Anchor is America’s first and oldest craft brewery, with roots dating back to the California gold rush. Today, our beers are handmade from an all-malt mash in our traditional copper brewhouse. Our process combines the time-honored art of classical craft brewing with carefully applied, state-of-the-art modern methods.
Every drop of Anchor beer is made right here in our traditional copper brewhouse. Decades-old handmade tools of the trade — mash tun, lauter tun, grant, and brewkettle — are literally at the heart of our historic American brewery, surrounded by our offices, quality-control lab, and taproom. It is a constant reminder of the brewcraft at the core of who we are.
Anchor uses no rice, corn, or adjuncts--only the best natural ingredients, including pale, caramel, dark, and wheat malts used to varying degrees according to the unique recipe for each of our beers. At the beginning of our traditional brewing process, mashing consists of adding the malt to warm water and cooking it according to our formulas to continue the process of starch-to-sugar conversion that was begun at the malthouse.
Fresh, whole-cone — not processed, no pellets, no extracts — hops are added at several stages of the brewing process according to each craft beer's recipe. Visiting farms and participating in harvests has long been part of ensuring the distinctive qualities and freshness of these ingredients, such as Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest or Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, or Citra hops from Yakima, Washington.
Anchor Brewing was the first American craft brewery in modern times to employ the ancient technique of “dry-hopping”. Much like making sun tea, dry-hopping is a steeping process of adding bagged, dry hops to some of our ales during the maturation stage of the brewing process to infuse them with rich fragrance and aroma.
The fermentation of Anchor Steam® Beer takes place in our shallow, very wide, open fermenting pans, cooled entirely by filtered San Francisco air moving through the fermentation room. These fermenters are an important part of our unique brewing history and represent a marked difference from the vertical tanks found in other breweries in America. Except for the occasional hot day, we still simply use the naturally cool air from San Francisco's foggy coastal climate.
All of our beers and ales are carbonated by the natural carbon dioxide that develops during a gradual conditioning process. For Anchor Steam, we use an ancient practice known among craft brewers as “kräusening”. For our ales, we use a process called “bunging,” creating lighter, more champagne-like bubbles than the artificially injected gases used in mass production.
In the 1960s, Anchor was perhaps the most primitive small craft brewery in the world, but by 1971—the year we began bottling Anchor Steam® beer—we had perhaps the most modern small brewery in the world, with state-of-the-art quality control systems in place to ensure that our beers are always pure and fresh, from brewing, through finishing, packaging and transporting. We know of no brewery in the world that matches our efforts to combine traditional, natural brewing with such carefully applied, modern methods.