Anchor's Aweigh

The Chobani founder saves San Francisco's iconic beer
Anchor Brewing has been bought by billionaire behind Chobani
Anchor Brewing Co. of San Francisco, which closed last year, will be revived after being purchased by a billionaire.

Anchor Brewing is saved:

The billionaire behind the Chobani yogurt brand has acquired Anchor Brewing Co. with plans to modernize and reopen the historic San Francisco brand that closed last year after 127 years in operation.

On Friday, Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani founder and CEO, announced that his family office had bought all of Anchor’s assets: the iconic steam beer recipes, the 2.1-acre Potrero Hill campus and all the brewing equipment in the De Haro Street warehouses. The price was not disclosed.

It's about as uplifting a story as you can possibly imagine – especially given how dire the situation was when Anchor shut down last year. Ulukaya is saying all the right things:

“Let’s get back to work. Let’s bring it back to life. I don’t want to sit around,” he said, wearing an Anchor Brewing ballcap. “Wouldn’t it be amazing to get it going in time to make the Christmas ale this year? That would be awesome.”

Yes, that would be awesome. Also awesome, he says he's going to try to hire back "as many of the former workers as possible." That's especially great and important because many of them, of course, were trying to put together a bid to buy the company themselves, but lost out to Ulukaya's bid. But it sounds like they're also quite happy with this outcome – beyond buying, simply running a brewery is hard. Especially in the 2020s, just as Sapporo, the beverage conglomerate which couldn't make it work despite acquiring the iconic brewery in 2017. Gotta love Ulukaya's attitude about this though:

“It’s a competitive landscape — a lot of beers out there, ” he said. “But who cares? From the other perspective you have the people behind it, the history, the recipe, the name and the tradition aligned with this magical San Francisco. There is no value you can put into that.”

His track record speaks for itself with Chobani, of course, which he built from nothing as an immigrant to the US twenty years ago. Last year, he also bought La Colombe, a great coffee company on the east coast of the US.

While he has never brewed beer before, his expertise in yogurt-making could come in handy.

“I know about fermentation,” he said. “I don’t do fermentation with yeast. I do it with live and active cultures. But I know fermentation. It’s nature’s magic.”

Amazingly, Ulukaya seemingly only even knew about the sale because he read about it in Forbes – journalism FTW! – I now promise to make fun of the publication for their atrocious ad load and reading experience 20% less in 2024 to celebrate.

“I think everything is operational, but we don’t know,” he said. “It’s like a movie — they pressed stop and left. You see boxes on the conveyors. You see bottles on the fillers. You see tickets written halfway. It’s like time stopped. And literally we are going to go and press start and move those conveyors and start it back up.”

His statement and interviews are all just as much a love letter to San Francisco as much as Anchor Steam. Something the city could also use right now.