Anchor Brewing Company

The Friday Mash (Merry Pranksters Edition)

Fifty years ago today, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters invited the Hells Angels to Kesey’s California estate. The party introduced psychedelic drugs to biker gangs, and linked the hippie movement to the Hell’s Angels. The Pranksters could have avoided this had they served beer instead.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Englewood, New Jersey, where Agnes Fenton became of the few people on Earth to celebrate a 110th birthday. Her secret? Three cans of Miller per day.

Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields is not only a Pro Bowler, but he’s also an all-Pro homebrewer. Fields, whose wife bought him a kit seven years ago, recently took up all-grain brewing.

Five weeks after a tornado devastated the town, the residents of Portland, Michigan, came together at a beer festival. The logo for one beer, Portland Strong Strawberry Stout, featured a red tornado.

Svalbard, an island in the Norwegian Arctic, is now home to the world’s northernmost brewery. Last year, the island lifted a decades-old ban on brewing.

The Fat Cat Pub in Norwich, England, has named a beer in honor of Cecil the lion, who was killed by an American dentist. Its name, “Cecil’s Revenge,” was chosen by the pub’s customers.

Last Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of Fritz Maytag’s acquiring majority ownership of the Anchor Brewing Company. Tom Rutonno of CNBC recaps this now-famous brewery’s history.

Finally, technology and the growing popularity of craft beer has created new legal issues. Kalamazoo Beer Exchange has filed a trademark infringement suit against the developer of an app for beer collectors. The parties use the same handle on social media.

Anchor Brews Its First IPA

After 43 years of making beer, the Anchor Brewing Company is finally brewing an IPA. That statement might not make sense, but John Holl, writing in All About Beer magazine, sets the record straight: “the golden amber cascade hop-forward ale first introduced in 1975 has won gold medals in the IPA category in beer contests, but the bottle doesn’t say IPA and it’s not always referred to the style when discussed in the brewery.”

Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio, who bought the brewery from Fritz Maytag in 2010, decided to launch Anchor IPA as part of its effort to keep up with the times. The task of brewing the new ale was given to veteran brewmaster Mark Carpenter, who told Holl, “I wanted a beer that I would like to drink.” The beer would not be as heavily hopped as San Diego-style IPAs, and uses non-traditional hop varieties—including an experimental hop that imparts a fresh peach flavor—along with established varieties.

A Video for the All-Star Break

Major League Baseball’s All Star Game will be played Tuesday night. It’s a perfect time to show this video, which was put together by Dave Burkhart, Anchor Brewing Company‘s resdient historian, about the connection between beer and baseball in San Francisco.

Milestones in American Craft Beer History

Many of us plan to celebrate Independence Day with an American craft beer–something that, just a generation ago, barely existed. Tom Acitelli, the author of The Audacity of Hops, identifies four milestones that made America’s craft brewing industry what it is today.

First, there’s Fritz Maytag’s decision in 1965 to buy Anchor Brewing Company, the nation’s last surviving craft brewery, and improve what was then a very bad product. Maytag insisted on high quality and independent ownership, and suffered big financial losses for years before his brewery became a national icon.

Second, in 1966, Jack McAuliffe, a U.S. Navy mechanic stationed in Scotland, bought a home-brewing kit at a local drugstore and discovered he could brew a very good pale ale. His own attempt at commercial brewing, the New Albion Brewing Company, eventually failed–but not before it encouraged other homebrewers to go commercial.

Third, and you might not have known this, Coors Brewing Company tested a new hop variety, the Cascade hop, which was the first American-grown variety considered good enough to use as an aroma hop. Maytag used it in his Liberty Ale, released in 1975 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s famous ride. Liberty Ale led the way to modern India pale ale, the most popular style of American craft beer.

Finally, a 1976 act of Congress lowered the federal excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels of beer. After the tax cut took effect, the number of craft breweries in America grew rapidly. Many of them, including Jim Koch and Pete Slosberg, decided to rent the equipment and subcontract the labor at one of many under-capacity regional breweries being squeezed by industry consolidation.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Anchor to Build Second Brewery in San Francisco

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle reports that Anchor Brewing Company plans to build a second brewery. The new brewery, which is expected to open by the end of 2016, will be part of the San Francisco Giants’ Mission Rock development project south of AT&T Park. It will occupy what is now Pier 48 with production and distribution facilities, a restaurant, museum and other attractions. Once the new facility is operational, Anchor’s capacity will increase from 120,000 to 600,000 barrels a year.

Update. Stan Hieronymus reminds us that in 2010, he wrote a blog post which noted that when Fritz Maytag ran Anchor, he capped production at roughly 100,000 barrels.

A Full Head of Steam

This video by the Anchor Brewing Company explains the mysteries of its trademarked steam beer:

Beer, Then Whiskey

The Boston Beer Company has recently gotten considerable media coverage of its planned acquisition of a distillery in Vermont, which will create two whiskies literally made from Sam Adams beer.

However, beer writer Bryan Yaeger puts the story into perspective, pointing out that a number of craft brewers have branched out into distilling. (On our own Michigan brewery travels, we ran into several establishments that were experimenting with spirits.) Yaeger adds that this trend is older than you might think. In 1993, the Anchor Brewery added a distilling operation, making it a pioneer in that field as well as brewing.

A Virtual Tour of the Anchor Brewery

If you’re a craft beer lover, a tour of the Anchor Brewing Company belongs on your to-do list. But if you don’t have the time or the money to travel to San Francisco this summer, James Martin of Cnet.com can help you out. He’s put together a slideshow of his brewery tour. Unfortunately, the technology for virtual end-of-tour beer sampling has yet to be perfected.

Fritz Maytag Holds Court

Pull up a chair, pour yourself a pint, and listen to Fritz Maytag talk about The Sixties, America’s food revolution, the origins of Liberty Ale, and why “beer guys” stick together:

Hat tip: Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin

The Friday Mash (Westward Expansion Edition)

On this day in 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their historic expedition through the vast Louisiana Purchase. Their journey has nothing to do with beer festivals, except that Ludwig’s come up with the crazy idea of paying for his next pint with Sacagawea dollar coins.

And now…The Mash!

Jay Brooks at the Brookston Beer Bulletin comments on Miller Lite’s new Vortex Bottle (complete with a how-it-works video). He also wonders about ideas that are so silly that even beer marketing people give them the thumbs-down.

Charlie Papazian explains how the Protestant Reformation affected the beer you drink today. Seriously.

Don Russell, a/k/a Joe Sixpack, worries about Anchor Brewing’s future now that Fritz Maytag has sold it. He points out that Pete’s Wicked Ale Brewery failed after Pete Slosberg sold it, and Bert Grant’s brewery disappeared after his death.

Some in the beer community pooh-poohed the idea of craft beer in cans, but more than 70 craft breweries now can their beer, and that total is steadily growing.

Brookston Beer Bulletin’s 40th edition of The Session will be, appropriately enough, a discussion of session beers. The host will be Erik Lars Myers from Top Fermented, and you’re welcome to join in .

May is National Tavern Month, and a couple of articles crossed Ludwig’s desk. Thursday’s Guardian had an article about the best-ever bar fights in movie history. On a more serene note, the editors of Draft magazine describe their favorite watering holes.

Finally, an item from The Mash’s Retro Want Ads Department. London’s Old Spitalfields Market is looking to hire an ale taster.

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