Sapporo acquires Anchor Brewing bringing the San Francisco beer to new global markets

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Anchor Steam beer will continue to be produced at the company's San Francisco brewery. Photo: Anchor Brewing Company
Anchor Steam beer will continue to be produced at the company's San Francisco brewery. Photo: Anchor Brewing Company

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Sapporo Holdings will acquire Anchor Brewing Company, maker of Anchor Steam beer, in a deal which will bring the California-based brewer to new international markets.

The acquisition for an undisclosed fee is expected to be completed by August 31, 2017 and will be Sapporo’s first US beer purchase.

Anchor Brewing Company was founded in San Francisco in 1896 and currently operates out of one brewery with an output of 1.75 million cases per year and annual sales of $33m in 2016.

Production of Anchor Steam’s 14 varieties of beer will continue at its Petrero Hill brewery in San Francisco, an Anchor Brewing Company representative said.

“Sapporo is committed to preserving and maintaining Anchor’s operations in San Francisco,”​ Anchor Brewing Company told BeverageDaily.

“Sapporo will invest in the brewery to improve production efficiencies and will strengthen all aspects of management and production to ensure the highest quality of beer is consistently delivered.”

Sapporo will also leverage its global distribution network to export Anchor beer to new international markets, the American brewer said.

Leaving behind craft identity?

Anchor Brewing bills itself as the original craft beer and said it will continue its handmade brewing process in its traditional copper brewhouse even though ownership has shifted to Sapporo.

The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as a small and independently owned with annual production of less than 6 million barrels and less than 25% ownership by anyone other than the craft brewery itself.

“Anchor has been making handcrafted beers before the term ‘craft beer’ was coined,”​ Anchor Brewing Company said.

“While we may not fit some organizations’ definition of a ‘craft brewer’, we will always be the original and we will still be handcrafted in San Francisco.”

Key market for Sapporo

The acquisition is also part of the Japanese brewer’s “Speed 150” ​long-term business plan aimed at building a portfolio of “highly-unique” ​food and beverage brands.

Part of Sapporo’s Speed 150 vision, which extends through 2026, is to promote global business expansion in North America deeming the region one of its “highest-priority markets” ​in addition to Southeast Asia. 

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