Anchor Brewing is one of the smallest and most traditional breweries in the world. The beer and ales are so popular in the states that locals can’t seem to get enough of this brewery. We were literally the only two English people on the legendary Anchor Brewing tour and the only ones who had never heard of Anchor Steam Beer, let alone tasted it.
Or at least that’s what we thought. Turns out that the charming eighteenth century former pub that we live in is connected to Anchor Brewing. Our house retains its old signage: “Praed’s Noted Ale And Stout”. Supposedly there are no records of any other Praed signage at all.
Before we bought the house we did some digging and discovered that “…Campbell Praed & Company started brewing in Wellingborough in 1878. They were successful very quickly, and even as early as 1895 they were making annual profits in excess of £10,000 (a lot of money back then). One of the Praed brothers, Arthur, was one of the founding directors of a company called San Francisco Breweries Ltd. It may be connected to what we know as Anchor Brewery.” Maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling such a heartfelt connection to San Francisco, even before I visited in December. Whatever my story, I’m pretty sure you’ll love this laid-back tour (and the samplers even more so).
Anchor Steam Beer
Anchor Steam Beer was made famous way back. There’s a whole line of hand-brewed drinks from Anchor Brewing for all tastes, with Liberty Ale (first made in April 1975), Christmas specials and more. Each brew has its own unique story about its humbling beginnings. Every year since 1975 they’ve made a distinctive, limited edition ale that’s sold over the Christmas period. It’s a different each and every year, so there’s always a lot of excitement to taste the special batch. Last Christmas was their fortieth Christmas Ale; a dark brown one, supposedly tasting of Medieval England. I guess I can’t verify what that should taste like, but it was delicious. As someone who doesn’t normally like ales, that should tell you just how good these guys are.
And the bearded guys (and the few girls) are probably the biggest reason why Anchor Brewing is so popular. They have so much passion and love for this brewery, and are really proud of its roots. They’ve shunned shiny machinery that would probably make their jobs a lot easier in favour of making their craft with their bare hands. They get to enjoy a little glass of their favourite brew once they’ve worked a chunk of their shift. Just watching them kick back and relax with a glass in their hands and a smile of their face makes you realise how loved it is. After all those hours of hard graft they’re not sick of it and most of them go out after work for more Anchor Steam Beer!
Anchor Brewing Tour
The tour used to be free, but now it costs a few dollars. It’s still as popular than ever though, so you’ll need to book ahead (which you can do via their website). You’ll see how the beer is brewed and find out all their secrets. No, really. You can take photos during most of the tour, but all cameras have to disappear for a bit in the middle. It’s not one of those boring tours that sends you to sleep. It’s casual and fun, but informative.
The best bit is getting to taste five or six of the different brews. From lights to darks, ales to beers, you can try a variety. Hand on heart, they are all delicious – the kind of delicious that makes you want to buy your own box (or send you to into a happy sleep like this guy).
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for Praed’s Noted Ale and Stout to reopen….
Have you been on this tour or tried their beers and ales? Are you a fan of brewery tours?
You can find Anchor Brewing at 1705 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94107.
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