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City Beer Store

Not Rated.
City Beer StoreCity Beer Store
BA SCORE
98
world-class

186 Reviews
Reviews: 186
Visits: 297
rAvg: 4.43
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 186 | Visits: 297
Photo of AussieActor
5/5  rDev +12.9%
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. (196 characters)

Photo of mike312
4/5  rDev -9.7%

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. (304 characters)

Photo of LittleDon
4.6/5  rDev +3.8%

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. (853 characters)

Photo of spark3148857
4.16/5  rDev -6.1%
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. (343 characters)

Photo of ChanChan
4.15/5  rDev -6.3%
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. (1,129 characters)

Photo of indianabeerman
4.97/5  rDev +12.2%
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. (309 characters)

Photo of jaydoc
3.67/5  rDev -17.2%
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. (404 characters)

Photo of orangesol
4.34/5  rDev -2%
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. (915 characters)

Photo of Mulligan
4.94/5  rDev +11.5%
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. (300 characters)

Photo of trumpetego
4.74/5  rDev +7%
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.

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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. (2,364 characters)

Photo of mikefuski17
4.64/5  rDev +4.7%
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. (628 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.6/5  rDev +3.8%
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. (660 characters)

Photo of TxUltraRunner
4.06/5  rDev -8.4%
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. (565 characters)

Photo of AngusOg
3.97/5  rDev -10.4%
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. (1,298 characters)

Photo of dirtylou
4.04/5  rDev -8.8%
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 (567 characters)

Photo of jophish17
4.04/5  rDev -8.8%
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. (2,390 characters)

Photo of SpdKilz
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
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. (534 characters)

Photo of pisano
4.64/5  rDev +4.7%
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. (498 characters)

Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
4.21/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Always something great and unusual on tap. Some true "whalz" and gems during beer events and SF Beer Week.

They gotten a bit greedy since the expansion. Corkage fees on every bottle opened and everything on tap is at not moderately priced, but you truly are in a beer bar whereas the atmosphere is fantastic when it's not crowded. Events, Friday nights and weekends can get cramped.

I also find it quite a bit annoying the selection they have behind the counter which is "In store only" beers, whereas quite a few I've seen are IPAs and DIPAs. I'm assuming past freshness that I'd prefer.

Besides a few gripes, a must visit for any beer-head and when Craig and Beth are not overwhelmed, they're knowledgeable and friendly. Wish Heather was still there... (757 characters)

Photo of arizcards
4.37/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

Stopped in today after a trip to Marin BC.

Atmosphere was good. One steps down to enter from the street which is just the other side of downtown in a not so great neighborhood.

Beer quality was very good. Nice bottle selection ranging from west coast including Midnight Sun and Anchorage to Boulevard to Pretty Things. There were around 12 beers on tap including DuPont Saison Saison and Midnight Sun Red IPA to name a few.

Service was friendly and knowledgeable. I went in looking for a couple bottles of Pliny and learned they just sold out. But the young lady explaining today explained when the best time is to score some (Wednesday after 3). Ended up scoring brews from the aforementioned breweries.

Selection was very good in bottles and pretty good taps were to be had.

Overall the prices were good for San Francisco. I would have stayed longer and had a pint but Da Boss was ready to roll. Definitely stop if you are in the Union Square area. (955 characters)

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.15/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

walking down into a basement-type setting, considering the size of the room it's a wide open space (kinda horseshoe-shaped) to navigate, bar on the right half, bottles on the left mostly - cool, comfortable atmosphere.... dark, plywood, concrete, pipes, metal - i could see this being uncomfortable in cooler weather, ideal in hotter (but this is SF we're talking about here...).... the keg room is visible to the back of the bar.... gummy bartop the best thing.... very pleasant yet impersonal(?) vibe, professional crowd

a damn shitload of hoppy beer in bottles (maybe as much as 3/4 of the beer?!?!) - surprisingly not enough West Coast beer (at least, being from Philly, WC stuff that's new to me), large representation of the DuPont range (that's novel).... mind-blowing, hilariously-overpriced "vintage" bottle list.... this is my first experience with a "corkage" fee and, no sir, I don't like it - a $ to pull off a cap?! - maybe it's figured into the price at places out here? who knows?

15 great drafts actually, nice variety in style - I didn't have anything spectacular, a wheat IPA and a Brown ale, both good for what they were, a lot of the other drafts I'd had elsewhere

food? crappy fatty nosh - some caramel bacon crud and something else, I forget, sorry - none of the grub inspired my sustenance-centric appetite.... the service was fine, the staff responded when you engaged them - all pleasant demeanor, doing their jobs

hey, if you've never been, definitely check the spot out once - it might be your thing (1,531 characters)

Photo of WesM63
4.35/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

I visited CIty Beer during May 2013.

A: Atmosphere was typical. Lots of chatter, but more beer centric.

Q: Quality was excellent. Fresh bottles and small tap list.

S: Service was spot on. Both bar tenders were attentive and willing to recommend me selections.

S: Selection, A relatively small tap last 8-10 beers but all excellent. 2012 vintages of RR Sours, Drakes Aroma Coma and a handful of other Bay Area beers. The bottle list was average, although they had some rare bottles behind the bar for a premium price. (Also must be consumed on premise)

F: No food available. I saw a few people brought pizza in but no menu or recommendation of where food could be purchased.

V: Value was very reasonable. $6/$7 pints and the normal bottles were priced as expected $7-$10/ 22oz bombers) I didn't inquire about the rare bottles but I was told $20+ depending on what you were after. ($60/per Cantillon)

O: Overall ,this is another must visit places around the city. I was lucky enough to sit next to a local at the bar who provided excellent beer geek conversation (Thanks Cody!). While he recommended Toranado as the MUST visit, City Beer was well worth the trip. The upside was I was able to purchase a few bottles and head back to the hotel. Sadly, the bottle selection was nothing I didn't have access to at home (or via the net). RR stuff was few and far between, Bay Area stuff was hit or miss as well as the rest of California brews. At any rate, well worth the trip and I would defiantly recommend visiting. Just be sure to eat before hand or take something with you. (1,578 characters)

Photo of angrybabboon
4.44/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Visited on 3/21/13 when I was in San Francisco for a conference. City Beer Store was, without any remotely close competition, the highlight of my trip.

Atmosphere: The store itself is not in a pretty area of San Francisco, but I won't judge the establishment for its unfortunate location. Stepping down the stairs into the City Beer Store is like stepping out of the city into a cave of solitude. Dark, yet very clean, and smaller than I expected. There's a small bar, some tables, and a number of shelves and fridges with beer. They have dedicated areas, including a fridge for IPAs and a fridge for sours, which was quite awesome. The staff were friendly. The place was not busy, but I was there right there after they opened at noon. Overall, a bit dark, except for the sun coming in from the street, which was shining on bottles (not ideal).

Quality: Fresh bottles, with many stored in fridges. Small tap list, but that certainly adds to the freshness.

Service: The woman in the bottles area was extremely helpful in giving me a tour of the store and giving me some recommendations of beers that I have never heard of. I don't know if these recommendations were any good, as my bottles are still in transit, but I will assume they were decent. The guy behind the bar was also friendly.

Selection: The emphasis of this store seemed to be quality over quantity. Honestly, the selection wasn't that huge. Something like 6 big shelves, and 6 fridges. I was happy to find some Russian River, Midnight Sun, Drake's, and Deschutes (all certainly unavailable on the East Coast). I didn't have any issues blowing $90 here. Oops. I got Supplication on tap after shopping, which was quite memorable.

Value: Compared to pricing in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the prices seemed pretty reasonable. Tap prices were also fair.

Final comments: It's worth fighting through the hoards of the living homeless to visit this lovely beer store. (1,936 characters)

Photo of Hopsiam14
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

This place is amazing. They don't have a ton of taps but what they do have is really high quality stuff. I had an '08 Serpent Stout and a few other really impressive taps. The place has a really laid back feel and a ton of bottles to pick from. I got there on the day of a Pliny shipment which was also really cool. I cannot say enough good things about the place! (364 characters)

Photo of 604growler
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Well, what other place can you walk around drinking Dogfish Head 120 minute on tap while perusing the best selection I've ever seen. Walked out of there with Alesmith Speedway stout, Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout, Highwater Campfire Stout, Sculpin, DFH Punkin, Alesmith Wee Heavy. What more need be said? Well also that two lovely and friendly women were the servers. I plan to go back to the bar to try some more of the taps. The only way to push this place over the top would be to get more space, but still, what more could they offer? It's all there. I had to leave Pliny on the shelf. (620 characters)

City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
98 out of 100 based on 186 ratings.