1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $14.99 (US/print only). Offer ends April 30. Subscribe now! (Because great beer deserves great stories AND readers.)

City Beer Store

Not Rated.
City Beer StoreCity Beer Store
BA SCORE
99
world-class

275 Ratings
Ratings: 275
Reviews: 182
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: n/a
Taps: 15
Bottles: 300
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Store ]

1168 Folsom St
San Francisco, California, 94103-6027
United States
phone: (415) 503-1033

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
Place added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-08-2006

No notes at this time.
Place: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
to view more.
Ratings: 275 | Reviews: 182
Reviews by willjschmidt:
Photo of willjschmidt
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

A store that only sells beer and offers top notch selections and service as well. They also always have several beers on tap. I couldn't stay long during my visit so I couldn't sample the draft beers but this is a fantastic concept. There are a couple of coaches out as well for the patrons to chill.

Even though it's on the small side the selection here is top notch. Lots of stuff that you can probably only find in a small handful of Bay Area stores. Only a few beers are kept in a small cooler, the rest are out on the shelves. They also let you break six-packs or buy singles which allows you to try a lot more beers.

The best part is the service. The guy working when I went in was incredibly helpful, offering suggestions and just bs-ing about beer. I would highly recommend this place.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Rilesmiles
4.11/5  rDev -8.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Selection was smaller than I had expected, but definitely nothing to scoff at. Was able to find a few 'wants' that I can't get back home in Wisconsin, but nothing mind-blowing.

Vibe was cool, and the inclusion of a small tap room was a great bonus. Didn't stop for a beer but it looked well-managed.

Staff was friendly. A worthy stop, but not a destination in my opinion.

Photo of JamLand
4.7/5  rDev +5.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75

Easily the best store/bar combo I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. Plenty of street parking around the store, if renting a car while in SF. Typically, one of the best to go bottle selections in the city and usually a great tap list, so you can have a brew after all the hard work of beer hunting.

Photo of M_chav
4.97/5  rDev +11.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Awesome beer fridge, best selection I've ever seen - awesome beers on tap during San francisco beer week

Photo of smakawhat
4/5  rDev -10.5%

A very unassuming store, but also serves beer with a full bar and a few bites to go with it.

The tap list is real impressive at times, with items from Russian River, Alpine, and other West coast classics.

Real nice organized store too. It's not a huge selection, but lots of West coast goodies, and even some decent foreign imports.

A great buying and drinking beer stop in the area.

Photo of Goalcam
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%

Love the concept, lots of beer to choose and some charcuterrie options. Also have some nice beers on tap rotation as well. Slightly shady area in the city though.

Photo of dbannister
5/5  rDev +11.9%

This is the premier place in San Francisco to either get a bottle or something on tap (15 taps). The place has been open for >7 yeas but it has stayed humble and honest since the craft beer explosion. The staff is extremely pleasant, helpful, and responsive. The owners are great people who have helped shape the craft beer scene in the area.

Great place to go have a conversation (music isn't too loud) while enjoying a quality libation.

Photo of AussieActor
5/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

An unassuming cozy little nook staffed by some of the coolest people in the industry. Adam, Teddy, Ryan and Eddie always deliver. The knowledge and enthusiasm is second to none. I love this place.

Photo of mike312
4/5  rDev -10.5%

Fairly unimpressed considering all the hype. I was able to find a similar beer selection at a nearby Whole Foods (which was an amazing selection, mind you). Overall, compared to the likes of other dive bars with similar selection (Toronado, Zeitgeist, etc.) and Monk's Kettle, I was far from impressed.

Photo of LittleDon
4.6/5  rDev +2.9%

A (mostly) beer only SoMa establishment with an strong tap list and comfortable environs.

If I'm staying in SF for more than a day, and staying in the usual Financial District spot, I try to make my way to City Beer Store. The three for four times I've been here it's been fairly busy. It's a polite crowd, though, a I've never had to wait too long for my next pour. There's always something to choose. A dozen to fifteen choices ranging from very small breweries you've never heard of (unless you live in the area) to stuff you've always wanted to try but haven't been able to find. The food is limited, but you're not here to eat. Parking is limited, but it is walkable if you're staying around the Convention Center. Prices are reasonable. I believe there are bottles and growlers for purchase, but I never have. A must if you're coming to the city.

Photo of spark3148857
4.16/5  rDev -6.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

A well selected list of draft beers to consume while perusing a relatively extensive stock of bottles. While the bottles are priced reasonably, I have found the draft list to usually be high even for San Francisco standards. I haven't found as many rarities (such as RR sours, barrel aged etc.) here as I have at some other stores in the city.

Photo of ChanChan
4.15/5  rDev -7.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75

I came here on Wednesday May 29th, 2014. The Atmosphere was a bit crowded for a Wednesday but we had no problem in getting service. The quality of beer is excellent. I just wish they could have more refrigerators for the IPA's they keep on the outside shelfs. The service was good. The selection in bottles was very decent both in the refrigerators as well as in the shelf. They also have a number of beers on draft. The list wasn't very impressive that night! In addition, they have refrigerators that are at the back of the bar, these have rare but very expensive beer. I decided to skip on those even though they had a good selection of brews. I did not get to try any of their food but I believe they only serve light appetizers. The thing that I disliked about this place was the price of beer. A lot of the beer is affordable but the corkage fee seemed unfair to me. They have different corkage fees depending on the OZ per beer. I know they need to get as much money from people as possible for rent but I'd rather just drink their draft beer instead. Overall it was a good experience but not as good as I had anticipated.

Photo of indianabeerman
4.97/5  rDev +11.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

went with my wife on a Friday night. the places was packed. service was awesome. bartenders were very knowledgeable and also quite helpful in the selection of beers. the bottle selection was great. current beers and aged beers. people hanging out drinking exceptional beers.

Here on vacation 1st week of may.

Photo of jaydoc
3.67/5  rDev -17.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5

Visited during the early afternoon on a Sunday. The selection was exceptional and layout was good. They were understaffed and were very slow with service. I heard several other customers complaining about this as well. They had a great vintage cooler selection, beers from which must be consumed on the premises. Other than the service the store was fantastic. I would revisit to give it a second chance.

Photo of orangesol
4.34/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

Tried to stop at Monk's Kettle but they were too packed thanks to a PTY event so we decided to go here a little earlier than I was planning, oh well. Atmosphere was solid all around. Bottle shop area to the left is informal with bottles on shelves and coolers all over the place. Bar area off to the right had plenty of people enjoying beers and talking amongst themselves, we were lucky to get a table as they quickly filled up once we got situated. Service was great. Girl behind the bar got my beers quickly and was nice to talk to. Quality was top notch all around. Selection on drafts was a little light but they were all top notch so it more than made up for it. The bottles on offer were pretty insane as well. Food was nearly non existent but the charcuterie we got was really good. Prices were comparable across the board to the other places I have visited. Overall an awesome bottle shop / beer bar combo.

Photo of Mulligan
4.94/5  rDev +10.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Awesome selection and knowledgeable staff. Prices are not cheap, but are what you'd expect for high-end beer. The store's layout is a little strange (i.e., half convenience store and half bar) and it feels a little more sterile than I'd like. But those are nits--this is my favorite beer place in SF.

Photo of trumpetego
4.74/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Time for a five year update.

Since I first reviewed City Beer, they have expanded into the adjoining storefront and increased their tap list and on-premise presence.

City Beer continues to be a regular stop on my semi-annual visits to San Francisco. They always have a great selection of bottles and a well-curated draught list for me to imbibe from while I make my retail selections. My only qualm is that City Beer's selection is not, generally speaking, exhaustive: They are particular about which beers they carry from each brewery. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as they generally carry the best offerings from most of the breweries represented. However, if you're looking for a particular beer for a particular brewery City Beer might not be the place for you.

To summarize:
Atmosphere - Industrial. Utilitarian, no frills.
Quality - Excellent selection of beers, well-curated. Not everything under the sun.
Service - The store is now divided into on-premise and off-premise halfs. I've always had excellent service on both sides.
Selection - As I said above, I've always found great beers at City Beer. That said, I haven't always found what I'm looking for.
Value - Good. Many of the beers City Beer carries are difficult to find with any reliability elsewhere. However, some of the more common offerings (Sierra Nevada 6pks, Anchor 6pks, etc.) are $1-2 more than at other retail establishments in the city.

---

1/6/09 Review:

I always make it a point to stop by City Beer when I'm in town.
The atmosphere of the shop is nothing to write home about. It is a somewhat sterile looking storefront in SoMa and the walk there from the Civic Center BART/MUNI station is less than pleasant.
City Beer offers a wide selection of American and European beers. Their strongest representations are Belgians and, obviously, California microbrews. I don't mind this, as I go to places like City Beer for the CA beers (such as Russian River, Pizza Port, Drake's, etc.) I can't find in the Northeast.
Service is always exceptional. The people working there have always been helpful and more than happy to talk beer and make recommendations.
There is no food at City Beer, but they do have five or six rotating taps of primarily seasonal beers.
Prices are reasonable. This is not the cheapest place to buy beer in San Francisco, but it isn't outrageous.

Photo of mikefuski17
4.64/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I made a trip from P to CA and made it into this place. It was awesome. Very cool vibe and atmosphere. The tap selection was awesome. Every tap on I have never had because it's not easy to get them. Same with the bottle shop in the same building. The selection was amazing. Tons of great beers to pick from. There is also a higher end bottle selection behind the bar. A handful of cantillion bottles and big damnations and temptations. The bar tender was cool as hell too be sat and talked beer, previous events, and the city(I was a tourist). Very cool place. Next time I'm in San Francisco, I will be making another stop here.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.6/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

This is a really cool place that is worth a visit for a pint but also worth a visit to see what the bottle shop might have. When I was there, there were a few solid bottles available but nothing overly rare or limited. I would guess that their inventory gets picked over pretty quickly given its location and the great tap list they have.

As for the bar area, it was really cool. Small place with a great atmosphere and friendly and knowledgeable service. There were about 10 taps but the quality was fantastic. Blind Pig, 2011 Supplication and Salvation were among the beers on tap when I was there.

Makes sure you stop here for a pint when you are in SF.

Photo of TxUltraRunner
4.06/5  rDev -9.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 3

Stopped here after the Toronado and was pleasantly surprised they had the beer I came to buy, Almanac Reserve #3. Beautiful sour on tap. Seven of eight beers on tap. Bottle selection was a bit lacking but the help/suggestions was appreciated. About the same size as Toronado but cleaner and more modern. Had a special cooler but the bottles inside were on-premise consumption. Would like to have gotten an Abyss but I was alone and I knew after the Toranado I wouldn't be able to make it back to the hotel in one piece. Definitely go back next time I'm in the city.

Photo of AngusOg
3.97/5  rDev -11.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Visited on a Tuesday afternoon.

I liked the idea of the place. There's only one place i know of that's like this in my area, and that's more catered to wine. This is a hybrid bottle shop/beer bar. There's a bar with approx 10 taps (sorry i didn't count), and the choices seemed to be good. Alot of smaller breweries with limited distro, not alot of stuff i'd seen elsewhere around town. The other side is a bottle shop, where you can purchase for take out or take to the bar and pop right there to drink. Probably pretty standard stuff for No Cal bottle shops, but for an East Coaster, i was pretty amazed by the selection. There is also a a cooler with some really nice vintage bottles, but they are for on site consumption only. They are a bit pricey and i had to fight the urge the entire time not to buy anything.
The place had a chill vibe, at least on the afternoon i was there. It was the kind of place you could go to really talk beer, whether that be with the employees or the patrons that this place attracted. I had planned for another stop that day, but got "sucked in" drinking good beers and talking beer (and being close enough to the hotel i didn't have to bother with public transportation), so i stayed the whole afternooon. Nice place, will go back if i'm ever back in the area.

Photo of dirtylou
4.04/5  rDev -9.6%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

For some reason I was expecting something much larger... ~10 taps, a few coolers and dry-shelves of to-go product and a goldmine cooler of vintage and out-of-network bottles for on-site consumption.

A little pricey on the taps, but while the bottle shop/bar hybrid may be huge in the NW, I understand there aren't too many peers in SF. Everything looked pretty well maintained - a few almanac bottles on the shelf, supplication, but not anything else of considerable rarity. I think this place gets picked over a bit.

Good spot, but dime a dozen in Portland/Seattle

Photo of jophish17
4.04/5  rDev -9.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 1.75 | selection: 5

I've been to SF twice now, and missed out on City Beer Store the first time I was out there, so I was not going to miss it this most recent trip! This was actually one of several stops we had on a long walking tour of SF on a Saturday during Beer Week.

The store is unassuming from the outside - just another street-level retail space in a mixed-use development.. until you walk in. I love the exposed pipes and such, the sort of new industrial feel that place had. Tasting bar to the right, with the beer shop to the left. I browsed the store for a bit - to a beer nerd from the East Cost, this is unreal, with all of those breweries we love (Russian River, Midnight Sun, Deschutes, etc) yet we never see on shelves back home. It probably wasn't every single beer available from local distributors, but it sure was high in quality. It was a real treat. Needing time to think of what my haul would be (besides restricted, since I had to fly home), we sat down at the bar and enjoyed the SF Beer Week lineup on the taps. I started with an Obliteration IX - are you kidding me? As I sipped, I was in heaven. Enjoying a great beer from a great brewery in one of the best cities in America with my awesome girlfriend at my side. What could ruin THIS?

I finished my beer. I decided that I was on vacation, and that I was going to pony up some cash for some of the absurd bottles in the cooler. I waited for the bartender. I waited some more. Then, finally, roughly 20 minutes after I had finished by beer, the guy working the *store side* asked if we were waiting for a beer, and then he got the bartenders attention on our behalf. I don't remember his name, but if you read this - thank you, else we might still be waiting. I ordered a bottle of the Wanderer, which was delicious and I was able to share some with my gf and some of the people around us. But I couldn't help feeling at that point that I rather go somewhere else than to buy any more 50$+ bottles. So we left, I was disappointed and the girlfriend was a bit mad.

This could have been my favorite beer store in America. I probably would have walked away with a t shirt (love the little playtpus dude!) and beer had been totally happy. However, it takes service to be at the top, and on this day for us, the service was shitty, so we left with a sour taste that even overpowered one of the Bruery's finer efforts. What a bummer.

Photo of SpdKilz
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Come here every time I am in SF.

When you walk in, you are greeted by at least one employee almost immediately. I've been here both during the day and night and both times it was pretty hopping. The store itself is modern, clean, and well done. A great selection of beer for sale that you can open right after you purchase it at the bar, and an extensive bottle list that you are guaranteed to find something special on. As with everything in SF, it is a little pricey, but the quality of the place is worth it. Seek this place out.

Photo of pisano
4.64/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I lived in SF for several years after grad school and I'm proud to say this is one of the establishments I used to frequent when I was first getting into craft beer. Craig and Beth are two of the kindest people you'll ever meet and they run one of the most outstanding beer stores I've ever visited. It's awesome to see the success they're having with City Beer and I hope this success only continues for them. If you're a craft beer lover and happen to be in SF at any point, this place is a must.

to view more.
City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
99 out of 100 based on 275 ratings.