‘Anchor Brewing Was San Francisco’

Patrick Redford, writing for Defector:

It is tempting to read this as another grim story about the pandemic claiming a beloved business, given an extra bit of apocalyptic flair by the degree to which Anchor is synonymous with San Francisco. In that light, the death of one of the city’s most iconic companies goes hand in hand with the narrative that San Francisco is a dying city riven by the tripartite scourges of unchecked crime, spiraling unaffordability, and, uh, wokeness. Even if you don’t want to go that far, you can correlate San Francisco’s high office space vacancy rates, declining national craft beer sales, and “inflation,” and conclude that this economy was too harsh for Anchor to survive in. Indeed, how can any small business keep its lights on under such conditions? That is the story Sapporo’s PR goons are selling and the San Francisco Chronicle is buying, without any pushback or worker perspective, even though it’s not true. Economic conditions matter, though they aren’t nearly as relevant to the Anchor story as Sapporo’s uniquely catastrophic stewardship of the company.

A fine remembrance, replete with great links to further reading, including this excerpt from David Burkhart’s book, published just last year, The Anchor Brewing Story.

What comes to mind is that small-scale excellence is delicate and precious. It seems unfathomable that Anchor could be losing money when their beer remains as popular as ever, but leave it to a large conglomerate like Sapporo to tank a good small thing in the name of making it a bigger thing.

Thursday, 13 July 2023