New York CNN
Anchor Brewing, America's oldest brewer, is closing its doors after 127 successful years.
A press release stated that the San Francisco-based firm announced it was ceasing its operations and liquidating their beloved business. 'Following a combination challenging economic factors and decreasing sales since 2016', a statement said. Craft brewers have struggled for many reasons, including changing consumer behavior, rising costs, and lingering challenges in the supply chain.
Sapporo is another problem. The Japanese beer company bought the brand Sapporo in 2017. VinePair received complaints from employees last month regarding Sapporo’s alleged mismanagement, and a lack of understanding about craft beer in the US. Anchor's 2021 rebrand was also criticized as straying too far from its classic look.
Sam Singer, Anchor Brewing's spokesperson, said that the decision was made after months of careful consideration. He said that the "impacts of pandemic, particularly in San Francisco, inflation and a highly-competitive market left the company no choice but to cease operations."
Anchor's 61 employees received a 60-day legal notice on Wednesday. They will also receive "transition support packages and separation packages." The brewing has stopped and the beer will be available until July 31.
Anchor announced last month that it would be ending the production of its Christmas Ale, which has been a fan favorite for nearly 50 years. A'small quantity' of Anchor's Christmas Ale will be sold in its tap rooms until it is gone.
Anchor stated that these decisions were taken to'reduce cost while final attempts were being made to evaluate all potential outcomes', however, in the end 'expenses simply continued to exceed revenues, leaving the business with no viable alternative'
Anchor stated that Sapporo had made'repeated attempts' to sell the company over the past year. Anchor said that these efforts failed. However, Anchor also stated that it is 'possible' that a buyer would step up for the brewery during the liquidation process.
Anchor was founded in San Francisco in 1896, and became the first craft brewery in America. Fritz Maytag, who is a descendant of the Maytag Corporation and bought Anchor in 1965, when it was nearing bankruptcy, helped to launch the craft beer industry. Steam Beer was its most famous brew, a pale ales.
According to the Brewers Association, Anchor's beer production has declined each year under Sapporo ownership (except for 2021). Brewbound reported previously that Sapporo’s recent acquisition of craft brewery Stone Brewing caused Anchor’s employees to be concerned about how their brewery would fit into Sapporo’s plans.
Sapporo did not respond to an inquiry for comment.
Craft breweries' state has not improved in the past year. Craft Business Daily received NIQ data showing the category sales were down almost 4% and the volume was down over 7% year-to-date. This shows that the category has had a difficult start in 2023.
Harry Schuhmacher told CNN that this is a sad moment in the history American craft brewing. I know Fritz is devastated. 'He literally nurtured this brewery from its insolvency in 1960 to become San Francisco's home beer and symbol of America's craft resurgence.