Out of sight: Anchor Steam Brewery

Anchor Steam Brewery

1705 Mariposa St.

415.863.8350

Hard to find factor : 2

1 Not too bad

2 Takes some searching

3 Ask a native

4 Bring a map

Neighborhood: Potrero Hill

On the downlow since: 1896

Beer Bust: If you look at the label pasted on a bottle of Anchor Steam, it unabashedly and rather obviously states, “Made in San Francisco Since 1896.” Yet, do you know how many people we came across throughout our grueling research who shot us the most surprised, even shocked, expressions when we casually mentioned our jaunt to the Anchor Steam brewery. “Anchor steam is made in San Francisco?” It sure the heck is. And hot damn if the brews don’t taste even better when poured directly from the incredibly neighborhood-esque bar that greets visitors upon arrival. We tried the seasonal Christmas brew, a darker, stout ale that raised our holiday spirits to helium levels and watched with interest as workers clad in pristine white jumpsuits took turns pouring our beers and keeping an eye on the hoses, valves and various other gadgets out on the brewery’s main floor, which is open to the public. After we quenched our thirst, we followed our suited-up hosts for a quick tour.

The Willy Wonka of Beer: Frederick Louis Maytag III, better known as Fritz Maytag, has been the owner of the venerable distillery since 1965, when he caught word the microbrewery was on the verge of closing for a few thousand dollars. He then hauled the whole operation over to its current location in Potrero Hill in 1979. His office is right there in plain view, across the way from that bar we previously mentioned. The odds were definitely not in Maytag’s favor when he decided to buy the whole operation. Microbrews these days are as hot as tamales, but that was hardly the case back in the day when Budweiser, Busch and the likes had a tighter grip on the beer market than you have on that bottleneck. Anchor Steam is considered to be the seminal company to catapult microbrews into the global limelight. Now Maytag’s little beer that could is distributed in 48 states. (And as an aside, if you’re wondering if this is the same dude behind Maytag Bleu Cheese — yes, it is.)

Team Steam: You probably easily concluded the ol’ “anchor” reference in Anchor Steam must correlate to San Francisco’s colored naval history, — ya know, the old Hunters Point Shipyard, or, say, that huge gleaming Bay. Water, water, everywhere for sure. But what’s up with the steam? Well, Mr. and Mrs. Enquiring Mind, the steam part of this equation relates to the fact that Anchor Steam is the last of American brews to produce what are known as “common beers,” those brews known as “steam beer,” bubbly beer made by brewing lager yeasts at ale fermentation temperatures.

Know any hidden gems? E-mail us at outofsight@examiner.com and tell us your favorite off-the-beaten-path haunts.Bay Area NewsLocal

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