While we were out in San Francisco visiting my sister, she booked a tour of the Anchor Brewing Company for us. The brewery offers two tours a day, one at 10 o’clock and one at 1 o’clock at its Potrero Hill location. Reservations are required. As we had 1 o’clock reservations, we made sure we ate a hearty burrito lunch in the Mission before we walked over for our tour. We arrived about fifteen minutes early. The receptionist checked us off the list and sent us upstairs to the tap room.
Other guests trickled in as we examined the old photos, the placards, posters, piano, and Anchor gear. Before long our tour group grew to twenty. At 1 o’clock Steven, our guide and the assistant tap room manager, started pouring our pre-tour sample of Anchor Steam Beer. It was here that I learned I had been calling the company by the wrong name for over a decade. Anchor Steam is a beer that Anchor Brewing Company produces, not the company’s official name. How about that? Steven ran through the long and storied history of the company while we sipped our steam beer and then it was time to tour the facility.
He walked us through the brewing process, helping us to understand where the key ingredients were added and why. We peeked into the chemistry lab where a periodic table hung on the wall behind scientists examining a sample.
I could spend all day shooting those copper vats. As we moved on we learned about the fermenting process. This fermenting room is sterile and the foamy liquid stews in the bins for up to two days. Looks appetizing, doesn’t it?
After sticking our heads into a room where hops are stored and taking big hoppy lungfuls of air, we headed downstairs to where the beers are casked, bottled (or now, canned), and shipped out. We weren’t allowed to take any photos of this part of the brewing process but I stood two inches from someone quality control testing cans of beer coming off the line. They truly do take you through the thick of things. All in all the tour took a little under an hour. We climbed the stairs back to the tap room and tasted five more samples over the course of the next forty-five minutes to an hour. Steven did not rush us. The scientists came out of their lab and joined us for a couple of pints. We joked around about Toronto sports, chatted about what Anchor brews we could find back home, and what else we had planned for our stay.
If you enjoy beer, this tour is for you. It costs $15 per person and is worth it for the amount of information they share (which I don’t want to spoil here) and the generous samples they pour. Anchor tours book up well in advance so reserve as soon as you know you’re heading to San Francisco. As I noted above, we walked to the brewery. There isn’t any parking onsite, but there is street parking. I’d recommend getting there either by public transportation or under your own steampower. To learn more about Anchor Brewing Company, to schedule a tour, or to follow them on social media, check them out on their website.