San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing, once left for dead, purchased by Chobani founder

San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing, once left for dead, purchased by Chobani founder

San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Co., which shut down last summer after 127 years in business, is being resurrected.

Chobani CEO and founder Hamdi Ulukaya purchased the brand and all its property Friday for an undisclosed amount and promises to restore it to its former glory.

The Turkish billionaire said in a video message announcing the move he first heard of Anchor last year when news broke it was closing, and he decided to visit San Francisco to check it out.

Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani LLC, speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York Sept. 20, 2022.  (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“It wasn’t until I came across this article that said the oldest craft beer in America is closing its doors, and, out of curiosity, came to visit and realized that it might be old, it might be given up on but it is the grand jewel,” Ulukaya said.

The brewery with roots dating to the California Gold Rush announced in July it had no choice but to close, citing a “combination of challenging economic factors and declining sales since 2016.”

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Anchor said at the time it had tried unsuccessfully for a year to find a buyer and that it hoped one might still come forward during the liquidation process.

Anchor Brewing Co building in San Francisco

The exterior of Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco Jan. 29, 2018.  (Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The shuttering of the iconic brewery was another blow to San Francisco as the California city has seen an exodus of major businesses since pandemic shutdowns and amid recent crime spikes. Ulukaya says he plans to preserve the brand, honor Anchor’s history and heritage and keep the company in its Potrero Hill neighborhood.

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Anchor was founded in 1896 and has long marketed itself as America’s first craft brewery. It was purchased by Japanese brewery Sapporo Holdings Ltd. in 2017 and has since undergone significant changes.

In 2019, Anchor employees voted to unionize, which the company said on its website made it the “pioneer of the craft beer union movement.”

anchor steam

Bottles of Anchor Steam Aug. 3, 2017, in San Rafael, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

In 2021, Anchor Brewing underwent a major rebrand, changing the look of its products. According to JustDrinks, sales continued to tumble despite the updated look, falling 10% the next year. When Anchor shut down, Sapporo said it would focus growth efforts in the U.S. on expanding its own brand and through Stone Brewing Co.

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Ulukaya said in his video that he met with former Anchor employees and told them he would “like to be part of bringing this company Anchor beer, this dream back to life,” and that they “couldn’t be more excited.”

“And I couldn’t be more honored,” he added. “It’s the essence of San Francisco. It’s the essence of this country that we can always bring it back stronger, better than ever before. I think the best time of San Francisco is yet to come.”

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