It’s a little known fact that Anchor Steam® Beer is America’s First Craft Beer dating back to a fateful moment in 1965 that changed the course of American brewing history. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go back over 100 years to our San Francisco roots.
During the California Gold Rush, local Argonauts craved genuine lager beers after a hard day’s work. Lager beers required cool conditions to be successfully brewed which created quite a challenge for brewers given the general lack of ice in the City by the Bay. Under these primitive conditions and with the desire to meet the demands of thirsty San Franciscans, brewers were forced to improvise and to innovate new techniques. Born of necessity, Anchor Steam® Beer was crafted in the late 1870s, a lager beer brewed at warmer ale temperatures, a uniquely American beer.
Over the next 100 years, Anchor Brewery has a wonderfully storied history (which you can read about here)…
…but, let’s fast forward to San Francisco 1965.
During a meal at the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco, a young Stanford graduate named Fritz Maytag, of the Maytag appliance family, learned that the makers of his favorite beer, Anchor Steam® Beer, were soon to close their doors forever. On August 2, 1965, Maytag rushed to buy 51% of the struggling San Francisco brewery for just a few thousand dollars, rescuing Anchor from imminent bankruptcy. At only 27 years old, Maytag, alongside a team of dedicated brewers, revived the struggling Anchor Brewing Co. at a time when mass-produced beer completely dominated the American brewing landscape.
Fritz ignited a revolution in beer, inspired other small-scale breweries to do the same, ultimately leading the way for the American Craft Brewing Revolution, which all began with a fateful purchase over 50 years ago.
The story of Anchor Brewing Company and Anchor Steam® is the story of craft beer itself. Built and rebuilt from the ground up, Anchor Brewing was born and bred an original. We gave birth to a beer born of simple necessity, a one and only brew that would ignite a revolution. We put passion into practice every day, defying convention and guarding the traditions of brewing. We make our Steam Beer the Anchor Way – Radically Traditional.
Curious? Explore our site full of curated photography from the archives of Anchor and San Francisco. Drink Steam.