How Old Do YOU Think American Craft Brewing Is?

Whatever it is, unless you’re a rabid American beer historian or a Facebook friend of Anchor Brewing, you’re probably wrong.

Believe it or not — and subject to different appraisals of what craft beer might be – it began 47 years ago today. Because, as I learned from Anchor today, it was on this exact date in 1965 that Fritz Maytag acquired 51% of the ownership of the Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco.

Fritz went on, of course, to buy the remaining 49% of the brewery in 1969, and proceeded from there to establish Anchor as one of the iconic brands of American beer. (That he had the audacity to launch Old Foghorn and what went on to become Liberty Ale in 1975 still amazes me.) So if you find yourself near an Anchor Steam Beer today, raise your glass to Fritz Maytag, a man of vision and the father of the modern American craft beer.

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4 Comments

Filed under beer industry, beer style, brewing legends, drinking quality

4 responses to “How Old Do YOU Think American Craft Brewing Is?

  1. Gary Gillman

    I think you can argue the contrary case, in that Anchor’s existence as a brewery goes back to the 1800′s. Any business over time undergoes changes in its ownership structure. True, Maytag partly reinvented the brewery. But his base always was in steam beer, in an operation which stretched back again to the Victorian era.

    Other long-established breweries also made beers which influenced greatly modern craft brewing, especially Ballantine IPA and Rainier Ale, which preceded Liberty Ale, Foghorn and Anchor Porter. The better porters from old PA breweries – some of them were and are pretty small, too – played a role, too.

    Maybe Maytag is more a hybrid figure, a bridge certainly to the craft revolution (amongst others).

    I am looking forward to the recreation of New Albion Ale, to be released I understand early next year by Sam Adams. That beer was the first true modern craft ale, IMO.

    Gary

  2. I am with Gillman in that
    - Maytag was the bridge between existing and renaissance brewing.
    - Jack McAuliffe’s New Albion Brewing Co., 1976, seems to hold the distinction of being the first true modern craft ale

    Next in line seems to be Boulder Beer Co.
    - founded as Boulder Brewing Company
    - possessor of Dallas regional ATF Brewer’s Notice; Serial No: 1;
    Submitted: 01 Feb 1979; Effective: 25 Sept 1979

  3. I am, while reserving the right to mull it over again and again, in agreement with this:

    “Maytag was the bridge between existing and renaissance brewing.Jack McAuliffe’s New Albion Brewing Co., 1976, seems to hold the distinction of being the first true modern craft ale.”

    There is nobody in the history of the craft world I admire more that Fritz, but I believe that is the truest understanding of its earliest days.

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