Fritz Maytag, longtime owner and brew master of the Anchor Brewing Company, is a central figure in the story of the American craft beer revolution. When Maytag bought Anchor Brewing Company in 1965, he blazed a new trail in the beer industry. At a time when the market was increasingly dominated by big breweries selling inexpensive, watery lagers, Maytag decided to devote his life to creating more flavorful and traditional beers.
While Maytag worked to improve the quality of Anchor's beer, the number of breweries in the US continued to dwindle, and by 1980 there were fewer than 50 breweries in the United States. But then everything began to change. To the home brewers in the Bay Area who began opening their own small breweries in the 80s and 90s, Maytag was both an inspiration and a mentor. Today, astonishingly, there are more than 1500 breweries in the US.
The craft beer revolution is part of what Maytag calls the "food renaissance." Over the past few decades, economic, political, and cultural freedom—coupled with a uniquely American sense of entrepreneurship—has produced more and better choices for American consumers. Remember how difficult it was to find a decent cup of coffee, let alone an espresso, in the 1970s? Well, today we routinely enjoy outstanding coffee, artisan breads and cheeses, superb California wine and, of course, great American beer.
On behalf of craft brew lovers everywhere—thanks, Fritz!
(Maytag recently sold Anchor Brewing Company to the Griffin Group in an arrangement that will maintain the time-honored traditions of the brewery.)
Approximately 10 minutes. Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.