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1965: 1 microbrewery
182 national and regional breweries
1984: 18 microbreweries
76 noncraft national and regional breweries
stood alone. He was the pioneer. Others followedin the West, there was
Jack McAuliffe, Jane Zimmerman, and Suzy Denison of New Albion Brew-
ing Company, the rst home-built microbrewery; Ken Grossman and Paul
Camusi of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Randolph Ware and David Hum-
mer of the Boulder Beer Company; the Cartwright Brewing Company;
Bert Grant of Yakima Brewing and Malting Co.; and the Independent Ale
Brewery (Redhook) in Seattle, Washington. In the East, there was Matthew
Reich of the Old New York Brewing Co., the pioneer of contract brew-
ing, and Bill Newman of Wm. S. Newman Brewing Co. But Fritz Maytag
started it all.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary a pioneer is one of a body of
foot-soldiers who march with or in advance of an army or regiment, having
spades, pickaxes, etc. to dig trenches, repair roads, and perform other labours
in clearing and preparing the way for the main body.
I am quite sure that Fritz Maytag and the others did not think of them-
selves as preparing the way for the main body, but thats what they did in the
1960s and 1970s. They built the foundation for the craft brewing movement,
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Copyrighted Steve Hindy, 2014
which, as I write, includes more than 2,700 breweries and accounts for a rich
6.5 percent of the US beer market by volume and more than 10 percent by
They laid down the enduring principles of smallness, independence,
and all malt beers (as opposed to the rice and corn additives favored by the
national brewers). They gured out how they had to price their beer to make
their companies viable. Maytag was generous with his time, advice, and even
ingredients when others came to visit his brewery in San Francisco.
Almost all of us in the movement think of ourselves as pioneers in our
home markets. And we were. The breweries that opened subsequently played
important roles in building a market for craft beer in America. All of us knew
what it was like to confront a barroom full of Bud/Miller/Coors drinkers who
turned up their noses at our dark and avorful beers, our hoppy beers, our
strong beers.
But it must have been even more difcult in 1965 when Maytag bought
the failing Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco. At the time micro-
brewed beers, or craft beers, did not exist. There were no domestic beers
competing with the foreign imports. The import segment itself was growing
in the United States, but that was because sophisticated drinkers already rec-
ognized it as better beer. Fritz Maytag and his cohorts had to make it all up,
the same way the early settlers did when they pushed their wagons across the
Allegheny Mountains.
First off, I have a confession to make. In my early days in the craft brew-
ing industry, I did not understand the adoration afforded Fritz Maytag. I
guess it was a class thing. After all, he was the grandson of Frederick Louis
Maytag, founder of the Maytag Washing Machine Company, the gold stan-
dard of washing machines in the United States, known everywhere for its TV
ads with a dozing Maytag repairman who had nothing to do because Maytag
washing machines were so darn sturdy and reliable. Fritzs father, Frederick
Louis Maytag II, developed Maytag Blue Cheese, an American original based
on the French Roquefort style.
Fritz Louis Maytag III was educated at Deereld Academy in Massachu-
setts and then got a degree in American literature from Stanford. He dressed
in tweedy jackets and button-down shirts. He wore wire-rimmed glasses and
spoke with a melliuous baritone that commanded attention. And he was a
I remember saying to my colleagues, I dont see what the fuss about Fritz
Maytag is. He is an heir to the Maytag Washing Machine Company. He is
playing with different sheet music than the rest of us.
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Copyrighted Steve Hindy, 2014
How wrong I was. I apologize, Fritz. Those of us in the main body,
as Ill call the band of brewers that followed the pioneers, are so fortunate to
have had Maytag out in front. Over the years he gave spellbinding speeches at
Craft Brewers Conferences. He elevated our passion for brewing. He quoted
Euripides and Aeschylus speaking of the honor of being a brewer. He chided
the contract brewers for being fake brewers because they contracted with
other breweries to produce their beer, but he applauded them for educating
the public about good beer. When we bitched about beer distributors, he
reminded us that the three-tier legal systemwhich in many states prevents
brewers from owning distributors and retail outletsprotects the indepen-
dence of distributors and impedes big brewers ability to create monopolies,
allowing independent brewers to cut into the market.
Years later I got to know Maytag better when we both served on the
board of the BAA. Fritz was a treasure for the craft brewing movement. And
he arguably was the forerunner not just for microbrewing, but the entire DIY
movement that includes cheese making, winemaking, and distilling.
But back to the story.
In the early 1960s Maytag spent some time in Japan after he graduated
from college, but he soon moved to San Francisco, the ultraliberal city that was
the epicenter of the hippie movement. Haight-Ashbury was ground zero for the
tune in, turn on, drop out culture of the LSD advocate Dr. Timothy Leary. I
didnt know Maytag at that time, but I doubt LSD drew him to San Francisco.
He did have a full beard, but he declined to talk to me about the 60s.
Maytag, seventy-four, shared his story with fty-seven-year-old Gross-
man, cofounder of Sierra Nevada, at the 2011 Craft Brewers Conference in
San Francisco. Grossman was a student of Maytags early work, but the two
deserve equal credit for founding the craft brewing industry. The interview
provides important insights into the early brewing experience of both men.
I actually got into brewing before I got into the wine world, just barely
but a little before, Maytag said, sitting in a comfortable easy chair before
the audience of small brewers. I used to hang out at an old place in San
Francisco called the Old Spaghetti Factorythose who knew it remember it
well. It was a charming place. And it was the equivalent of my local, as they
would say in England. I would go there in the evening for a few beers before
bed, meet with friends most every night. And one day the owner, Fred Kuh,
asked me if I had ever been to the Anchor brewery and said they were clos-
ing down that next weekend, and he thought I should go see it before it was
closed because it was the kind of thing I would like.
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Copyrighted Steve Hindy, 2014