The bankruptcy and closure of SF’s own Anchor Brewing Company is now in the inevitable auctioning-off-its-parts phase, with the brewery, its equipment, and its intellectual property all being sold separately, but some local beer preservationists are in the hunt.
With the holiday season set to begin, it’s a sad footnote that there will be no Anchor Christmas Ale this year. But it’s an exponentially sadder matter that the SF-born Anchor Brewing Company closed and declared bankruptcy this summer, sending many tears into many beers. Whatever future the Anchor Brewing Company may or may not have is now in the hands of an Assignments for the Benefit of Creditors (ABC), a third-party trust that is handling the sale of Anchor’s remaining assets.
Potential new owners are placing their bids on Anchor Brewing Company’s real estate, brand and brewing equipment. https://t.co/mOkuEYrzR5— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) November 22, 2023
And the Chronicle reports today that the bidding is underway for Anchor Brewing’s assets. The assets are being offered in three separate categories: the Potrero Hill property that’s the home of the company’s brewery, the equipment inside the brewery, and the intellectual property and beer recipes for anyone who may want to continue the Anchor Brewing brand.
The auction is being handled by a firm called Hilco Corporate Finance, and the screenshot above is from their pamphlet marketing the assets. There are no prices listed, though a Chronicle report from last month noted that the asking price for the brewery property is $40 million.
But what beer drinkers probably care about most is whether Anchor beer will be resurrected. That’s the intellectual property component, and there are at least two interested local buyers, both of whom spoke up last week.
Anchor Brewing survived 127 years, and now it’s up to the public to keep them running. Visit https://t.co/JmtdSSAAIb to invest, and help the workers reach their first $250K milestone. #SaveAnchorBrewing #AnchoredInSF— Anchor Union (@anchorunionSF) November 15, 2023
Legal disclosures: https://t.co/6wqFJXIYQS pic.twitter.com/IsMQ9EAnLp
As we noted shortly after the closure was announced, a group of laid-off Anchor employees have a campaign to buy the brand back and make the company a co-op. They launched a wildly successful GoFundMe campaign that’s raised well over $100,000. But now they’re on to a more ambitious investment campaign that hopes to raise a quarter of a million dollars, which they would then aim to use to get equity from institutional lenders.
Those unionized former employees are not trying to buy the physical Potrero Hill property, but instead just the intellectual property (IP). Anchor SF Cooperative chairperson Patrick Machel told industry publication Vinepair this week that “We’re guessing [$2.5 million] is the lowest number the IP is going to be sold for.”
The Chronicle's report adds the Anchor SF Cooperative would not be looking to buy the brewing equipment, but would likely buy other equipment for a smaller brewing operation.
Meanwhile, there are also some local investor types who’ve also expressed interest. The most serious of these may be seed investor Mike Walsh, who wants not just the IP, but the whole kit and caboodle.
“Our objective is to purchase the entire brewery and continue brewing at its current location,” Walsh said in an update last week, after submitting his bid. "Unlike some developers, our focus isn't on property development but on preserving Anchor's rich history and making it a prime destination. This might include adding onsite restaurants and entertainment facilities while maintaining the brewery's iconic status.”
Whatever happens, Anchor Brewing fans, the Broke-Ass Stuart update seen above mentions there will be a big Anchor Steam Beer Bust at Buzzworks (365 11th Street) on Saturday, December 9th from 12-8 p.m. According to Broke-Ass Stuart, the “The last kegs of Anchor Steam Beer, Anchor Crisp Pilsner, Anchor Tropical Hazy IPA, Anchor San Pancho Mexican Style Lager, Anchor West Coast IPA, Anchor California Lager will be on draft, and there will be bottles and cans too.” Plus, that report adds that “they will be raffling off Anchor Christmas Ale Magnums from the last 10 years.”
Image: SAN RAFAEL, CA - AUGUST 03: Bottles of Anchor Steam beer are displayed on August 3, 2017 in San Rafael, California. San Francisco based Anchor Brewing announced plans to sell to Japan's Sapporo Holdings Ltd for an undisclosed amount. Anchor Steam has brewed in San Francisco for 121 years. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)