Possible Surprise Owner for Closing Anchor Brewing: Its Workers

Unionized staffers are trying to raise funds to save San Francisco beer-maker
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2023 2:05 PM CDT
Updated Jul 25, 2023 12:49 PM CDT
After 127 Years, Anchor Has Brewed Its Last Beer
The San Francisco-based brewer said Wednesday, July 12, 2023, that it gave employees 60 days notice and plans to provide transition support and separation packages.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
UPDATE Jul 25, 2023 12:49 PM CDT

Earlier this month, things looked grim for Anchor Brewing; in fact, Wikipedia was still describing the San Francisco-based brewery in the past tense as of Tuesday morning. Its shutdown may not be permanent, however—at least not if its workers have a say. Quartz reports Anchor's unionized staff is trying to get the money to buy the bankrupt company from Japanese owner Sapporo. "We are working behind the scenes to try and figure out the best possible way," the union posted online. "All we want is a fair shot at being able to continue to do our jobs, make the beer we love, and keep this historic institution open," a union official tells VinePair. Anchor is open to the idea. "Should our employees put forward a bona fide, legally binding offer ... we would gladly consider it," a rep says, per MarketWatch.

Jul 12, 2023 2:05 PM CDT

San Francisco's iconic Anchor Brewing Company survived the 1906 earthquake, but the company says it has now brewed its last beer. Anchor spokesperson Sam Singer says the brewery is shutting down because it was "losing millions of dollars a year" and "economic pressures have made the business no longer sustainable," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Singer says the brewery's 61 employees were told Wednesday that the business is closing. The brewery was bought by Sapporo Holdings in 2017, and the Japanese company's US arm says it is liquidating the business to pay creditors because attempts to sell it have been unsuccessful, reports JustDrinks.

"We recognize the importance and historic significance of Anchor to San Francisco and to the craft brewing industry, but the impacts of the pandemic, inflation, especially in San Francisco, and a highly competitive market left the company with no option but to make this sad decision to cease operations," Singer said in a statement. The company, considered a pioneer among American craft brewers, plans to keep its Anchor Public Taps taproom in San Francisco open temporarily while there is remaining inventory, including some 2023 Anchor Christmas Ale that was brewed before the company decided last month that it would cancel the traditional nationwide release, the AP reports.

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The brewery has been on the verge of closure before, and Singer said it's possible that a new buyer could emerge during the liquidation process. The Chronicle notes that after Sapporo bought Anchor, it lost its official "craft" designation—and the new owners brought in changes including a new logo and "dozens of trendy and experimental styles" of beer. Sapporo bought another US brewery, San Diego's Stone Brewing, last year, but the acquisition isn't connected to the Anchor closure, Singer said. (More beer stories.)

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