The storied Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco, without question the founding linchpin of the craft brewing movement, announced that they would cease sales of all Anchor beers in the US except for in California. They will also discontinue making the iconic Anchor Christmas Ale.
Anchor, which was purchased by Sapporo in 2017 was reportedly down in sales last year by 3%.
The company told industry writer David Infante that “due to its time-intensive and costly brewing and packaging requirements,” they were discontinuing Christmas Ale, as reported by Infante in a twitter post.
The Japanese brewing conglomerate, which also purchased Stone Brewing in San Diego last year was thought to have acquired both nationally distributed brands so they could gain a broader and stronger distribution footprint as well as diversify their portfolio in the US. With 70% of Anchor’s sales in California, the company looks to be re-thinking its broader strategy and looking for ways to gain efficiencies. The question is what value the Anchor brand carries for the global brewer, with limited excess capacity at its sole San Francisco brewery, an expensive location to make beer and a unionized workforce.
Anchor employees unionized in 2019 with ILWU Local 6. At the time, workers said that preserving Anchor’s historic San Francisco legacy was a key reason to unionize. The negotiations for the unions second contract has just ended, but the contract has yet to be ratified by its members.
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