On July 27, 2023, the final bottles of steam beer rolled off the packaging line at the Potrero Hill brewery where Anchor Brewing Co. has operated since 1979. The last case was packaged on Thursday morning sometime before noon local time, according to Instagram posts from brewery employees. Just like that, a century and a half-long San Francisco brewing tradition came to an end.
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In June, VinePair contributing editor Dave Infante broke the news that the brewery would cease national distribution, instead pulling back to service only California markets, and discontinue its popular Christmas ale. Only weeks later, Infante again broke news on VinePair that Sapporo USA (SUSA) would cease all operations and liquidating the beloved brewery.
Earlier this month, the company had scheduled to brew over 600 barrels of Anchor Steam over the course of August. By July 19, this number was reduced to just 400. Now, the number is zero — and it’ll stay that way for the foreseeable future, as Anchor’s uncertain future is hashed out.
In a July 12 release confirming Anchor’s imminent closure, representatives for the brewery stated it would be liquidated via an assignment for the benefit of creditors. One week later, VinePair reported brewery employees’ plans to bid on the company and “run it as a worker co-op.” In a July 19 memo to SUSA, workers requested that the beverage company be transparent and give them a fair shot at acquiring the brewery. On July 20, they were informed that Sapporo would consider an offer, as long as it was provided with a legitimate source of funding.
According to an Anchor Union news release, employees were told that SUSA would provide them with financial information regarding the state of the business as soon as they were contacted by a representative on the group’s behalf. The following day on July 21, a workers’ representative contacted Sapporo.
But on the evening of July 27, a business agent for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union who is assisting the interested Anchor employees with their bid, Pedro de Sá, issued a press release alleging that SUSA had denied the group’s request to the information, claiming that it was too close to the date that the company is expected to hand over control of the brewery’s assets. The agent, Pedro de Sá, claims that “other prospective buyers have already been given access to this financial information” — in effect, unfairly hindering the employees’ effort to make a competitive bid.
Shortly after this story published, a representative for SUSA and Anchor, who had initially not responded to VinePair’s request for comment on de Sá’s claims, said the company “is being fair in its treatment of all parties interested in purchasing its assets.” Per the representatives, the union and other interested parties will be able to gain access to financial information once a liquidator is in place and after signing a non-disclosure agreement. The representative, Sam Singer, did not directly rebut de Sá’s claim that the firm had already provided that info to any potential buyers.”
Anchor’s assets are set to be turned over to a liquidator at the beginning of August. Yet, Anchor employees request that Sapporo USA delays doing so until Sep. 2, to give them more time to present their bid. “Provide the financial information necessary to present a fair offer,” the release states. “Now is Sapporo’s chance to show they intend to do right by their workers and by San Francisco.”
Additional reporting by VinePair contributing editor and columnist Dave Infante.