Going to See the Elephant at Anchor Brewing Company

IMG_3669One of the activities on my bucket list was to go on a tour of the Anchor Brewery. I’ve grown to love the Anchor beers (personal favorites: California Lager and Zymaster) and just love brewery tours in general, so this was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Unfortunately the only time to do these tours is a weekday and you have to book a while in advance. A little hard when I’m still working.

Then the Bold Italic emailed about a competition to win two tickets to Anchor’s SF Beer Week kick-off party to release their new IPA. I entered, as I do with fun sounding local events, not expecting to hear anything. Then one day I got an email with the subject: YOU WON! This is how my brewery tour bucket list activity changed to a brewery party instead.

All we knew was that they were going to release their IPA and the theme was to See the Elephant. This vague invitation was enough to convince me and friend to go, and it ended up being an awesome event that is definitely a bucket list highlight.

To “See the Elephant” is a 19th-century metaphor for the hopeful but risky pursuit of happiness, adventure, and fortune. From the Anchor Brewing Website:

The expression to “see the elephant” originates from a tale that predates the California Gold Rush.

There once lived a farmer who had heard of elephants but had never seen one. He longed for the day when he might catch a glimpse of this rare, exotic creature. When the circus came to town, he loaded his wagon with fresh produce and headed to the market. On the way, just as he’d hoped, he came across the circus parade, nobly led by an enormous elephant. The farmer was ecstatic, but his horses were terrified. They reared and bucked, overturning his wagon and scattering its precious contents in the road. “I don’t give a hoot,” exclaimed the farmer. “I have seen the elephant!”

The elephant became the universal symbol of the Gold Rush, as evidenced by the journals, letters, and sketchbooks of the forty-niners.

So to recap: I was now at a party at Anchor Brewing Company that was focused on pursuing your hopes and dreams. I couldn’t have imagined a better theme. It was a convergence of this major life decision I’d made to take a break from my every day life and pursue my travel dreams with a bucket list activity of beer tasting.

IMG_3671This party was designed to be an adventure through the brewery. Each of us was given a map and a passport; stamp every destination in your passport and you got a goodie bag when you left. At each passport stamp location you could learn something – about IPA’s, elephants, or other participants’ ambitions. During this entire event, the tap room was open with unlimited pours of whatever they had on tap, with a few stations scattered throughout the floor serving the IPA and California Lager, as well as some food stands. Not only were we inside the brewery for a release party of a new beer, but we got to wander around at our leisure, participate in activities, learn about beer, and taste their beers! You can understand our excitement.

Second only to Brews on the Bay (a personal favorite San Francisco event), this was an amazingly fun and well-executed brewery party. The staff was engaging, we learned a lot, and who doesn’t love beer tasting. By the end we had stamped all our passport locations and took home some fun Anchor Brewing Company swag.

At one of the passport stamp locations, there was a board where we had to write down what our version of Seeing the Elephant was. “To See the Elephant is to…” This was a no brainer for me. Without hesitation, I picked up my chalk and wrote down “finally go on my Round the World adventure.” To me, this trip is my pursuit of happiness, adventure and fortune.

Thanks Anchor Brewing Company (and Bold Italic) for an awesome night, fantastic beer, and another reminder about pursuing what really matters.

A few more pictures from the night.


Signs directing us from England to San Francisco and India

The board where we wrote down what Seeing the Elephant is to us (and my friend pointing out what to do)


We made it to India


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