One of the most popular range of beers at glug… Anchor Brewing is America’s first and oldest craft brewery.
Anchor’s roots date back to the early 1850s and the California gold rush, when pioneer brewer Gottlieb Brekle arrived in San Francisco from Germany.
In 1871, he purchased an old beer-and-billiards saloon near Russian Hill and transformed it into the little craft brewery that—twenty-five years later—would be renamed Anchor.
Today, Anchor’s beers are still handmade in San Francisco from an all-malt mash in their traditional copper brewhouse.
Anchor’s process combines the time-honoured art of classical craft brewing with carefully applied, state-of-the-art modern methods.
Every drop of Anchor beer is made right in their traditional copper brewhouse.
Decades-old handmade tools of the trade — mash tun, lauter tun, grant, and brewkettle — are literally at the heart of this historic American brewery, surrounded by its offices, quality-control lab and taproom (which we had the chance to visit in 2014).
What we sell at mmm… (when available and in season)
Anchor IPA (6.5% ABV) – the California Gold Rush lured thousands west to “see the elephant,” a 19th-century metaphor for the hopeful, but risky pursuit of happiness, adventure, and fortune.
As early as 1849, India Pale Ale – prepared by British brewers for export to India by adding dry hops to barrels of hoppy ale – was also heading west, from England around the Horn to San Francisco.
Thirsty ‘49ers savoured the best imported IPAs, but it wasn’t until 1975 that Anchor pioneered the revival of dry-hopped handmade ales.
Anchor IPA is made with two-row barley malt and fresh whole-cone hops, its bright amber color, distinctively complex aroma, spiky bitterness, malty depth, and clean finish unite to create a uniquely flavourful, memorable, and timeless craft IPA.
Anchor Steam Beer (4.9% ABV) – this beer owes its deep amber colour, thick, creamy head, and rich, distinctive flavor to a historic brewing process like none other.
Anchor Steam Beer derives its unusual name from the 19th century when “steam” was a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice.
While the origin of the name remains shrouded in mystery, it likely relates to the original practice of fermenting the beer on San Francisco’s rooftops in a cool climate.
In lieu of ice, the foggy night air naturally cooled the fermenting beer, creating steam off the warm open pans.
Once a nickname for any Californian or West Coast beer brewed under these conditions, today the name “steam” is a trademark of Anchor Brewing and applies only to the singular process and taste of their flagship brand.
Anchor California Lager (4.9%) – Anchor Steam’s roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable California option.
In 1876, thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State, a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager.
California Lager is Anchor’s recreation of this historic American beer.
Made in San Francisco with two-row California barley, Cluster hops (the premier hop in 19th-century California), and our Anchor’s own lager yeast, this all-malt brew is kräusened and lagered in its cellars.
Its golden color, distinctive aroma, creamy head, balanced depth of flavour, and smooth finish make Anchor California Lager a delicious celebration of California’s unique craft brewing heritage.
Anchor Liberty Ale (5.9% ABV) – the champagne-like bubbles, distinctive hop bouquet, and balanced character of Liberty Ale revives centuries-old ale brewing traditions that are now more relevant than ever.
First introduced in 1975, Liberty Ale is brewed strictly according to traditional craft brewing methods, and uses only natural ingredients — pale malted barley, fresh whole-cone Cascade hops and a special top-fermenting yeast, and water.
The yeast used during fermentation produces many of Liberty Ale’s subtle flavours and characteristics.
A natural process called “bunging” creates gentle carbonation, and the practice of dry hopping (adding fresh hops to the brew during aging), revived by Anchor, creates its unique aroma.
Liberty Ale was first brewed to celebrate the bicentennial of Paul Revere’s historic ride.
As the first modern American IPA brewed after prohibition and the first modern American single-hop ale and dry-hopped ale, Liberty Ale is the original craft brewed ale and the historic beer that started a revolution.
Anchor Porter (5.6%) – with deep black colour, a thick, creamy head, rich chocolate, toffee and coffee flavors, and full-bodied smoothness, Anchor Porter is the epitome of a handcrafted dark beer.
A blend of specially roasted pale, caramel, chocolate, and black malts, along with our top-fermenting yeast, creates complexity without bitterness.
The brew is hopped at a high rate, and naturally carbonated. The result is dark in the glass, but surprisingly light on the palate.
Anchor Porter became the first modern American porter style beer when it was introduced in 1972.
Anchor Old Foghorn Ale (8 – 10% ABV) – the malty sweetness, fruitiness, unique hop aroma and high original gravity of Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale is to beer much as port is to wine.
Old Foghorn Ale is brewed based on historic English barleywine methods.
It is highly hopped, fermented with a true top-fermenting ale yeast, carbonated by a natural process called “bunging” to produce champagne-like bubbles, and dry-hopped with additional Cascade hops while it ages in Anchor’s cellars.
Made only from “first wort,” the rich first runnings of an all-malt mash, three mashes are required to produce just one barleywine brew.
Introduced in 1975, Old Foghorn Ale was the first modern American barleywine sparking renewed interest domestically and in Britain.
The name was derived from the English tradition of attaching the word “old” to barleywines to denote their tradition, intensive brewing process and cellar aging, and “Foghorn” gave it a San Francisco flair.
Today, Old Foghorn Ale is best enjoyed sipped after a meal.
Anchor Brekle’s Brown (6% ABV) – inspired by the best all-malt brown ales in Anchor’s brewing archives, Brekle’s Brown has a coppery brown colour and unusual depth of flavour with hints of citrus which makes for richness and complexity without heaviness.
This classic, all-malt, single-hop American brown ale starts with a special blend of roasted malts.
For brewing and dry hopping, a single and distinctive new American hop variety called Citra creates nuanced flavors and aromas complementing Brekle’s Brown’s unique maltiness.
Brekle’s Brown is a celebration of Anchor’s 140-year legacy of brewing some of the best craft beer in America.
Anchor Saison Spring Ale (7.2%) – Saisons originated with the rustic farmhouse ales of Wallonia, a mostly French-speaking region of Belgium.
Bière de saison was brewed during the saison froide (cold season) for consumption during the warmer months.
Today saisons are made and enjoyed year-round.
Anchor Saison Spring Ale is a traditional Belgian-style saison with a California twist.
The distinctiveness of roasted Belgian wheat malt is enhanced by the peppery, clove-like flavours of a locally cultured saison-style yeast.
For the latest release, Anchor chose three California ingredients—lemongrass, lemon peel, and ginger—whose synergy adds a tangy crispness and herbal spiciness to this sharply refreshing, uniquely Californian saison.
Anchor Summer Beer (4.5% ABV) – the crisp, clean flavours are refreshingly light, a thirst-quenching American-style filtered wheat beer.
Released each year in advance of the summer season, Anchor Summer Beer is an all-malt craft beer, with over 50% of its malt derived from malted wheat.
It is fermented with a traditional top-fermenting “ale” yeast, yielding a clean, balanced flavor that highlights the refreshingly light flavour of malted wheat.
The head is unusually abundant due to the natural protein deposits of wheat, with a thick consistency similar to meringue.
First brewed in the summer of 1984, Anchor Summer Beer was the first American wheat beer in modern times.
Anchor BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red (6% ABV) – was inspired by a native California tree, its incredible leaves, its delicious syrup, and the best colours of fall.
BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red is a quaffable, well-balanced American red ale with character.
Its malty complexity and coppery colour come from a combination of two caramel malts, pale malt, and a hint of maple syrup.
To complement these flavours, Anchor used three additions of Nelson Sauvin hops in the brewkettle and a unique blend of Nelson Sauvin, Citra, and Cascade for dry hopping.
The result is a distinctive fall seasonal beer with extraordinary depth and intriguing aroma.
Anchor Christmas Ale (% ABV varies) – 2014 was the fortieth annual Christmas Ale from the Anchor brewers.
It is sold only from early November to mid–January.
The Ale’s secret recipe is different every year, as is the tree on the label, but the intent with which Anchor offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life.
Anchor’s tree for 2014 was the Giant Sequoia.
They chose the Giant Sequoia for the fortieth Christmas Ale in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Act.
Signed into law by President Lincoln during the Civil War, it granted the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California “for public use, resort, and recreation.”
The first such land grant in American history, it marked the beginning of the California State Parks.
- See all forty Christmas Ale labels on Anchor’s website
- Find out more about the Christmas Ale on Anchor’s website.
Want to know more?
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Thanks to Anchor Brewing. for the information and images on this page.
Please note: as we deal with small suppliers, many of which make our orders from scratch or depend on seasonal ingredients, it is always best to check with us in advance if there is a specific product you want.