San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Set for Revival by Yogurt Billionaire

Anchor Brewing Co., America’s oldest craft brewery, closed its doors last summer after more than 127 years in business. Now, the beloved San Francisco brand is set for a revival, thanks to an unexpected buyer.

Hamdi Ulukaya, the billionaire founder and CEO of yogurt maker Chobani, announced that he has purchased Anchor Brewing with plans to revive its taprooms and iconic brews.

Despite only visiting San Francisco a few times, Ulukaya was captivated by Anchor Brewing’s deep connection to the city and its rich history. Anchor Brewing closed in July 2023, and its former parent company, Sapporo USA, put it up for sale after years of declining sales.

Ulukaya expressed his admiration for both the city and the brewery, stating that both “are experiencing the magic of rebirth.” He emphasized the importance of preserving Anchor’s legacy, writing, “Brands born in places like this deserve to be treasured, respected, and loved.”

Ulukaya also praised Anchor’s devoted employees, who he said have worked tirelessly to make it one of the most beloved beer brands in San Francisco and around the world. “I will honor Anchor’s history, and I offer my commitment to its future,” he added.

The remnants of Anchor Brewing had been embroiled in a months-long auction process, with Sapporo offering its real estate and intellectual property separately. However, Ulukaya decided to purchase everything together to keep the company intact.

While specific plans for the relaunch have not been released, Ulukaya said that he intends to bring back Anchor’s old labeling. In 2021, Sapporo had unveiled a new look for the beer cans and bottles in an attempt to revive sales, but this move ended up angering many of the brand’s hardcore fans.

Despite Ulukaya’s enthusiasm, the craft beer industry faces challenges as drinkers increasingly shift to spirits and cheaper alternatives. Anchor Brewing had struggled before its closure, losing national distribution and finding it harder to compete.

Bryan Roth, an analyst for Feel Goods Company and editor of the alcohol beverage newsletter Sightlines+, suggested that Anchor should focus on its San Francisco and California roots, emphasizing regional sales and reopening the popular taproom in the Potrero Hill neighborhood. This strategy could help the brewery form new emotional connections with drinkers.

“The brand struggled because it kept relevance with longtime, committed craft beer enthusiasts, but rarely registered with young people or casual drinkers,” Roth said. “Focusing on Anchor’s legacy, stature, and part of American craft beer history could help the brewery form new emotional connections with drinkers.”

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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