Anchor Brewing Blog

Explore the origins and history of the craft beer movement in America.

Craft Beer History

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Steam Beer Billy – Part II

In this three-part series, Anchor historian Dave Burkhart recounts the true tale of a man, a goat, and their beer—not bock, as one might expect, but steam beer—in nineteenth-century San Francisco.   In Part I of our story, we heard the San Francisco Chronicle’s account of the steam-beer-swilling San Franciscan and his steam-beer-swilling goat. The… read entire article

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Steam Beer Billy – Part I

In this three-part series, Anchor historian Dave Burkhart recounts the true tale of a man, a goat, and their beer—not bock, as one might expect, but steam beer—in nineteenth-century San Francisco. Disclaimer: What follows is a true story, exactly as told in the San Francisco papers 115 years ago. It is literally history. We do… read entire article

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Brews & Barrels: The Story of Barrel-Aged Beer

The craft beer industry has seen a lot of activity in recent years having to do with the resurrection of the use of wooden barrels during the aging process. While today’s brewers are producing many differing styles that employ wood vessels somewhere along the way, the history is a bit simpler. Back in the day,… read entire article

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The Many Voyages of Export Stout

As a seafaring nation, England was at the height of its empire through much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With far-flung colonies, a mighty navy, and one of the the world’s largest merchant fleets, the British were a dominant force in global trade for the better part of two centuries. British merchant ships like… read entire article

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What’s in a Name?
Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout

By Anchor historian Dave Burkhart “And for to make the merry cheere, If smirking Wine be wanting here, There’s that which drowns all care, stout Beere; Which freely drink to your Lord’s health, Then to the plough, (the Common-wealth) Next to your Flailes, your Fanes, your Fatts; Then to the Maids with Wheaten Hats: To… read entire article

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The Barleywine Tradition

Although the term “barleywine” has been around for a lot longer – some historians have traced it back as far as ancient Greece – barleywine as a commercial product was only first labeled as such by the Bass & Co. Brewery in 1903. Stylistically-speaking, barleywine is an ale that is characterized by its full body… read entire article

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Spicing Up the Season with Holiday Brews

Although the hop plant has been known and used for a variety of purposes since ancient times, its use in brewing did not become widespread until the 16th century.  Prior to that time, beers were flavored and balanced by the addition of herbs and spices of all kinds. A blend of herbs, known as “gruit,”… read entire article

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The Last Duel in San Francisco History

Among the most arcane of Bay Area historical landmarks is the site of the Broderick-Terry duel, September 13, 1859. Designated California State Historical Landmark No. 19, two granite shafts mark the spots near Lake Merced (1100 Lake Merced Boulevard, Daly City) where two distinguished pioneer gentlemen stood in defense of their honor. Born in Washington,… read entire article

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“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
Say What? Says Who?

Anchor Brewing historian Dave Burkhart uncovers the truth behind one of the most famous quotes about San Francisco that Mark Twain didn’t say. Mark Twain is what Fred Shapiro, author of the Yale Book of Quotations, calls “the great American quotation magnet.” If it’s clever, witty, or ironic, it simply must have been Twain (AKA… read entire article

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Much Ado About Small Beer

By Anchor Brewing historian Dave Burkhart Although we’ve been making our Old Foghorn® Barleywine-Style Ale since 1975, it wasn’t until 1997 that we tried—or assayed, as Shakespeare would have called it—to make a small beer from the same mash. The tradition of brewing two distinct beers from one mash is an ancient one—as Fritz Maytag… read entire article

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A Return to Maidstone, The Origin of Mark’s Mild

In the dark of night well before dawn, a Volkswagen bus travelled past the hedgerows and hop farms of Kent County, England. Mark Carpenter was behind the wheel on holiday, in September of ’69, two years before he joined Anchor Brewing. He was headed to the city of Maidstone, where unbeknownst to him, a single… read entire article

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Small Beer, Big Flavor

Much maligned in history and literature, small beer actually was a popular drink in medieval Europe. Essentially a low-alcohol brew made for the masses, it was considered a healthy drink in the days of unsanitary water supplies. However, in an age where strong ale was celebrated, small beer was looked down upon as an inferior… read entire article

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A Revolutionary Label for a
Revolutionary Beer

Anchor Brewing historian Dave Burkhart tells the story of Liberty Ale’s first ride. 1975 was a banner year for Fritz Maytag, his brewery, and the history of craft beer in America. In that one year we added three new beers—Liberty Ale, Old Foghorn, and Our Special Ale, AKA Anchor Christmas Ale—to our “lineup” of Anchor… read entire article

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The Tale of Pale Ale

Pale ale has an interesting history that involves invention, foreign trade, geological proximity, empire, and the roots of the industrial revolution in England. Much has been written about the genesis of pale ales, but it is generally agreed that the development of coke as a fuel for the roasting of malt, first recorded in 1642,… read entire article

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Ask Bob Brewer: The Type G Keg Coupler

Over the years, I’ve been asked innumerable times why Anchor Brewing chose to use the “Type G” keg coupler instead of the standard “American Sankey.” In 2017 Anchor finally transitioned to the standard 15.5 gallon “American Sankey” kegs, but up until then, our beer lived in fairly uncommon kegs. It’s an interesting bit of Anchor… read entire article

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American Wheat Beers: Heritage and History

When Anchor Brewing Company first brewed a wheat beer in 1984, it was the first time that a wheat beer had been produced in America since Prohibition. Before Prohibition, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several styles of wheat beer were being produced by the largely immigrant German brewing industry that flourished during… read entire article

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The Ballad of Steam Beer

Anchor historian Dave Burkhart tells the story of balladist Billy Barnes and his paean to San Francisco’s favorite libation. “The old days might not have been better,” penned Herb Caen in One Man’s San Francisco, “but they were certainly different in the nicest possible way.” The intrepid columnist was referring to “a piece of doggerel… read entire article

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St. Nicholas: Patron Saint of Brewers

Anchor historian Dave Burkhart looks beyond the sinners to the saints associated with brewing. Oh, when the saints go mashing in Oh, when the saints go mashing in Lord, how I want to be in that brewhouse When the saints go mashing in! For visitors to Anchor Brewing, the most obvious occupants of its brewhouse… read entire article

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It’s All About Bock

There’s a lot of lore surrounding bock beer. What is it? What’s up with the goat? How did it get its name? Is it really made from the residue at the bottom of the tank? The beer we now know as bock originated in the Northern German city of Einbeck, probably as far back as… read entire article

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Say What? Says Who? Benjamin Franklin on Beer – or Not

Anchor historian Dave Burkhart debunks the most frequently misquoted and misattributed sayings about beer and San Francisco. “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” We at Anchor Brewing have no doubt of the truth of this statement. But of the author? Well, it simply wasn’t Benjamin Franklin. Wishfully but… read entire article

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