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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Visit to Anchor Brewing in San Francisco

For anyone with a love of American craft beer the Anchor Brewing Co. in the Potrero Hill section of San Francisco is hallowed ground. The day that Fritz Maytag acquired the failing brewery in 1965 the craft brewing revolution was dawning.

Maytag moved the brewery in 1979 to its current location in a former Chase & Sanborn Coffee roasting plant. Andrew Cox gave me a tour of the facility where I got the chance to see Anchor Steam being brewed and walk through the entire process. One of the things about a visit to any brewery large or small is the sensory overload that takes place between the aromas, temperature changes from one area to another and the noise level in areas such as the bottling line.

During the visit we ran into Bruce Joseph in Anchor's distillery and got to talk about turning out micro distilled whiskey, gin, brandy and grappa.

I had the chance to try two of the newest products from Anchor during my visit. Joseph gave me a taste of Anchor Genevieve, a 94.6 proof old school gin that has a distinct grain note at the start, plenty of citrus along the way and then a long spruce and juniper berry finish.

I also had the chance to sample the 2007 version of Anchor's Our Christmas Ale. The 33rd edition of the brew is due to be released on Nov. 5 by Anchor. It is a rich dark color and a festive flavor experience. I found notes of cinnamon, vanilla and perhaps a flavor that I can only call root beer-like. No, its not sweet, but it does have a hint of sweetness. A great holiday treat, likely best served eithyer before or after a meal.

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