Sunday, October 3, 2010

Anchor Brewing Company Tour

Early August, I did a bit of a road trip visiting friends and stopping at some locations where liquid chillindamos is made.  Amongst numerous wineries in the Russian River areas, a visit was also made to Moylan's Brewing, Russian River Brewing, and Anchor Brewing.  I love Anchor Steam.  Its been on my top 10 since I had it for the first time in the late 90's.  I really enjoy brewing the beer style, California Common, and think my interpretation holds very well in a side-by-side.  Needless to say, I was really excited to see this historic brewery.
A tour at Anchor Brewing is free but you'll need to schedule an appointment in advance.  Its fairly easy to call them and find out their availability.  I made reservation about a month out for a Tuesday morning in August. They seemed to be booked solid during the summer so plan accordingly.
Anchor Brewing houses their entire operation in this building.  Turns out that Fritz Maytag (former owner and brewmaster) had his last official day at the brewery the Friday before I was here.  Darn, it would have been great to get a picture with this brewing hero.  Our guide told us that the new owners and management arrive the following day to ensure the continuation of the Anchor tradition.
Their brewing room and tasting area are the only allowable locations to take photos but there are lots of videos out there, including ones on the Anchor Brewing website, that show what takes place beyond these images.  Their brewing system is classic and elegant.  The office space in the back houses their laboratory equipment.  I took notes on a handful of details such as the temps in their open fermentation room and the varieties spotted in the hop room.  Turns out that videos describe those details too!
The tour doesn't take long and our guide didn't flourish on any details of their quintessential California Common flagship, Anchor Steam.  I asked for lagering temps and times and even the guide wasn't aware of the details.   Last, they bring the group back to the above tasting area for some generous samples of their entire flight.

Anchor Brewing Company: A conversation with craft beer pioneer Fritz Maytag


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