The Anchor Brewing Company first opened its doors in San Francisco in 1896. It's the first and oldest American craft brewery.
It was started when Ernst F. Baruth and his son in law Otto Schinkel, Jr. bought a small brewery from a German brewer by the name of Gottlieb Brekle. After they purchased the brewery on Pacific Avenue in SF, they renamed it Anchor.
Ownership has changed hands several times over the years. Today, they continue to brew their beer using a combination of traditional methods and state-of-the-art technology. They are one of only a handful of breweries to still produce Steam Beer (also called California Common Beer).
Every day, Anchor Brewing Company opens their doors to visitors. They offer two tours each day which include a 45-minute walk through their production facility and a chance to sample three to four of their top beers.
When you first arrive, you will need to sign in at the front desk. You will then be taken to the tasting room, where you will wait until the start of the tour. Sometimes they offer you a beer before the tour starts.
The tasting room here is absolutely gorgeous. It's a fun place to see some of their old signs, as well as, a line up of all of their Christmas Ales.
Your tour will start with a brief intro about the company in the tasting room. You will then step inside the first room, which is their traditional copper brew house. It's fascinating to get a close up look at these huge copper brewing machines.
During your time in this room, you will learn more about how they produce and brew the beer. You will also see several people at work here and you will learn a lot about what it takes to make their tasty brews.
From here, you walk through the facilities that house the ingredients they use to make the beers. You will walk through several rooms and find out more about each item that goes into their flavorful beers.
At this point, you will head down the stairs into the production facility. This is where they bottle and label the beers. For safety reasons, you are required to put all cameras, phones, etc. away. Pictures are not allowed on this part of the tour.
You will spend about 10 minutes in this part of the facility. It's interesting to see the coordinated efforts of everyone and every machine on the line. Everything is running in unison and so fast that you could watch it for hours and not get bored.
After you take a look at the production facility, you head back upstairs. You will learn a little more about the company and its history as you make your way back to the tasting room.
In the tasting room, the official tour is over. This is where you get the chance to taste some of their best brews. They typically let you try around three different beers. They aren't stingy with their pours as each person gets a full glass of each type of beer.
This is also a great time to ask any questions about the tour or their beers. You will also get the chance to spend more time checking out the collection of their Christmas Ales, which they started brewing in 1975. Each year, they create a different label, so it's fun to see the entire collection lined up above the bar.
The entire tour is around 1.5 hours. This includes around 45 minutes walking around the facility and about 45 minutes in the tasting room at the end.
The tour runs twice a day, Monday through Friday at 10am and 1pm. I like going on the afternoon tour as they seem to let you hang around the tasting room a little longer.
It also runs twice a day on Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 2pm.
They do not run tours on holidays.
You must make a reservation and pay in advance to go on the tour. They do not accept walk-ins.
This tour used to be free, but due to demand and the need for additional staffing, the tour is now $15 per person. I like this better as it's easier to get a spot on the tour.
They take reservations up to 6 months in advance and you can book your spots (and pay) online. Click here to reserve your spot(s).
The tour is all inclusive, so even if you don't plan to drink and are over 21, the cost is still $15.
Anchor Brewing Company does allow kids to participate in the tour. Since they will not be drinking the beers at the end, they are not charged a fee for the tour. However, you are welcome to bring them along.
The Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco is located in the Potrero Hill District. This is just to the north of downtown and is easy to find. The address is 1705 Mariposa St. The tour is in the building on the corner of Mariposa and De Haro. The entrance for the tour is on De Haro Street in the building pictured below.
You can either take the bus, a taxi, or drive to the tour. The buses that stop nearby are the 10, 19, and 22.
It would be about a $20 cab ride from downtown SF. You can also use Uber, which would save you some money on the trip.
Columbarium: The Columbarium is the final resting place for hundreds of San Francisco residents. The building was originally built in 1895 using baroque and neoclassical elements. It's lovely both inside and out. You are welcome to walk around and admire all of the memorials on the main floor. You will need an appointment to visit those on the upper floors. Click here to learn more.
Diego Rivera Frescos: You will find three frescos from the controversial artist Diego Rivera in San Francisco. All three are open to the public during certain times each week or month. Click here to find out more about this artist and where you will find his works in SF.
Hua Zang Si Buddhist Temple: Step inside a working Buddhist Temple in SF's Mission District. This temple is a converted Lutheran Church and is open to visitors almost every day of the week. Stop by to see several large religious statues, as well as, to learn more about the religion.
More Hidden Gems: Find a list of my 25 favorite hidden gems. In addition to the three listed above, it also includes details on visiting the colorful Mission Murals, where to find the Octagon House, and tips to find several mosaic stairs around SF. Click here for the full list.
Find SF Murals