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 on Monday - Thursday and three every day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The tour runs for 90-minutes and walks through their production facility. At the end, they offer a guided tasting with unlimited pours.
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 walking tour of the facility is over. However, this is where you will start your guided tasting with unlimted pours of beer. The faciilty tour is interesting, but this is my favorite part of the experience!
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 Thursday at 11am and 1:30pm. I like going on the afternoon tour as they seem to let you hang around the tasting room a little longer.
It also runs three times a day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11am, 1:30pm and 4pm.
They do not run tours on holidays.
You must make a reservation and pay in advance to go on the tour. They encourage walk-ins too during the week, but recommend reservations on Friday - Sunday. Since the cost is the same, I recommend making a reservation on the week days too so you can be sure you get a spot.
The tour is $25 per person.
They take reservations about 4 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 $25.
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.
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