Bruce Joseph had a secret. He and a couple of pals working at Anchor Brewing during the early '90s were distilling spirits.
Of course, this was all under the direction of Fritz Maytag, the company's then-owner and heir to the Maytag fortune, who saved the brewery from closure in 1965 when he bought a controlling share of the company shortly after his Stanford graduation.
Fritz was himself known to tinker with a distilling pot, and every so often, he, Joseph, and others would call for a meeting of the "Water Committee" to taste what they'd made — a code-name they said was just the title for a group testing the acidity and quality of the water used in their beer.
By 1994, however, the jig was up, and Anchor was marketing its spirits: first, Old Potrero Whiskey, an amber spirit that's spicy and just slightly smoky. Then came others like Junípero Gin, a clean, citrus-forward take on a London dry gin. Of course, Anchor being a brewery, the team eventually got to playing with hop-infused spirits, like Anchor's Hophead Vodka, even distilling down a version of their famous Christmas Ale, aptly called Christmas spirit. These days, Joseph is Head Distiller of Anchor's own distilling arm, Anchor Distilling.
While many are familiar with Anchor as a craft brewery and have taken its rite-of-passage brewery tour at the company's recognizable Potrero Hill facility, fewer are familiar with these craft spirits. So — you see where this is going — aiming to change that is a new tasting tour from Anchor Distilling that launches on the 21st.
The Distillery tasting room now sits above the brewery/distillery in a space that Maytag once used as his own apartment for late nights on the job. The view can't be beat — you can see down to the ballpark — and herbs and citrus for cocktails grow in the sun on the rooftop garden.
Tasting room tours, which are $35, last an hour, taking drinkers through the backbone of the distilling process and the highlights of Anchor Distilling's line. And between generous pours and the view, you'll leave a little bit woozier, and hopefully a bit wiser, than you came in.
Anchor Distilling Company - 1705 Mariposa Street, tours $35, one hour, Thursday and Friday at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
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