Anchor Brewing Celebrates 125th Anniversary and Treats Itself To A Redesign

by Bill McCool on 01/28/2021 | 3 Minute Read

Anchor Brewing is the oldest craft brewery in the US, and combing through their very long history, you can tell that they indeed have seen some shit. In that time, they survived multiple fires, owners, and an earthquake, making it a prime candidate for a California-Goldrush-meets-steam-beer-prohibition folk ballad by Sufjan Stevens if he ever manages to pick up that 50 state album cycle again.

To celebrate its 125th anniversary next month, Anchor Brewing got themselves a slick makeover from global design agency R/GA.

Editorial photograph

I’ve always been partial to the generic, non-longneck bottle, and while they’ve retained it, gone are many of the historical flourishes and illustrations that long dominated the Anchor identity. Aside from the actual anchor, you won’t find longtime designer Jim Stitt’s lovingly executed drawings. The new packaging now only utilizes two or three colors, scraping the barnacles off the old designs in favor of a clean vessel. Plus, they’re now more in line with the beer flavors—green for a California Lager, yellow for Steam Beer, and a red, white, and blue for Liberty Ale—discarding that worn paper finish that the previous Anchor labels reveled in.

Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph

Overall, the latest design wants to pay homage to the brand’s heritage, and the new logo found inspiration in one of their original anchors, integrating etchings from logos past. But there’s no denying that it’s wildly different than what came before. This isn’t a slow evolution. It’s an anchor’s away mission into the horizon, the kind of contemporary about-face that looks further down the road at where the craft beer movement is heading, particularly for larger brands (and let us not forget that their parent company is Sapporo). What once was the beer you might fight tucked away in your grandpa's basement under some Life Magazines is now a streamlined brew looking to stand out among the Harpoon's and Oskar Blues' of the world.

Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph

In addition to the redesign, the brewery plans on launching new flavors, a Tropical Hazy IPA, the low-calorie Little Weekend, and Crisp Pilsner.

The new Anchor designs hit shelves next month. While beer drinkers and hellraisers will find a bolder, sleeker iteration of the San Francisco favorite, only time will tell if it’s as yar as the brewery intended.

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