Photo © Brian Stechschulte
When San Francisco Giants fans arrive for Opening Day on April 13 they’ll have a new watering hole to enjoy behind the centerfield wall on the upper concourse. Anchor Brewing has come on board as Giants sponsor this year by creating a signature taproom and beer garden called Anchor Plaza, which was unveiled yesterday during media day. They already sell more beer at AT&T Park than any other location in the country, so creating a venue for fans to enjoy their local beer while rooting for the Giants appears to be a win win for everyone involved.
At the heart of Anchor Plaza is a replica of their Potrero Hill brewery tap room. They’ll serve flagship beers, a few seasonals, and Junípero Gin and tonics thanks to their distilling operation. After getting a drink, you’ll then be able to relax in the beer garden on benches and still watch the game on TV’s mounted above the taproom. The space is also lined with a variety of concession stands so you can pick the perfect food to pair with your beer.
John Dannerbeck, president of Anchor Brewing, and owner Keith Greggor were on hand for yesterday’s unveiling and answered a few questions about the new plaza.
John Dannerbeck and Keith Greggor
How long has Anchor Plaza been in the works?
John Dannerbeck: It’s been in the works for about a year, but in all honesty it goes back to 2000 when the Giants built the ballpark. They’ve talked to Anchor Brewing about doing something every year and we’ve just politely declined, but Keith and Lynn Lackey (Marketing Director) really saw the opportunity here, to really expand our relationship with the Giants. We’ve sold beer here from day one and it’s our number one account. It’s a phenomenal account and we’re all huge Giants fans so why not build on that relationship. The Giants are great to work with, Keith and Lynn had some particularly interesting and creative ideas and the Giants really embraced it and then came back at us and challenged our creativity.
Keith Greggor: They really welcomed us. “How can you make this area more fun for us? What can you do to create an atmosphere for people back here?” That’s when the notion of the taproom we have at the brewery came in and we’ve tried to replicate that as best we could at the ballpark. Anchor’s association with baseball goes way back to the San Francisco Seals.
What were the key creative things you wanted to get out of this space, or project to people that come to the games?
Keith Greggor: We want it to project the Anchor brand and what we stand for, which is traditional, high quality brewing with no compromises. That’s pretty much what we do. We may do a few things a little bit differently, but the processes are exactly the same. We may bottle it a little bit more quickly, we might sell a little bit more aggressively, but our brilliant tradition is what we stand behind.
Can you talk a little bit more about the interest in replicating the brewery taproom? Is it simply a way to translate that experience to the ballpark?
Keith Greggor: Yeah, if anybody’s been to the taproom at the brewery you can see how it really fits into the building, which is an old 1930’s art deco building and so it really evokes that taproom of days gone by. We wanted to have something that felt traditional. We certainly weren’t looking for anything contemporary or have anything that was frivolous, but rather an expression of the kind of history and timelessness of Anchor replicated in this version of our taproom, which if you compare it to any other concessions around the ballpark looks very different. We’re hoping this draws people back here. One of the nice things about being back here now is that it enabled the Giants to put up some TV screens up here as well. There were no TV screens up here before, which prevented people from coming back here often. Now we think people will be more tempted to come back and grab beer or even a Junípero Gin and tonic. That’s one of the nice things about our relationship with Giants. We can have a relationship on the beer side, but also through Anchor Distilling.
Will any of the Zymaster beers show up here on occasion?
Keith Greggor: We’re just going to focus on our main beers, Steam, Liberty and Porter and occasionally a seasonal like Summer or Humming.