USA, CA: Anchor Brewing Co. shuts down after 127 years citing faltering sales

San Francisco’s historic Anchor Brewing Co. will shut down and is no longer making beer, the company announced, signaling the end of a 127-year run for the California institution that weathered wars, Prohibition and the great earthquake of 1906, the Los Angeles Times reported on July 12.

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The brewery was losing around $10 million per year since COVID-19 “significantly affected” its business, according to parent company Sapporo Holdings Ltd.

“This was an extremely difficult decision that we reached only after many months of careful evaluation,” said Sam Singer, a spokesperson for Anchor Brewing. “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 us with no option but to make this sad decision to cease operations.”

Though production has stopped, the brewery will continue to distribute its remaining stock and operate its on-site taproom through the end of the month.

Anchor Brewing will begin the process of assignment for the benefit of creditors, which is a common move for distressed businesses as an alternative to official bankruptcy proceedings.

The brewery was founded in 1896, when Ernst Baruth and Otto Schinkel Jr. bought a beer-and-billiards hall on Pacific Street in San Francisco and dubbed it Anchor. The original location burned down in the blazes that followed the 1906 earthquake.

The brewery is most famous for its Gold Rush-era steam-style beer, Anchor Steam.

The news of its closure comes just a month after Anchor decided to stop distributing nationwide to focus on California, which already made up 70% of its sales.

Singer said the decision to stop nationwide sales and cease production of the company’s popular Christmas Ale were last-ditch efforts taken as Anchor hoped to find alternatives to closing.

Anchor Brewing was bought for around $85 million by Japanese beer giant Sapporo in 2017. Employees at Anchor unionized in 2019 following the sale; the union was in the process of negotiating its second contract when the shutdown was announced.

“Over the past several years, we implemented a variety of measures to improve the business, such as releasing new products, product renewals, and making brand investments,” Sapporo President Masaki Oga wrote in a release announcing the decision. “However, Anchor’s business performance continued to be sluggish.”

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