiskey, Junipero Gin and Genevieve Gin through the acquisition of Anchor Brewing Company. Additional affiliated companies to be held under Anchor Brewers & Distillers include Preiss Imports, a leading US specialist spirits and beer importer, and BrewDog USA, LLC, the US division of the leading UK craft beer.

The Griffin Group is headquartered in Novato, Marin County, California.

UPDATES & THOUGHTS: Since the news came out, several odd bits have emerged, which leaves me wondering about all this. First of all, the news itself, the press release. They appear to be from just two sources, Beer Advocate and DRAFT magazine. Inc. magazine has slightly more, including the information that the two principals of the Griffin Group made their money with Skyy Vodka.

Now, some thoughts. This may sound like sour grapes — it’s not — but it seems odd that such big news would be disseminated by two national beer sources and not through local beer sources or local mainstream news outlets. This is especially odd given that the company is in the very town I live in, yet I learned of it from sources outside California. Every other beer journalist I’ve spoken to or corresponded with never got a press release and neither, apparently, did any mainstream newspapers or other media. Why would the news be released that way? I don’t know. In speaking with other beer industry insiders, everybody was caught off guard by the news, and no one I know has been able to reach anyone at Anchor for comment. I was only able to get through to one person I know there, and he couldn’t say anything. I left messages for several others and have not heard back from anyone. I’m not sure what that means, but it does seem odd, almost like we’re being punk’d. But the longer there’s nothing to contradict the news, the more likely it becomes.

That no one has been able to reach anyone from the Griffin Group is likewise somewhat strange. With such big news, you’d think someone would be available and not so hard to reach. I hope I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem like the best way to ingratiate oneself with the beer community. People are already speculating the worst, as often happens, and it would be great to get additional information one way or the other. Not sure what all of this means, but it’s the talk of the town, and people are getting concerned about the lack of information from either side.

UPDATE 4.27: I have now received confirmation of the deal from John Dannerbeck, CEO of Anchor Brewery. Dannerbeck writes. “Fritz Maytag has entered an agreement to sell the Anchor Brewing Company. This will be an exciting time for us as we begin the process of transitioning to the next generation of owners.” I’ve sent back some additional questions that are likely on all of our minds and will update this once I know more.

I had lunch today with Keith Gregger, one of the principals at the Griffin Group. It’s been a busy afternoon and I”ll have more from our talk shortly.

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