Anchor Steam Bought by Japanese Brewer

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The brewery most identified with San Francisco is now in Japanese hands.  Anchor Brewing Company officially announced today that Sapporo Holdings Limited will be acquiring the company with “plans to continue Anchor’s traditions and legacy in San Francisco while growing the brand globally.”

Sapporo is a global beer distributor founded in 1876 and headquartered in Tokyo, but their purchase of a San Francisco based beer (founded 1896) shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  Large international brewers have been snapping up popular California beer brands like hotcakes in the last couple years, 2015 in particular was huge year for acquisition.  

Popular Petaluma based beer Lagunitas sold 50% of itself to Heineken in 2015, then the rest of it’s controlling shares in May 2017, and now you can drink its IPA in bars in Paris.  Ballast Point, the makers of Sculpin IPA, was famously bought for $1 billion by international spirit distributor Constellation Brands in 2015.  In the same year Firestone Walker Brewing in Paso Robles California sold a big piece of itself to Belgium’s Duvel-Moortgat, and now they have an awesome state of the art brewing facility.  San Diego start-up brewery Saint Archer sold to MillerCoors and now you can get St. Archer at Giants Stadium.   Los Angeles’ Golden Road Brewing is now a part of  Belgium/Brazil owned brewer Anheuser Busch, aka InBev (that’s right, Budweiser hasn’t been owned by Americans since 2008).

What is this all about?  To put it simply, it’s about distribution, and as long as the brewers keep the same standards of excellence that made them taste great in the first place, most of the consequences of these acquisitions and expansions are positive for the consumer.  Why?  Because the west coast brewing style is incredible and innovative, and this is the vehicle that’s going to introduce it to the world.  Since the great beer buy up in 2015, the craft beer economy on a local level has boomed as well.

Anchor said it will continue to brew its beer at its Potrero Hill headquarters and will now open a new taproom across the street from its brewery on De Haro Street.

Masaki Oga, President and Representative Director, Sapporo Holdings LTD had this to say about their acquisition: “Anchor Steam Beer is a San Francisco original, inspiring a new generation of brewers and beer lovers around the world.  Both companies share a brewing philosophy backed by long histories and this transaction enables both Sapporo Group’s US business and Anchor Brewing Company’s global business to make a further leap forward.”

“Sapporo shares our values and appreciates our unique, time-honored approach to brewing,” said Keith Greggor, Anchor Brewing Co-Owner.  “With both a long-term vision and the resources to realize it, Sapporo will keep brewing Anchor’s beers in San Francisco while expanding to new markets worldwide.”


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