Anchor Brewing Plans to End Sales Outside of California

This might also be the end of their Christmas Ales

Anchor Steam beers
Big changes are ahead for Anchor Steam.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The world of craft beer wouldn’t be the same without Anchor Steam. That’s the case for a number of reasons, from the brewery’s role in informing drinkers that they had options other than Coors and Budweiser to the beer’s own origin story, which foreshadows the spirit of experimentation and willingness to dive into history that prompted countless brewers to do the same.

Now, in one of the brewery’s biggest moves since being purchased by Sapporo in 2017, Anchor Brewing has two big changes on the way — and they’re likely to leave fans of the brewery who aren’t based in California eminently frustrated.

Spirits reporter Dave Infante was the first to break the news on Twitter. “[T]ipster tells me @SapporoBeer has decided to cease production of @AnchorBrewing ’s historic Christmas Ale, and will no longer produce the brand’s portfolio for sale outside of the California market,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday, June 9.

One day later, Infante received confirmation from a company representative. The representative did point out that 70% of Anchor’s beers are sold within the state of California, which might help explain some of the thinking behind the decision. Though as Infante pointed out later in the thread, there’s also a lingering question about how the brewery’s union will respond to all of this.

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Infante is continuing to cover the story, both at his newsletter and his column for VinePair. And for anyone who enjoys Anchor’s beer — or their Christmas Ale in particular — this merits keeping an eye on. Anchor’s Christmas Ales have traditionally gotten high marks in InsideHook’s overviews of holiday-themed beers — including 2021’s edition, of which Bonnie Stiernberg wrote, “it always feels a little like drinking a Christmas tree — in the best possible way.”

Is an annual tradition really coming to an end? Stay tuned.


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