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San Francisco's Anchor Brewery

In an interview, Fritz Maytag talks about his brewery, the beer industry, and steam beer.

Anchor Steam brewery's Fritz Maytag
Photo caption
Maytag: beer's Anchor man


San Francisco's Anchor Brewery was on the verge of bankruptcy when Fritz Maytag bought it in 1965. Within 10 years, he had revived the brew house and was producing handcrafted beers that would inspire a nationwide microbrewing renaissance. Sample any of Anchor's seven types of suds on a free weekday-afternoon tour of the Potrero Hill brewery. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (415) 863-8350 or visiting

Q Did you plan to launch a microbrewing movement?
A No. I just wanted to return to the old traditions of making pure, handmade beer.

Q How has microbrewing changed the beer industry?
A Beer is taken more seriously. It's not just wine that gets paired with food now.

Q How did you get into brewing?
A I visited the brewery—a dusty, funky little place—on a Wednesday and bought it that same week.

Q What is your favorite beer?
A My all-time favorite is Anchor Steam. It's beautifully balanced—nice and hoppy without being too hoppy, and malty without being cloying.

Q What is steam beer?
A "Steam" was a 19th-century California nickname for beer, which at the time was brewed under primitive conditions and without ice. Our methods have changed since then, but Steam is still our trademark beer.

Q Does your beer reflect the city where it's made?
A The fundamental ideas that distinguish Anchor— a return to a simple, natural way of brewing—have their roots in San Francisco.

Q What are you most proud of?
A That we've succeeded in a difficult business where the big guys had the advantages.

Photography by Terrence McCarthy


This article was first published in July 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.