Jim Stitt, Anchor Steam Labelmaster

anchor steam beer

While beer doesn’t have the same relationship with age as good wine, Anchor Steam Brewing Company, America’s first craft brewery,┬áis still deeply rooted in the past. This old-school craft beer is brewed in San Francisco (just a few blocks from the Creativebug office), and we’re totally smitten with the way this brewery does business.

anchor steam hops

steam beer sign

brew room

From revolutionary “steam” brewing techniques pioneered in the early 20th century to its locally-sourced ingredients, Anchor Steam represents a tradition of beer brewing that combines innovation with a respect for tradition. While the beer is excellent (please, try this year’s Christmas Ale), what got us really excited during our recent tour was the story of Anchor Steam’s iconic labels.

The Man Behind the Beer Labels

Jim Stitt has been designing and drawing every single one of Anchor Steam’s beer labels for the last 40 years. And folks: they are gorgeous. If you have a thing for old school line drawing and typography, these bottles aren’t just refreshing: they’re works of art. Jim draws everything by hand and avoids anything, in his words, “computerish.”

jim stitt

Photo: Mike Kepka, The Chronicle

Stitt went from technical illustrator for Boeing & Co., to Marine, to art director, to Anchor Brewing legend. We love his dedication to getting it right – he reportedly redesigns dozens of times in order to achieve the perfect look for each label.

Christmas Ale

Anchor Steam (and Stitt) release a version of their Christmas Ale every year with a new blend of herbs and spices, and each year’s label features an equally unique, hand-drawn California tree.

Anchor-christmas-ale-labels

Photo courtesy of The A Position.

Anchor recently wrote a blog post about the effort they put into crafting a label for their California Lager, pulling from historical sources and making sure that the look and feel is perfect for this California-based brewery.

california lager

 

We encourage you to check out the fantastic art that graces the Anchor Steam bottles, and to try the beer if you’re so inclined. Although they’re tough to get, if you’re in San Francisco we also highly recommend an Anchor Steam Brewery tour — the guides are great, the building is packed with history, and the tastings are free.

No, it doesn’t get much better than that.