I read that Fritz Maytag is selling his San Francisco brewery. He's owned it for 45 years. He was a rich kid that didn't want to go into the family business making washing machines. His Anchor Steam Beer brand always gets a mention in articles documenting the development of the West Coast craft brewing movement and they are usually pretty kind to him. From what I could tell, he never really wanted to develop a superior beer but to maintain the original taste of what they were producing for blue collar San Franciscans in the 19th Century. I guess he met his goal.
I never could figure out why it got good press. You could taste the malt and the hops alright but it had a lot of nasty wood ester tastes too. It never got easier to drink as you got a buzz on, a highlight of good beer. If you drank too much, too fast, you'd start to feel nauseous and if you didn't back off quick after that, you'd soon be vomiting. Hell of a hangover the next morning. You'd be better off with Miller High Life at half the price, even less if they were running a promo. If you were really strapped for cash, you might be inclined to go with Lucky Lager or Burgermeister, mostly just called Burgie by its hangdog legions of fans. They were never too fastidious about production quality with these brews. If they had cleaned out the feed pipes not long after putting the batch you bought into containers, there could be considerable amounts of caustic in the product. You'd wake up the next day with a really sore throat. It would eat into your guts too and you'd shit out blood and shreds of destroyed intestinal lining for a day or two. Oh, to be young again.
I don't drink much anymore but from what can tell, all the cheap beers now taste exactly the same. No malt, no hops, sour and thin. One completely indistinguishable from another.You gotta pay extra to get something decent. Anchor Steam Beer meets the pay extra criteria but not the decent part.
Maybe the new guys will make a better product. It wouldn't be hard.