The West Coast Tour

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How it started...


Well I am headed to Calif. tomorrow to visit Anchor Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing. I hate to play favorites but I really feel that Anchor is the best Brewery in the US. I'll let you know what I think when I return. They are closed to tours right now so we'll see if their Assistant Brewmaster Mark Carpenter can take some time out of his busy schedule to give us the inside scoop.


First stop...


Jacks Cannery Bar. When one first stops into Jack's they can't help but appreciate the atmosphere. They have the place decorated with beer paraphernalia and tap handles. They have over 110 beers on tap. The barmaid who was working the day I was there had a very good working knowledge of beer, as well as the features of what she had on tap that day. She allowed me to sample a half dozen beers. All were excellent. If I wasn't a slacker who waited three months to post to my blog I might even remember which ones they were. Highly recommend if you ever find your self down by the Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco.


Anchor Brewing...


Well almost exactly one month ago I promised to tell you about the private tour of Anchor Brewing as well as Jacks Cannery Bar


Don't let the humble advertising mislead you, Anchor is the best domestic brewery. They do not use unitanks for their brewing. Instead they use open fermentation. But first let me back up a little with my story. I spoke with Mark Carpenter who arranged for Phil Rogers to give us a tour. Mr. Rogers is in charge of training and overseeing the regular tour guides during tour season. Due to my poor navigating skills Jeremy and I arrived about an hour late. Mr. Rogers needed to head out to another appointment in ten minutes. He however was extremely kind to us and gave us over an hour of his valuable time.


He gave us a brew or two while we waited. I was able to experience Anchor Porter on tap at the Anchor Tap Room! What an awesome experience. Then he took us out onto the brewfloor while they were brewing. One of their top brewers opened the brewpot for us, allowed to stick our heads into the Mash Tun and the Lauter Tun. Then after leaving the copper kettle brewroom we proceeded into the cleanroom. In the cleanroom there were thousands of gallons of beer in open fermentation right before our eyes. Stainless tanks not more than a few inches deep held fermenting Anchor Steambeer. Then we proceeded to the hop storage area. There Mr. Phil Rodgers allowed us to see, feel and smell the differences between various hop varieties. From there we went to other fermentation areas, the basement with the conditioning tanks, and then the bottling line.


Afterward we were able to visit and share a pint with a half dozen brewery employees most of whom were brewers. I was able to ask technical questions about the beer and they graciously provided satisfying answers.


I am leaving out so much of the story. I could probably write a book about the experience and still not be giving the full picture of why of Anchor Brewing is the best brewery in the U.S.


Much of their process reminded me of how I brew my own beer. They use natural conditioning to carbonate their beer. They then keep it under pressure while they process and bottle the beer. Their method of homogenization is superior in that is it very quick and not done in the bottle therefore preserving the true character of the brew.


If you ever find yourself in San Francisco be sure to visit Anchor Brewing!

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This page contains a single entry by Brewmaster published on June 21, 2002 3:12 PM.

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