by Hal Davis, on special assignment for the Modern Gentleman’s Blog
“Let’s have another beer to drink while we tour through the brewery,” suggested our gracious tour guide and bartender.
On Monday, August 10, at approximately 3 PM Pacific Standard Time, eight Wingtippers and group leader Jennifer Phoenix bravely finished their third beer in order to receive their “walking beer” for a private tour of the historic Anchor Steam Brewery and Distillery.
“This is a civilized way to welcome in a new week,” commented one guest. Another astute guest observed that everyone in the brewery, including the production workers, had a cup of cold Anchor Steam in their hands. It must be one of the many perks of the job, and a requirement of a Wingtip brewery tour.
According to our guide, the name “steam” came from the way the old brewery chose to chill boiling wort. Not wanting to invest the money or time in hauling ice to chill the wort, Anchor brewers pumped the hot wort up to large, shallow, open-top bins on the roof of the brewery so that it would be rapidly chilled by the cool air blowing in off the Pacific Ocean. Thus while brewing, the brewery had a distinct cloud of steam around the roof let off by the wort as it cooled.
After touring through the inner-workings of the brewery, the Wingtip group was led to a secret rooftop apartment once used by Fritz Maytag himself. Now converted into a speakeasy bar, Wingtip members were warmly greeted by Anchor Distilling’s brand development manager, Jen Chen, and treated to a two-hour tromp through 19 different distilled products.
Wingtip members enjoyed drams of gin, mezcal, Scotch, Japanese whisky, Taiwanese whisky, and even American whisky, while taking in a panoramic view of San Francisco. Standing on the rooftop (almost) ready to fall, we noticed an advertisement for Anchor Steam that read “Drunk in San Francisco since 1896,” to which at least one Wingtipper in attendance confessed he could relate to after this fine day.