She survived the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Prohibition, and both world wars. But recent economic pressures are proving too much for the nation’s oldest brewery: After 127 years, Anchor Brewing Company is closing its doors.
The effects of the pandemic, inflation and a highly competitive market left it “with no choice but to make this sad decision to cease operations,” the company, which was founded in 1896, said in a statement on Wednesday. The company said the employees were given 60 days’ notice and promised severance packages. Anchor added that although it has stopped brewing, it will continue to bottle and distribute the beer while it becomes available. She added that it would be sold on draft while stock remained.
Beer sales have been declining since 2016, and in 2017, the company It was received about $85 million by Japanese beer giant Sapporo.
“The share of Anchor’s heart has been the epidemic,” company spokesman Sam Singer said by phone Wednesday, noting that 70 percent of its products were sold in restaurants and bars. In 2021, Anchor Brewing has tried to adapt, Rebranding and bottling and canning more beer to sell in grocery stores. But, he added, these changes “cannot make up for a significant loss in sales.” In a last-ditch effort to stay afloat, Anchor limited its beer sales to California, and discontinued one of its products, Christmas beer.
But expenses continued to exceed revenues. “The bottom line is, Anchor ran out of money, ran out of time,” said Singer.
Beloved by many Americans and often credited with catalyzing the resurgence of craft beer in the 1960s, Anchor is the latest brewery to succumb to the pressures of a fiercely competitive market. In recent years, there have been a number of smaller breweries It is absorbed by the big companies. Others have reformulated their distribution models, or closed.
Regional breweries like Anchor large enough to sell beer nationally but small enough to be considered a craft brewery are most at risk. They face competition from local microbreweries and larger breweries like Coors or Miller, said Jarrett Hart, an agricultural and economics researcher at the University of California, Davis, whose research has focused on craft beer. “They’ve faced profit losses year after year, and they’ve generally lost market share,” he said.
After Sapporo acquired Anchor, The workers spoke over what they described as inadequate pay and unfair working conditions, and voted to unionize in 2019.
Joan Marino, executive director of the Bay Area Brewers Guild, said Wednesday that given the crippling economic realities, it was no surprise that Anchor closed its doors. But she said the news is still heartbreaking.
“When a microbrewery is bought by a large multinational conglomerate, the calculus changes a little bit for its existence,” said Ms. Marino. “It’s not a surprise, but it’s a shock and it’s a very sad day here.”
Anchor Brewing said that despite repeated efforts to find buyers for its brewery and brands, none have come to fruition. Mr. Singer said the brewery has gone through many crises in its history, and he hoped there was still a chance for recovery if a buyer steps forward during the liquidation process.
“The flag of San Francisco is a phoenix rising from the ashes, and Anchor has had many phoenix moments in its history,” said Singer. “But that is out of our hands now,” he added. “We can only hope for the best.”