I just recently got back from a work trip to San Francisco. Although how often I travel for work has slowed down from where I was a few years ago, I’ve learned to appreciate the trips more. For me, that means getting out and seeing the city; taking in a little culture. I hadn’t been to San Francisco in a few years so I decided to go out early and spend the weekend.
The one thing I missed out on last time I was in San Francisco was touring the Anchor Brewing company. It was their cleaning day when I was in town and I couldn’t make my schedule work. I was so excited to see their brewery though! Not just because I enjoy their beer but because the brewing process they use is so different from any of the breweries in Minnesota (and really most in the country). This time around I made sure they were open and reserved my spot on the tour well in advance.
After finishing the tour, I was the most amazed with the history of the place. Anchor Brewing can trace its origins all the way back to 1849, founded by a German brewer named Gottlieb Brekle. This makes it America’s first and oldest craft brewery. The story of their history includes the entire brewery burning down over 100 years ago and almost going bankrupt at different points. I won’t go into all the detail but you should check it out at their website.
The best part of the tour was learning about steam beer and their unique brewing process. Anchor Brewing uses open fermentation for the initial fermentation stage of their beers. This process stems for the origins of Steam Beer (now known as the California Common). In order to cool the wort in San Francisco back in the 1800s they would pump it up to the roof into shallow pools where the cool air would reduce the wart’s temperature to a point where they could pitch the yeast. The hot wart would give off steam; thus the term steam beer.
The second part of Anchor’s brewing process I found so unique was the krausening their beer. Krausening is a German brewing method which carbonates beer without the addition of sugar or pure CO2. Anchor Brewing does this by taking fully fermented beer and mixing in partially fermented beer together. As the partially fermented beer continues to ferment it gives off CO2. Normally in the brewing process this CO2 is vented off; because Anchor Brewings’s tanks don’t release the CO2 it goes back into the beer and creates natural carbonation. I couldn’t get a picture of these tanks as they don’t allow pictures in the fermentation area. You can see them on their website. In the home brewing world, you don’t see a lot on krausening beer but Brad Smith over at beersmith.com put together a really good article many years back.
2016 brewing resolution – when the weather gets nice I’m going to try my hand at a California Common done the traditional way. We’ll see how it works out!
Anchor Brewing’s Website: anchorbrewing.com
Beersmith.com Krausening Entry: http://beersmith.com/blog/2010/03/22/krausening-home-brewed-beer/