Taking a Tour of Anchor Brewing Company

posted in: Beer, Tours, USA | 37

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing Company

The more interested I get in craft beer, the more fascinated I get with the brewing process which is why I’ve started trying to find more brewery tours to do in cities I visit. While researching for San Francisco I came across Anchor Brewing Company and knew I had to get a place on one of their brewery tours while I was in town.
Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing Company
Anchor Brewing Company is America’s first and oldest craft brewery. What I love about them is they combine the time-honoured art of crafting beer with state of the art modern methods. Every drop of Anchor beer is made in traditional copper brewhouse.


We did end up being a few minutes late for the tour. Not because we didn’t arrive on time but because we went to the public tap thinking that’s where the tour started. When in fact, it actually starts in the building across the road. Thankfully we noticed quickly and didn’t miss any of the tour.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing Company
The tour takes place in this building

The building looks a little like an office building from the outside. You head in and there will be a reception area. Here you will be giving a wrist band and sent upstairs to the tasting area. This part isn’t open to the public unless you are on one of the tours which is why you get given a wrist band. It does mean that you can leave any bags in the tasting room when you go around on the tour and they’ll be perfectly safe.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyThe tour begins in the tasting room where you’ll get an introduction to the fascinating history of Anchor Brewing Company. I found this part really interesting and it made me more eager to take a tour around the brewery and see the copper brewhouse in action.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyWhat I really liked about this tour is that we got to try a couple of the beers while they were talking about the history. We started out with the popular steam beer. I had already had this beer a couple of times during the trip, I imagine most who do this tour have, but it’s always good to start a beer tasting with the classics. This particular beer they have been brewing since 1896!

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyNext up we tried the second most popular of the Anchor Brewing Company beers; the California Lager. This lager is a lot more modern than the steam beer as it was first brewed in 2012.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyAfter learning about Anchor Brewing Company’s history it was time to learn about how they make their beers. What I loved about this tour was the fact you could get up close and really see the  machines working.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyFirst we walked around the copper brewhouse where the ‘mashing’ takes place. This is how you activate the enzymes and convert the grain starches into fermentable sugars. I’m not sure I entirely understood what they were talking about but I was fascinated watching the machines work.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyNext we went to see what I would call the most important stage of the beer making process; the fermentation. Why do I class this as the most important? Simply because this is where the beer becomes an alcoholic beverage. Fermentation of Steam beer takes place in shallow, very wide, open fermenting pans. Again, I don’t completely understand the science behind this but this is where the yeast will covert the glucose into alcohol.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyNext on the tour we were taken downstairs to where the beers get bottled. Sadly this wasn’t running the day we did the tour so we didn’t get to see the conveyor belt running in all its glory.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyOnce we were done with the tour it was time for the beer tasting. We had already tried the two most popular beers at the start of the tour so now it was time to try some of the other beers Anchor Brewing Company have.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyFirst up we tried the Los Gigantes, a limited edition collaboration brew with the San Francisco Giants. I’ve never known a brewery to team up with a sports team to create a unique beer so this was exciting to try. This is an easy drinking beer that was inspired by the vibrancy and diversity of the city and the Giants’ fan base.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanyAfter this beer they decided to change things up. As we were a small group they gave us the option of picking which beers we wanted to try next out of the selection they had. This was pretty cool of them! I decided to try the coffee porter, just because it sounded so weird! Actually, it was really nice and I would happily have it again. I also couldn’t resist checking out their christmas ale. The christmas ale recipe is changed slightly every year and the 2017 christmas ale was the 43rd annual release. What I really liked about the christmas ale is they also change the label every. In the tasting room there was a cabinet with all the bottle designs in it.

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing CompanySadly the tour does have to come to an end but if you want to enjoy more Anchor Brewing Company beers then why not head across the road to the public taps. Sadly we had the Vantigo tour to get to otherwise we would have definitely gone there afterwards. There’s also a food truck there which could be a good way to soak up some of that beer you just had!

Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing Company

Key Information

  • Tours around Anchor Brewing Company are available all year
  • Reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance
  • Price of the tour is $25
  • Tours last 1.5 hours
  • Children are welcome but must be 21 to try beer
  • Tours can be booked online
  • All the Anchor Brewing Company beers are vegan friendly

*All information correct as of January 2018


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Any beer lover visiting San Francisco will want to take a beer tour around Anchor Brewing Company

Please note that while we were guests of Anchor Brewing Company, the reviews and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. We value our readers too much to lie to you. Our blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!

37 Responses

  1. “There is no strong beer. Only weak men.” Love it.

    I am a huge lover of beer, and thank you ever so kindly for walking me through the process. It is great when you are travelling and find something that you explore in every city! (For me it is graffiti).

    If you ever find yourself in Yangon, Myanmar, you might want to check out the new brewery here: craft beer is only just starting to emerge here and it’s great.

  2. I would love to do this beer – tasting tour with my husband. In fact, he’s the one that likes beer the most. The brewing process can be really interesting but it’s so cool you got to try so many types of beer while listening to the history! We only did some wine tastings, the best one we had was in Peru where we tried Pisco, but this sounds definitely like a great tour!

  3. ooh I love a good craft beer. This tour sound great — especially the fact that you can drink while learning about the history. I hate having to wait until the end!!

  4. I’ve had Anchor Brewing before, but had no idea it was the oldest craft brewery! I’ll have to stop by here next time I’m in SF.

  5. I love porters and my husband loves IPAs (and pretty much all beer), so there is usually something for both of us on brewery tours! The Anchor porter and the Christmas ale both sound fantastic- we’ll have to try them the next time we’re out in San Francisco!

  6. That is a great saying about the strength of the beer but I must be a weak woman as it goes straight to my head. it doesn’t stop me trying of course. Looks like a great selection to attempt.

  7. Does the copper help remove sulfur from the beer? I imagine it’s the same chemical process as whiskey but have never really thought about it. Also, how ironic it is it that San Francisco if famous for two yeast activities – craft beer and sourdough bread.

  8. Though I’m not really a big fan of beer, I’d love to visit this place just to be walked through the manufacturing process, which I find fascinating. And I’d have to at least give the Los Gigantes a taste, even if just to see that awesome can design.

  9. I enjoy brewing tours too, and did one in Copenhagen recently and loved it 🙂

    I love how your tour started with a tasting session, while most others that I’ve done end with it. I guess this will allow even more appreciation for the brewing process later on. Btw you’ve done a beautiful compilation through your lovely pictures and I will suggest my friends in SF to try it out too 🙂

  10. This sounds like a fantastic beer tour! I have never actually been on a beer tour but I would love to go on one. Your pictures are all wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

  11. I’ve done plenty of wine tours but haven’t managed a beer tour – this looks like a good one. I love that sign about weak men, brilliant. Great that you can take kids on the tour with you, that’s why I haven’t been on one so far!

  12. The art of beer brewing is becoming really big – and funny enough it’s coming to Europe from the US, so that we now also have a couple of small artisan breweries; besides all the old traditional ones, of course. I imagine it must be quite hilarious tasting all this beer while listening to the guides…
    The key information you are sharing are really helpful – I wondered about the legal age.

  13. This sounds like a fun tour, tasting and seeing how it is made. You tasted a lot and the coffee bear and the Christmas beer sound interesting. Seems like a good value tour.

  14. I spent the holidays in Germany where there were so many brewery tours. After reading this post, I regret not having participated in one of them, because I thought that they were only about tasting not making the beer :/ I am not a fan of beer but I really like observing how things are being made. I’ll try it next time!

  15. I am not a beer drinker but my husband is and we visited the Heineken factory in Amsterdam when we were there. I did enjoy the tour learning how beer is made, rather, ‘brewed’ and why some beers are more strong than the others. It’s fun to watch all those big machines making beer isn’t it 😀

  16. I love a good craft beer so I’d love to take a tour of the Anchor Brewery! $25 is super reasonable for such an extensive tour, and it’s great to hear that the beers are vegan friendly.

  17. For quite a long time I wasn’t very interested in these things until I started taking winery tours out of curiosity and I go to enjoying it quite a lot! I have yet to visit my first brewery, and I hadn’t thought that San Francisco was a destination for this. I love the “no strong beer, only weak men” sign, and it’s really cool to be able to get so close to all the machines and see the whole process and the history of the place. Definitely a nice way to see beyond the obvious attractions of the city.

  18. You can’t go wrong with a brewery tour in my opinion. I haven’t visited San Fransico but when we do, Anchor Brewing Company will have to be a stop on the trip. Thanks for sharing and cheers!

  19. I love crawft beer! What a great idea for a trip, and the price is quite reasonable.

  20. Sounds like a cool tour. I still have a soft spot for Anchor Steam and their Christmas beer. Last brewery tour I had was not as interesting as you had.

  21. Two tasting sessions! This my kind of Brewery tour 🙂 LIke you I don’t understand half the jargon but love the end product. So it does not matter. Looks like Anchor has put ‘frisco on the beer map of the world.

  22. I love visiting Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries every time I travel. But this one is more interesting as they will really show you around you can even see the beer brewing! I need to put this place on my list.

  23. It is something we have never done before but it looks like the kind of experience we have to do! Discovering the behind the scenes is interesting because you can learn more about what we eat or drink lol

  24. I am always fascinated by the brewing companies of America. They all seem to have such a rich heritage and history and treasure so many intriguing stories too. Dating back to 1896 the Brewing Company is surely classic and vintage.But it is great to note that they have incorporated modern and contemporary elements while still retaining their heritage. Definitely, the brewery makes for some heady times.

  25. I adore going on beer tours. I had no idea this was in San Francisco! I was just there and I would have loved to have gone. I really like trying different beers from various places (I’ve got the Untapped app – gotta add all of the beer I try! haha). I’ll keep this in mind for the next time I’m in San Francisco!

  26. I hate to tell Anchor this but it is not the oldest or first craft brewery in the United States. Yuengling (Pottsville, PA) has them beat by 70 years. Craft brewing has been around since the early settlers arrived and started brewing. The tour does look like a fun way to learn how they brew their beer.

  27. Followingtherivera

    This is so interesting to know it’s America’s oldest brewing company! How did you guys feel at the end of the tour?! It’s good to know the beers are vegan friendly, that makes it open to everyone 🙂

  28. You must come to San Diego, we have over 100 breweries. 🙂 Love that sign about weak men. LOL. Porters and stouts are my favorite. I’ll have to try their Porter and see how it compares to some of San Diego’s brews.

  29. I love visiting breweries and tasting the beer there. This place seems so awesome and a great place to visit. How long does this tour last?

  30. While I might not be a beer person, tours like these interest me for it is quite intersting to see how they go about making these things. Plus the fact that I am a microbio graduate, the whole brewing process is what I find intriguing. Kind of seeing live text book stuff

  31. Aren’t trips like these so much fun and interesting? I loved the one I went to in Nashik, India. Very similar to what these guys do here.

  32. I don’t know much about beer but my husband always takes me for that kind of tour whenever he see the opportunity while were travelling! The one you just did seems fun! Great photos!

  33. We have done a lot more brewery tours this past year and actually enjoyed them a lot. We find it interesting to see how many beers are made in one single plant. I think it is really cool that you were able to see first hand how the beer is made and be able to see inside most of the machinery.

  34. Seems like a fun tour. I’ve done a few brewery tours from my time living in Colorado and they are always an enjoyable way to spend a day. Although as a Rockies fan I don’t think I could support drinking a San Francisco Giants beer. Haha. I always find that the historical part of the tour is the most interesting as well, and I would assume the (second) oldest craft brewery in America has a lot of history to it (im pretty sure Jennifer Melroy is correct).

  35. That’s a whole lot of craft beer! Too bad we are alcohol-intolerant; we can’t even last one bottle. But the place is interesting. Seeing how something is made—in this case, beer—is always something interesting for us.

  36. I’m glad you didn’t miss your tour! The SF bay area has a lot of great micro breweries. One of my favorites is the Marin Brewing Company just north of San Francisco. They have a great beer selection – fruit flavored, ambers, porters, stouts, seasonals, etc. They don’t offer tours but it’s brewed on site (and you can smell the hops as you walk in the door). Next time you’re in SF, take the ferry to Larkspur and stop in for a pint!

  37. Sounds like a really cool experience! I’ve never been on a beer tour, but have heard that San Francisco is great for them. I definitely plan on visiting San Fran sooner than later, so I might have to squeeze a beer tour into my plans.

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