Last week, we went to a private tour of the Anchor Steam brewery, in San Francisco, in Potrero Hills. I’ve never visited a brewery before. And yet, this has to be done one day. Especially the Anchor Steam one. It was a magic moment. Clearly one of the best thing to do in San Francisco if you like beer.
And maybe also if you don’t. Because that brewery is not just about beer. It’s a real testimony to perfection, tradition and passion. Of course, you get to taste the product 😉 (many times!), but there’s something much more interesting and fascinating in that building: pride.
Our guide, Tom, has been working at the brewery for more than 15 years. We asked everyone we met that evening, and all of them have been around for more than a decade. All of them are talking about their beer with a unique passion, that I haven’t seen in any company yet. It was just amazing. Their eyes were sparkling, and they were so proud of what they’re contributing to. The average tenure (i don’t have official stats on this one) is probably around 10 years. Just incredible.
We’ve asked about the process of hiring and it’s quite straight forward. We were told that they don’t necessarily look for people with brewery experience but that new employees usually spend one to two years working the bottles… Then you go up the ladder…
They also have a moral rule: you have to be at work for 4 hours before drinking your first beer! The kitchen and the bar at the entrance are the only two places where you can get beer on tab. Those are the only two places where employees are allowed to drink. It wasn’t always like this, and they justify that decision by the danger of manipulating the tools under the influence of alcohol. Of course, once you go downstairs, you have access to the huge barrel with real fresh beer. We even got a taste out of one of them!
So beside a cool job where you can taste beer most of the day, why are those folks so passionate about what they do? well, it’s just because the Anchor Steam brewery do things in a traditional way, using tons of manual work, like it was done decades ago. They’re not into the mass production. They argued that they’re actually quite happy that Sierra Nevada is producing 10 times more beer than them because they couldn’t cope with the demand by keeping their current methods. They want to be unique, they don’t want to be for everybody. In their mind, Anchor Steam is not for every beer drinker. It’s made for the connoisseur with the hands of some very passionate people.
I highly recommend you take 4-5 of your good friends, and try to get a private tour. It’s absolutely remarkable, and beside seeing the process of manually making beer, you’ll find there some amazing people.
Anchor Steam brewery contact details:
Anchor Brewing Company
1705 Mariposa Street
San Francisco, CA 94107