ARTISTRY IN ACTION: Anchor Brewing’s Teagan Thompson
True to its name, craft brewing is absolutely a fine-tuned craft. It’s pretty much like honesty in a bottle – carefully made by expert beer enthusiasts who love the art of crafting beer as much as the the consumers love drinking it.
With the craft beer explosion continuing to rise over the past decade, some of us might not know that craft beer has been around for a very long time. Let’s take a look at the grandfather of all craft breweries: San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing. Believe it or not, it’s America’s first and oldest brewery. According to Anchor’s website, the “history of Anchor Brewing can be traced all the way back to the California gold rush.” Whoa. So, needless to say, Anchor has seen a lot. The Anchor brewery burned down following the 1906 earthquake in the Bay Area, went through prohibition, burned down again, relocated, became one of the first to produce porters, barley wine and IPAs regularly, opened Anchor Distillery, and is still here – better than ever – crafting the beer we can’t get enough of.
Almost six years ago, San Francisco-based creative, Teagan Thompson, found herself a job at Anchor Brewing and now, she’s the Events, PR & Digital Marketing Manager. For this edition of Artistry in Action, I got to pick Teagan’s brain a little about her role at Anchor Brewing, Anchor’s branding and artwork, and how creativity plays a role in every aspect of Teagan’s life.
Take us through your typical day at Anchor Brewing.
Every day is different- that’s one of the many things I love about my work. Some days are spent in the office, some are spent hosting partners and press at the brewery, sometimes I’m working offsite events or out working the market. Each day comes with a new set of opportunities and challenges but I’m always focused on beer so it’s fun.
How does creativity play a role in your position at Anchor Brewing?
I’m grateful to integrate creativity into many aspects of my work. I create all of our social media content so taking photos/videos, writing copy, and coming up with creative ways to engage our social community is a lot of fun. On the PR front, I put on my storyteller hat to communicate Anchor’s brand story and beers in an impactful and relevant way. Events certainly welcome creativity from concept to theme to activation.
What can you tell us about the Anchor Brewing artwork and branding?
The majority of Anchor’s packaging artwork was drawn by local artist, Jim Stitt. He’s an incredible illustrator, has been drawing label artwork for Anchor since the 70’s, lives on a houseboat in Sausalito, and is an all-around badass. Here is a cool video we made about him. Founded in 1896, Anchor is America’s first and oldest craft brewery and is seen as the grandfather of the American craft beer movement we know and love today. The Anchor brand is centered on the brewery’s deep heritage, the timelessness of Anchor Steam Beer (our flagship beer), and Anchor’s tenants of originality, authenticity, and craftsmanship. We do things with great intention and with quality at the forefront, never cutting corners or taking the easy road. That permeates through every aspect of the brewery and Anchor brand.
What effect do you think the brand’s unique artwork has on the brand’s success as a whole?
It’s authentic and handcrafted, just like our beer. It’s genuine and unique, perfectly reflecting the brewery.
How has Anchor Brewing’s brand evolved since you first started working there?
I think we’ve gotten better at effectively communicating who we are, what we do, and why we do it. The craft beer industry today is crowded, competitive, and unpredictable at times. Remaining true to who we are but doing a better job at communicating that has certainly improved the brand over the past 6 years I’ve been at Anchor. We’ve also continued to innovate, which I think is important, releasing new beers that push the boundaries of our craft.
Teagan with Anchor brewer Dane Volek at a Drink Steam With Wood Thumb event during SF Beer Week 2017
What has been your favorite creative collaboration while working at Anchor Brewing (event, artist, band, etc.)?
Almost two years ago I started an event series in San Francisco called “Drink Steam With___” that I’m still running today. As America’s first craft brewery, Anchor has greatly contributed to San Francisco’s Maker Movement and continuing that tradition, the Drink Steam With___ events highlight and celebrate our city’s local makers. Each event features a different maker, from bands to chefs to woodworkers to filmmakers and more. The events involve interactive components so it’s really experientially driven. And, of course, there’s lots of tasty Anchor Steam Beer to be drank! Collaborating with each maker to come up with unique ways to bring their craft to life in a fun, engaging way has been really rewarding and certainly nourishes my creativity. I’m currently hosting 1 Drink Steam With___ event a month.
When you coordinate events – what’s the planning process?
It depends on whether it’s an event Anchor is owning/hosting or if it’s an event another party is putting on that Anchor is participating in. For the latter, it’s much more simple and involves coordinating staffing and event materials and determining which beers to pour. For events Anchor owns it’s much more involved; but the more I put in the cooler the event is, naturally. For a Drink Steam With___ event, I first determine the maker I’m going to work with. I collaborate with the maker to come up with the experiential component that brings their craft to life. Maybe that’s a Q&A on stage followed by a live music performance. Maybe that’s live painting, chef demos, or live screen printing. Other times we’ve set up DIY stations where attendees can be makers themselves, doing woodworking, letterpress printing, and more. Once I have an idea of what the event components are, I tap into my network of local venues to secure a location for the event. Once that’s all in place then I address PR and Digital Marketing channels to promote the event. It’s a lot of planning and coordination but it always pays off!
Has working at Anchor fueled your creativity outside of work?
Definitely. As I’ve developed creative skills in my professional life, I’ve applied them to things outside of work. I’ve started hosting retreats at my family’s property in Calistoga, using my event planning and marketing capabilities. I also coordinate a lot of big social events too. My sister is getting married this year so tapping into my creative skill set (and beer discount) is definitely coming in handy there.
[left] Drinking Anchor Steam at Outside Lands Music Festival (Anchor is served in Beer Lands)- 2016
[right] Teagan started at Anchor as a tour guide and quickly worked her way up. circa 2011.
Where do you go to get inspired in your life outside of Anchor?
Being in nature always inspires me. I particularly love the forest and the mountains- it’s where I feel most at home. I’m in awe of the beauty, complexity, and resilience of Mother Nature and am always inspired in her presence.
Who inspires you to be creative?
My parents have always been huge supporters of my creativity. Growing up art and music were a big part of my life. I was a music major in the beginning of college and although I changed my major after freshman year, my parents continued to remind me of my creative talents, prompting me to exercise and nurture my creativity. My boss at Anchor, Lynn Lackey who is Anchor’s CMO, also inspires me to be creative. She’s an incredible mentor and is open to all of my ideas, inspiring me to always think big and never limiting me.