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City Beer Store

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

271 Ratings
Ratings: 271
Reviews: 182
rAvg: 4.46
pDev: n/a
Taps: 15
Bottles: 300
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ 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.
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Ratings: 271 | Reviews: 182
Photo of fragilehearted
4.4/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I decided to stop by the City Beer Store on my most recent trip to San Francisco. It was on a Friday in the middle of the day, so there were a few people in there, but it wasn't too crowded - perfect!

It's like a little beer cave tucked away from the city life. They have a few beers on tap, some beers in coolers, and some beers at room temp, for your shopping & drinking needs. You can enjoy a bottle or draft beer while you shop! I immediately ordered one & settled in before doing any shopping. When I was ready to shop, the gal there was helpful but not pushy.

There's not room for a ton of beer, but what's there is great. Tons of locals & Belgians. I loaded up on mostly Russian River, of course.

Prices are a bit high to me, but this is California (not Texas), & the selection & service make it worth it. Vibe is the best - clean, laid-back, quiet (it's downstairs off the street)...plus, how great is it to enjoy a great beer while you're shopping? I made some friends & enjoyed a second - hey, I'm on vacation! City Beer Store is a great place, & I'd be a regular if I lived in SF.

Photo of Chelsea1905
4.44/5  rDev -0.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Stopped in here one night to only be told that they closed at 10, it was 9.50 so I grabbed a couple of bottles to go. Staff were very helpful and sorry for their closing time.

Good selection of the Russian River stuff, some brew Dog, a decent amount of Belgians, overall very nice for such a small space.

The store itself you'd walk by if you didn't have the address. You go down into a basement area, often there are people sitting on the stairs as there are only 3 small tables infront of the coolers to the right as you go in.

Guys serve a few handles (they are listed on the boards above the same coolers I just mentioned) that run the gambit of flavours. Pales, Belgian, Peche and a couple others when I was there.

So, I stopped back in on a Sunday, and they were closing at 6pm. So I grabbed a Russian River pale and a couple bottles to go again. Got chatting to a guy in there who wasbuying a Duchess De Bourgonne and commented on me picking up a Sculip. Good atmosphere in an area I didn't feel to great about walking around in at night.

Very enjoyable little bar. Saw it at night and afternoon, and would definitely go back in the future.

Scott

Photo of KevSal
5/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

This is one of my favorite spots in the city where i'm a regular. All the guys down there are great. where else can you have a pint of rare stuff while shopping a huge selection of beers.

A- its the perfect atmosphere for me, but im usually there in the afternoon so the place is nearly empty, the way i like to shop and sip some beer.

Quality- this is where they hit their mark. lots of quality bottled beers and usually a top quality selection on tap. they pull some pretty big beers on tap, constantly. its always changing (this could be bad for some though) so theres always something for you on tap.

Sev- A+ these guys are great down here

Selection- probably the best selection in the city, along with healthy spirits, this guys get everything, and a lot you just cant find anywhere else.

between here, healthy spirits and toronados (and the whole foods Wes is at) youve pretty much got everything covered in SF.

EDIT: also something really cool about this place a lot of people don't know is you can order a half glass on any of the beers on tap and its half the price. i really like this because you can try a variety of beers without getting too inebriated.

Photo of nickfl
4.2/5  rDev -5.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This is an interesting little place. They seem to mostly be a tiny bottle shop, but they have a few tables where you can sample what is on their six taps, or drink any of the bottles that you buy there.

They seem to have a good selection, certainly they are a top tier bottle shop. I was really happy with what I was able to find there since I was visiting from the east coast, though I don't know how they compare to other bottle shops in the area.

The service was the ideal combination of helpful, but unobtrusive. They could answer one's questions but knew when to leave you alone.

This is a really neat little place to stock up on bottles and enjoy a pint or two while you are at it. I don't know that I would head there for evening drinking however, since it seems like such a small place would easily become overcrowded.

Photo of DoubleJ
4.3/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

All this talk about City Beer Store has me interested. Let's take a look inside;

It feels almost like a small cave, shielded away from the sunlight and the city. The interior is very simple; there's a small tasting bar pouring six beers from tap, several coolers off to one side, and another section of bottles stored at room temp. A few high tables are scattered around. Even in the middle of the afternoon, there were a couple groups of people drinking and one person taking notes of the beer he was drinking at the bar.

I would have loved to stick around for a glass of Mortification, but time was not on my side if I wanted to check out other places. The bottle selection is very good, beers like Kern River, Lost Abbey, Cascade, AleSmith, tons of Russian River and two day old Pliny. Many of the Belgians beers and six-packs sit at room temp. All the bottles are well marked with pricetags, a plus in my book.

Did it live to the hype? That's a tough call. City Beer Store is worth being talked because, well, it's a beer store with a lot of quality beer. And you can drink on premise, a bonus! Just don't let Tuong Lu Kim, owner of South Park's "City Wok", anywhere near, or risk the inevitable mispronuctiation of the word "city".

Photo of ElectricBoogaloo
4.28/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4

Made my way over to City Beer to pick up some non-MN offerings before I made my way out of town. A small establishment, but they shoehorn a lot of great craft beer into the space they have.
wasn't thrilled about the selection on tap, but it's the greatest thing ever to sit in a beer store and partake in the offerings. MN laws need to change soon. I had a sculpin on tap before starting to peruse the offerings.
They have a couple of coolers and a row of shelves with all craft offerings. glad to see a place survive that doesn't have to designate 1/2 of their space to the typical lagers.
Space definitely limits the selection here, but was good to see so many breweries represented, even if they only have room to put 3 or 4 offerings from each on their shelves.
The woman working when I stopped in was very patient of my slow inspection of all their offerings. she was also very helpful about the selection, making some recommendations and answering questions about what was available.

Definitely a must if you are ever in the SF area.

Photo of JoeySchlitz
4.53/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5

Craig and Beth run an outstanding establishment here.

One of the best selections of beer in the bay area and a great selection of rotating taps. I've been going here since they opened and although the clientele have changed (towards younger and younger beer geeks) they have remained steadfast in their dedication towards quality beer and spreading the word.

Special events have gotten a bit more crowded recently, but that's expected with the increased attention towards great beer. Try stopping buy mid-week afternoon for the best selection and good conversation with the proprietors on the latest beer to hit the chalk board.

Keep up the good work guys and congrats!

Photo of bradybeer
4.3/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Fourth stop on the SF tour. Located in the middle of a somewhat blighted area of the city. Walking down a few steps brings you to the bar ahead and coolers to the right and towards the rear. There are a few tables and chairs. On tap when we were there yesterday were 1) Pale Ale from Auburn Alehouse, 2) Racer X from Bear Republic, 3) Sai-Tea (sic) from DFH, 4) Saisson from Stillwater, 5) Pliny from RR, 6) Serpent's Stout from Lost Abbey.

I had the Saisson which was somewhat disappointing I found it to carbonated but I still enjoyed it. Their strength is what is on tap which changes often, very often, and european craft beers-especially Dutch and Belgian beers. I though the US Microbrew selection was somewhat weak but still good enough to find something you haven't had. I picked up four Emmalise (sic) beers from the netherlands.

You can buy a bottle and for a buck drink it there. I found their prices to be good. FW $14 $21.00.

A must stop place when in the city.

Photo of jjansen
4.15/5  rDev -7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

This is a true gem of a place. The beer selection is phenomenal and the chilled beer selection (for those of you paying the very reasonable $1 corkage/opening fee) is diverse and well thought out. The rotating taps are always top-notch and the staff (typically the owner and/or his wife/gf) is incredibly approachable and helpful.

Pricing is a bit higher than what you can find in the area but well worth it for the knowledge and guidance of the staff.

My only complaint is that the web presence is in need of some love and the responsiveness to email is relatively poor. if you're looking for "rare" beer there are places like Healthy Spirits which are a bit more responsive (note: they are also more expensive).

I live right around the corner from this place and to me it is a place I really look forward to visiting any time I get the chance. Give these guys a shot; you will be hooked.

Photo of moz9
4.36/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Went here on a weekday afternoon. Visiting from the east coast, I was really looking forward to some good west coast selection. This place does not disappoint.

They had five taps, alll great selections. I went with Abyss, and it was served in a nice goblet. They will let you drink any of the bottled beers on premise for an additional $1 fee. Pretty good deal.

Their selection is outstanding. I left wishing I had purchased more bottles. They have two sections with bottles, refrigerated and non refrigerated.

The staff was amazingly nice and helpful. This is a must stop if you are visiting San Francisco.

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.64/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Had some time to kill in SoMa on a Wednesday afternoon, so I decided to cruise over to City Beer Store. This was my first time visiting.

As you've probably heard, City Beer Store is very small. I'd guess that the max occupancy is right around 25. That said, the store makes excellent use of its space. High end craft beers occupy most of the wall space, and about a third of the selection is kept chilled in wall coolers. The bar area is tiny, but because of that there's a little extra space for tables (2) and chairs (6). I must say, it's pretty cute.

The beer selection is not cute; it is very large and very serious. It was loaded with imperial stouts, sours, lambics, imperial IPAs, and bourbon barrel-aged ales. I didn't spot a whole lot of pilsners, pale ales, bitters, or other "easier" beers. When I talked to the owner, he made it clear that he was catering to a very specific crowd: us.

All of the prices at CBC were reasonable, and the staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. I'll be stopping by next time I'm in the city.

Photo of kaseydad
4.43/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Stopped by here after many positive reviews from the community. Didn't realize how close it was to the freeway and that is an automatic plus. Found parking a little bit down the block so it starts well.

You can almost pass by this place if your not looking. One way street so be sure you are on the left side of the street and looking for a space. I walked down to the store and was met with a sweet rather dark place with a nice vibe. Peeps were already enjoying a beverage in the four tables with chairs at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday. Excellent. One women was working the counter and pretty busy but that was ok as I perused the four coolers with shelves stocking the overage.

Th coolers had an array of nice beers from Stone, Sierra Nevada, Alesmith and a number of Belgians. There were also beers on tap though I did not participate since I had a ways to go to the East Bay. I bought two Lukcy Basartds ($6.29) since I had yet to see it in the East Bay and the woman behind the counter was attentive and eager to help. I didn't try any food as I was in a slight rush (wife and kid in car) but I would have ventured if I was flying solo on this mission.

Overall this place had a way layed back cool vibe. There is a sign posted saying they will crack any beer open for $1 extra. They also have a cabinet full of appropriate glassware to accompany the brew. It's very clean though parking could potentially be a problem. A very nice selection of brews to be had and if someone came in and couldn't decide...that's their problem.

I will definitely be back to enjoy a beverage on premise and would encourage all others to give them a shot. Definitely worth the find.

Photo of pjwilson
5/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

What's to say?

This is every beer nerds dream store they wished they opened and this guy did it. Where else you can drink beer while you shop for beer? I've never been anywhere else that you can. I don't know why more places aren't like this.

You walk in, choose one of the six amazing taps and then shop for all the rarest, hard to find amazing beers. Grab another beer and mingle with your newest friends. There's no way you can leave without picking up a few things. No way.

Prices totally on point for the beer. You almost don't notice it's in a postage stamp sized space in a SOMA basement. Makes it cozy.

Photo of caskstrength
4.94/5  rDev +10.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

For those seeking out west coast beer destinations, this is on the short list.

The top west coast offerings available. Good turnover, so the beer is fresh. IPAs in the fridge. Selection is insane.

Hole in the wall type place, so if you're looking for "the scene" this isn't where you go.

I've never been to a beer store that has an in store tasting bar with awesome selections on tap and lets me pick any beer off the shelves and drink it there for a one dollar "corking fee".

Just to give some details: Had 5 oz draft pour of Black Xantus (really good actually) while browsing the cooler/shelves. Then had them open a bottle of fresh Green Flash WCIPA for me. Drank that while looking for my next beer, which was a bomber of Sculpin IPA (black label) which I then finished. Picked up some Older Viscosity, Deliverance, Xantus, for the cellar and called it a night. (came back later for fresh Pliny and Russian River sours)

As good as it gets.

Photo of BigB415
4.74/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Other then the size of this place it is a great place to stop by when you're in the city. When it gets busy it can be tough to move around comfortably and browse the selection since the store is pretty small. First time I went in I managed to pick up about 7 bottles and I got the first 6 with a 10% discount. They let you mix a six which is nice so you can get some 12oz and 22 oz bottles. The lady working there was very very nice and answered every question I had. They can special order beer for you but not everything which is sad but oh well. It's still a great place to stop by when you want to pick up something new. I have one complaint...parking can be very tough to find! there is free street parking on folsom but if you're not lucky you will have to park around the corner but make sure you bring change for the meter!

Photo of djmichaelk
4.54/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I'm probably not going to say anything here that others haven't mentioned before, but thought I'd add my voice to the many that praise this fantastic place.

A - I love coming here. I'm reasonably outgoing, but I can honestly say that every single time I walk in and have a glass of something and browse for five minutes, I end up engaged in conversation with someone else who loves beer. I've gone in several times with the express intention of just grabbing a few bottles and walking out, and ended up staying for two hours drinking and chatting with others there.

Q - It's a somewhat small store, and the stock seems to move pretty rapidly. Two coolers hold about half of the visible inventory, and the remainder is on shelves in the back of the store. Five or six taps have a rotating group of nicely-varied beers. One odd thing -- Pliny sits on an unrefrigerated shelf. I'm assuming this is due to how quickly it moves, but it just stuck out to me given that we've all heard about how much of a stickler Vinnie is about refrigeration.

S - Service is another top-notch aspect of City Beer. Craig and Beth (I've never dealt with anyone else so not sure if anyone else works there) don't know me from Adam, and they've never been anything other than extremely nice, welcoming, and warm when I've been there. They do a great job of juggling when the place is full, and I've never felt ignored. And they know their beer.

S - Most of the usual west coast suspects are here, of course. But then there's also a pretty unique blend of beers from around the world. And it never hurts that you can find fresh Pliny here pretty much any time, not to mention most of the rest of the RR line. I've heard people complain about it being too small, but if it was bigger too much of the stock would sit.

F - I've not tried the food, but people I've seen having the cheese plates seem very happy. And it's nice to be able to have something else in your stomach while drinking.

V - Prices are definitely competitive. A dollar higher or lower on some, but overall they're right in line with others in the area.

O - Probably my favorite place to visit in SF. Every single time I'm in the city -- unless it's a Monday -- I'm in there. Like visiting my friend's living room. Except the beer's better.

Photo of count321
4.31/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

The best beer selection in San Francisco? Possibly. The shelves are lined with a creative assortment of beers from the mainstream to the unheard-of. The to-go pricing makes it easy to gather quite an armful of rarities to stock my fridge. You can enjoy you bottle selections there for a "corkage" fee.

The tap selection is limited to only a few, but they are always something you've never heard of and need to try.

Why do I always try to go here on Monday? They are closed on Mondays. Lame.

Photo of d0ggnate
4.3/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Update 9/26/10 - I just returned from another weekend in San Francisco and City Beer is one of the first places I am sure to stop each time. Not only is their selection impressive, but their prices remain extremely reasonable in a city where prices sometimes escalate for little to no reason (that I am aware of). Of the three days I was in SF, we stopped by City Beer each day for at least a beer. It was nice to work our way through a few Midnight Sun beers, as well as a few others not available to us here in San Diego. There was also a hidden gem or two on the shelves. You just had to look for the right things. City Beer should be at the top of your list, whether you're looking for beer to take home or just a place for a few drinks. Great service and a fun place to hang out.

I visited City Beer Store on a recent trip to the Bay. This place is stocked, and overstocked with the beer from local offerings, hard to find brews, and interesting beers from around the world. I was fortunate enough to have just enough room in my suitcase for a few more bottles. The prices were competitive and I was suprised by this due to the obscurity of some of their product. The tasting bar also offered 6 choice beers on tap for you to sip while you peruse the shelves. It was also awesome to be able to pay a small corkage fee and enjoy a bottle right there in the shop. I would be in this place way to often if I lived anywhere near it. I think the only negative, IMO, is the size. It might not even be a negative, more just that I wish they were larger and had even more beer, but it felt like they would have more than they actually did.

Photo of nataku00
4.28/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I stop by City Beer Store in SOMA in SF every now and then to see if they have interesting beers on tap and new bottles. They are primarily a store, with a decent selection of beer, with many domestic offerings that are distributed to northern California, many different Belgian beers, and some German selections as well.

There was only a single bartender/cashier handling all requests for beer and to go sales this time, but there are usually two people around to help customers.

They have six rotating taps that are listed in their webpage, updated fairly frequently, and for decent prices for decent sized pours.

They only sell a cheese/salameto plate served with bread as a snack as food, but they do allow you to bring in food from outside.

Their bottle prices tend toward the high side, being 1-3 bucks more expensive than chain stores/supermarkets in the area that sell many of the same beers. However, they have a far more extensive selection of rarer beers.

Photo of alpineclimber
4.7/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I stopped by here to pick up some bottles on a recent visit to San Fran. Beth one of the store owners was very inviting. There were a handful of people in there and you could tell these people were all very passionate about beer. One gentleman by the name of Chris came over and talked to us for a while, what a great place, where beer geeks can be beer geeks. I dropped over a hundred dollars on some bottles with the help of Beth, who knows her beer. Great place that I will be revisiting on a return trip.

Photo of BeerAbbey
4.72/5  rDev +5.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Excellent spot if you truly appreciate great beer and an awesome selection. I am a regular at City Beer Store and find that the Pliny is always $4.49 a bottle (some reviewers are saying it's $1 more than Whole Foods, but those people obviously haven't shopped either place).

City Beer is fairly priced and is really right in the middle. Other bottle shops are either much higher or they have really old products at super low prices.

Beth & Craig, the owners, really put themselves out there and are easily accessible. They are extremely knowledgeable on the products and what is happening at the breweries.

it's an awesome spot to steal away an afternoon and sip on some outstanding yummy beers. beware, it is small and becomes crowded fast at night. it is very industrial and first and foremost for expectations of those who've never been...it is a real beer store. Nothing flashy or fancy about it. Just excellent beer to be had by all!
cheers

Photo of whiskeysoda
4.8/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

A cozy little gem in the middle of a (relatively) bustling city. Warm, friendly service and a fantastic selection of sours and aged beers on their wood racks in the back, with IPAs and other more temp-sensitive brews respectfully stored on display in the refrigerators out front.

Can't find something? Ask! They might have it in the back.

I can't imagine a better afternoon than winding down here, buying a couple of bottles and opening one up (or trying one of their taps!) right there while enjoying a fresh artisan cheese place.

We need one of these in LA. Damn city laws!!

Photo of teamizm
4.45/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

City Beer Store was the first of the new wave of bottle shops/tasting rooms that seem to be slowly popping up in Northern California.

The location is great because its about a 10 minute walk off the Civic Center BART station and parking is generally fairly easy in this part of SoMa.

They have a pretty good selection and Craig does a good job of trying to keep most of the IPAs in the fridge. You'll generally find Pliny, RR sours, and a few others that may be hard to find regularly elsewhere always in stock.

I've been going to CBS fairly regularly and know Craig and Beth (the husband and wife owners) by name, so I have always received awesome service.

Prices are a little higher. I often try to get my Pliny fix from the Whole Foods in Potrero or SoMa because it tends to be a buck cheaper. As was said previously, they own (or I believe Craig's family does) there own distribution company, so they pretty much can dictate prices on certain beers and they tend to get first dibs on things before places like Healthy Spirits.

Tap list is usually always pretty good. The release events are always fun. You usually get an allocation based on tickets and once they run our of tickets, they don't sell anymore of the beers.

I really like the cheese, meat, and bread plates there. Especially becaue I love Acme bread and Cowgirl Creamery cheese.

It's definitely a must visit if you plan on buying bottles and you're in the City for a short period of time.

Photo of Arbitrator
4.13/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2

I live quite a ways from the city, and I hate the hassle of finding parking, so I don't shop here as often as I would like. It's too bad, because this is one place where I'd like to establish a relationship as a regular.

This is a combined bottle shop / taproom.

The selection is quite wide. Four coolers and a couple of room-temperature shelves. Consistently fresh product (Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig are always refrigerated, with the most recent bottling dates). Lost Abbey, Oskar Blues, Avery, FiftyFifty, JW Lees, AleSmith, The Bruery, Ballast Point -- these beers are consistently found here.

Prices for new beers are a little higher than Monument or Bottle Barn, but this is smack in the SoMa district. They don't really offset their prices by selling high-margin stuff like BMC. So I understand.

But I don't like their vintage pricing strategy, which is aggressive. They'll hold back a case or two of stuff like Cascade sours, Russian River sours, etc. for a few months and then charge $10 more than the original retail price. Most recently, I found it a slap in the face when they sold the re-release of FiftyFifty Eclipse (Pappy van Winkle) for $60 a bomber. Since they own their distribution company, I guess they have us by the balls on those exclusive releases. Sigh.

A nice tap lineup, usually accompanying a release of some sort.

Don't come here looking for deals; however, if you're in the city, this is by far the best bottle shop in San Francisco. I never fail to walk out with something.

Photo of hooliganlife
4.34/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Upon walking in, I was expecting this to be a bit bigger however the space is used for their massive selection. A small fraction are in a cooler while the rest sit on a massive shelf. Lots of Belgian ales, Russian river, lost abbey, cascade, etc... Not so much your regulars, but more the higher end releases. I was never asked for help but when I asked a few questions, I had no issues getting the answers. I hope to return for sure. The prices seemed toss pretty much the same as other places with similar selections.

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City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
99 out of 100 based on 271 ratings.