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City Beer Store

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

239 Ratings
Ratings: 239
Reviews: 178
rAvg: 4.45
pDev: 8.09%
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:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-08-2006)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 239 | Reviews: 178 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of raoulduke37
4.56/5  rDev +2.5%

The gem on Folsom St. There is a reason why this place gets mentioned in all the SF beer threads. Walking in, down the three little stairs, it looks like you're walking into the back room of an office, or even a storage unit, but stacked cases of Stone, Lagunitas, and Port tell a different story. I could not believe the amount of great beers they were able to cram into such a small space. While here, I picked up some De Dolle Export Stout, Lagunitas WTF, Gubna, Prima Pils, and JW Lee's Lagavulin. I could have gotten literally dozens of others. You won't see anything here less than top notch quality. The girl who was pouring drinks (the owner? Didn't catch her name...) did so with precision and into the appropriate glassware. Had an Allagash Curieux on tap and also sampled some of my own goodies in the store with only $1 surcharge. I simply love this place. I will never come to this city and not come here.

raoulduke37, Apr 17, 2010
Photo of jdense
4.3/5  rDev -3.4%

Visited during SFO beer tour 4.2.10.

A bit hard to find and off the beaten path, this is The City's premier beer store. Two two-window cases and about fifteen feet of high shelves feature a phalanx of high quality beers, nice variety of Belgians and Germans, with many small Northern California breweries featured. They also had six taps, including Russian River Porter, Oskar Old Double Bagger, and Moonlight Old Combine. Not a huge selection, but quite high quality. This is the place to get Pliny the Elder, they get about 5 cases a week, which should make Portland OR retailers extremely envious, and they had the full range of Russian River products available. A talk with the knowledgeable owner revealed a well thought-out business plan, keep it small with high quality. No food to speak of. Prices were a bit high, but about average for SFO standards. If you are looking for a couple of special bottles, or for any Russian River products, this is the place to visit in the city. Recommended.

jdense, Apr 04, 2010
Photo of carlhungas
4.8/5  rDev +7.9%

This place is the shit I love it thank you guys for making such a great spot to enjoy. Any way constantly changing tap handles some off the wall beers that you wont find any where else. GO CRAIG !!! It gets a little packed on thursday through sunday closed on monday. These folks know what they are talking about when it comes to beer and cheese and have even had some conversations about wine here too even though its not served here. Top of the line on my go to for S.F Only down is its not a place to hang out for a while kinda the vibe I feel is drink two beers and grab a few 750s for the road every thing is clold/room temp

carlhungas, Mar 24, 2010
Photo of somabeer
4.8/5  rDev +7.9%

This place is amazing. They work hard to bring in the best beers possible and it shows. The only place in SF with Cascade, Alpine and Midnight Sun. Craig and Beth are some of the sweetest people I have ever met and they have never steered me wrong on their suggestions. The five taps are always diverse and interesting but, the bottles is where this place shines. Always a fantastic selection available for here or to go and cold or dry. The prices are always reasonable and quite competitive. Come and show the love for a real beer drinker's place.

somabeer, Mar 04, 2010
Photo of kazmanbrew
4.81/5  rDev +8.1%

This place is fabulous. The bottle selection is fabulous. Beers from all over the country and world. You can select a bottle and enjoy on site for $1 more than pricetag, or choose from one of their 6 taps. I usually go for a draft, since they are always something unusual. The taps are a mix of seasonal or one-time beers from great craft brews, or classic belgians that you can't find elsewhere. I drink while I shop for beers to take home.

The folks behind the bar know their beer and the brewing industry. The folks sitting next to you also are pretty knowledgeable. If they didn't know beer, they wouldn't bother stopping here.

Enjoy.

kazmanbrew, Feb 16, 2010
Photo of billshmeinke
4.88/5  rDev +9.7%

So it's tiny. However, the bottle selection is AWESOME. The guy and gal that work there are extremely knowledgeable and friendly and love to chat. I had a Sea Monster by Ballast Point and I picked up a sculpin, both the bourbon and rye versions of eclipse, and a mikkeller beer geek breakfast stout. They also had Life and Limb as well as Limb and Life on tap. No beer on tap was more than $6. My friend Charles got a 2 year old Temptation. If you are in town or if you live in SF, you need to visit.

billshmeinke, Feb 10, 2010
Photo of womencantsail
4.3/5  rDev -3.4%

The store is a bit hard to find, so make sure you right down the address and pay attention to the buildings. Parking can also be a bit difficult, so just take the first spot you can find that's within a reasonable distance.

The store itself is rather tiny with plenty of coolers, boxes, and shelves full of beer. There's also a bar where there are several beers on tap and also some snacks available for purchase (like cheeses and crackers).

The prices vary quite a bit, with some things being quite reasonable (or even a good deal) and others being on the high side. I was primarily there to pick up bottles of 50/50 Imperial Eclipse, but I certainly took a look around.

The service was good, but not necessarily anything amazing. But, as I said, I mostly just picked up a few bottles.

There are some beers that are fairly difficult to find in CA, which I appreciated. They also had some vintage offerings which are nice, but you, of course, must be willing to pay the premium.

womencantsail, Feb 08, 2010
Photo of MikeBuff
4.33/5  rDev -2.7%

On a recent trip up to San Francisco from Orange County I had to check out City Beer just based upon the reviews here. I have to say what a great place, small but very welcoming. The small 4 seat bar they have seemed more of a formality but sitting at a table suited me more. It was 12 pm so we were the first ones in there sitting down but there was one person shopping for bottles and getting really great service. We didn't get the pleasure of the "hipsters and there body odor" but that would have rounded out the experience I'm sure :P. The selection was pretty balanced, with a good product knowledge or new or limited beers coming out. While we were there we had Ommegang Adoration, I had not seen this down by me so I had to get it. From there we had Mikkeller's Black Hole, both of these beers were served in tulip glasses. Again I went on a slow afternoon but it was a perfect enviroment for the start of our beer round.

MikeBuff, Feb 01, 2010
Photo of corby112
3.94/5  rDev -11.5%

This place came highly recommended by some local BAs so I made sure to stop by on my recent trip to the Bay Area.

The sign from the picture on here wasn't out so I drove and walked past this place. It's is surprisingly very, very small but they have a lot of room to sit at the counter and at various couches and tables set up. They have two coolers on the right when you walk in and two or three more to the right of the main counter. Opposite of these coolers there are about four shelves of room temperature bottles that are stacked to the ceiling.

This place is unlike any other bottle shop that I've been to in that it sells glasses of beer to drink while you shop or just to sit down and enjoy. It;s kind of like a mini bar inside of a bottle shop. A very unique idea that I wish I would see more of. They had about five different offerings on draft including Gouden Carulous Cuvee Van de Kaizer(one of my all time favorites) and four other decent craft selections.

Although the selection of this place was pretty small it was of high quality. They had some decent Belgians and vintage barleywines as well as alll of the year round AleSmith beers, Cascade Kriek, Cuvee de Tommee and Fresh bottles of Pliny for $4!

The woman working there was very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. I talked to her for a while about different beers and she gave me recommendations and answered all of my questions.

Although this place didn't have the best selection, the concept was really cool, the service was excellent and they had some nice CA rarities(at least to me). If I lived in the area I would probably be in there at least once a week. Recommended.

corby112, Jan 16, 2010
Photo of biggbossmanng
4.16/5  rDev -6.5%

I trekked down to to CityBeer one night after having dinner in Union Square. There's nothing like a walk through the Civic Center (which included a sheet covered corpse on the street) to build up some thirst. The store was at capacity when we arrived, with tables full and patrons sipping their brews in the small retail area. After checking the selection, I settled on the Mikkeller / Brew Dog collaboration Devine Rebel BarleyWine and a few familiar San Diego brews - Mission IPA and AleSmith Old Numbskull BarleyWine. While we took the beers to go, the staff kindly provided drinking water to satisfy our thirst, at least until we could get home to enjoy a little more...

biggbossmanng, Jan 07, 2010
Photo of flannelman808
4.31/5  rDev -3.1%

I love this place... It has a very cool vibe, like your at your buddies house (and does this not in its layout but just in the way you are treated). Very welcoming and a great value. Lots of rare beers to be had and 4 or 5 taps to boot. just so happened they had Allagash Interlude on while I was there...Sweet! I guess they have cheese and cured meats there as well though I did not partake in any. They carry some of the more rare Belgium and scottish beers (De Dolle and Mikkeller). Along with the hard to find brews made in the region (IE. Russian River). Brews were not overly expensive given there rarity. This place is worth a visit!

flannelman808, Nov 17, 2009
Photo of alfrantzell
4.28/5  rDev -3.8%

City Beer Store is a place to see and be seen, to drink and be drunk.

Ensconced in the trendy SOMA district, the space has an industrial basement motif. Think gray with accents of gunmetal. Cement is a recurring theme. But the piping on the ceiling is adorned with small peacocks. Proprietor Craig says they're a defense mechanism, but I think he just likes pretty things.

How many taps? It's difficult to say. Five or six. Definitely more than four. Even when the place is packed, Craig and Beth manage to be attentive to customers. Though their expediency is due in part to the draughts of beer they pull, which are limited to quantities ten ounces and under. How many bottles? Not sure. Every time I try to take inventory I end up drunk. Their event nights are all worth attending - it was here I tasted two vintages of Ommegang Rouge side-by-side, as well as the elusive -bal aged Papier.

You can also sample a wide variety of hipster body odor during peak hours. If that doesn't wet your whistle, consider visiting during the off-hours. When I say off-hours I mean hours that they're open, obviously. Not much point in going there when they're closed. Plenty of seating, but you won't be able to enter the premises. They're pretty good about keeping them locked.

alfrantzell, Nov 16, 2009
Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.64/5  rDev +4.3%

This is one of the best beer stores on the penisnsula. In terms of beer selection, it is comparable to Healthy Sprits, although I'd give Healthy Sprits a slight edge.

This place is great in that you can grab a beer out of the cooler and drink it for a $1 corkage fee. I don't know of any other place you can do that. It's not a large place, but so far I've always found a place to sit. The staff is very friendly.

The website is nice in that they list their beer selection, although it'd be even nicer if they listed prices like Healthy Spirits and K&L, and maybe if they had all their beers on a single page (rather than a separate page for each letter of the alphabet).

They have quite a number of top rated beers, and I enjoyed trying them right there, so if I liked it enough I could buy more to take home with me.

If you're into the hard to find top 100 beers, this is a very good spot (though for overall selection, my favorite in the Bay Area is Perry's in Livermore).

Falcon91Wolvrn03, Nov 14, 2009
Photo of nickd717
4.63/5  rDev +4%

Excellent place. I used to be a regular, but sadly I got tired of the 1 hour trek up there. Need to get back soon though. Always 5 or 6 interesting beers on tap. Also a huge bottle selection that is one of the absolute best in the area. Salami and cheese plates are great also, and Craig and Beth are awesome people that love to talk about beer. They also have great special events, but they're often on weeknights, so the fact that I live so far away means I usually have to miss them. Atmosphere is not the best - it's in a half-basement more or less and the lighting is a little odd at night. On the plus side though, it can feel sort of like you're in a beer cave, which is a nice feeling. Prices are a little high for the area, but not so much compared to other places in the city, and the $1 corkage fee is not a bad deal.

nickd717, Oct 19, 2009
Photo of Aenema
4.58/5  rDev +2.9%

This is a really nice shop that I will definitely make return visits to. You can purchase a nice variety of quality draft beers (6 on tap at a time) or drink your purchase at the store (there is a $1 corkage fee).

Atmosphere - I went on a Sunday afternoon and there was a decent crowd there, but unfortunately there is little seating, so you need to luck out to snag a table if you have a group (there are only 3-4 seats at the bar). Size is the biggest knock on this place.

Quality - Lots of great beer both bottled and on draft.

Service - Friendly/helpful service.

Selection - Wide array of good beer and some tough to find beers.

Value - I thought most of the prices were quite competitive/reasonable. Some very good bargains and some that were a bit much.

Definitely stop by this store/bar if you have the opportunity.

Aenema, Sep 17, 2009
Photo of gabeerfan
4.21/5  rDev -5.4%

I used to work less than a block away from this place, and I have to say the neighborhood has changed a lot. For the better.
I was surprised by how small the place was, and the decor is typical industrial chic with cases of beer littered around the space. They had 4 beers on tap while we were there, but didn't get to try them as we were driving to SoCal as soon as we were done there, so I didn't note what was available.
Service was quite good. I was wearing my UGA hat and the bartender/salesperson and I chatted about being from the south as she went to Auburn and her family lives in Atlanta. She helped us find the beer we came to get and gave us a few recommendations that we accepted.
Selection was quite good, they had most everything available in the Bay Area and a few beers from smaller breweries that would be difficult to find elsewhere.
Prices were pretty reasonable. We bought a bottle of Consecration for $23 and it was $25+tip at the Russian River brewpub. Everything seemed reasonable and in line with more "mainstream" stores.
A good stop to look for a hard to find beer.

gabeerfan, Aug 26, 2009
Photo of wd40
4.58/5  rDev +2.9%

I really liked this place. The owner was very nice and knowledgeable about the what he had and was not afraid to make some recommendations. While selection isn't vast, every beer in the store is worth trying. There are some real gems in the store that can be difficult to find. Seems to have the Russian River hook up. Will be going back here every chance I get!

The store has some limited seating area and 5 or 6 beers on tap. At the time I think they were serving Green Flash Quadruple, Firestone Double Jack, Stone 9th anniversary, Stone 11th anniversary and Stone 12th anniversary. There may have been another beer that I can't remember.

There are three fridges full of Russian River, Port, and Alesmith among others, and a two walls that meet at a corner full of beers from many other breweries. Finally, in the back, adjacent to the bar and room temperature beer are three more fridges with sours and other specialty beers.

Prices are very reasonable

wd40, Jul 19, 2009
Photo of NorCalYeti
3.78/5  rDev -15.1%

City Beer Store is located on the left (north) side of Folsom Street between 7th and 8th, take the Civic Center BART stop and walk a few blocks or find street parking on Folsom. When I arrived this morning, I thought the place was out of business because there are no window displays. The real reason for the confusion is the store sits below street level. The store opened promptly at 12:00 p.m. (Saturday) and I was greeted by Craig (owner) who welcomed me in. I told him it was my first time at the store and asked him for a description of the store layout which he promptly shared. He asked what style of beer I liked. Armed with some information from his website he was able to respond to my specific questions. In addition to their rotating six taps (primarily west coast beers), he will open any of the bottled beers you purchase for an additional dollar. The space is small with approximately 300 beers on hand, at least half on shelves with the others in cold storage. Didn't find as many gems as I had hoped but I did come away with some Elysian beers I haven't spotted in the East Bay and a hard to find Lost Abbey. Prices seemed reasonable and the selection is above average to the amateur. The space is crowded and includes a small tasting bar, a high bar table, and two low chairs with a table for your beers. Although the floor plan makes it awkward to shop for beer while others are sitting at the tables, it's a nice service. It's a decent spot to stop for a draught beer and be on your way. The owner said the best way to keep on top of their latest selections is to subscribe to their e-mail list.

NorCalYeti, Jun 20, 2009
Photo of BevMoPatrick1
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

Visited on 5/30/09. Five taps, had the 21st Amendment Black IPA. The service was great. The place is pretty small but the selection is very good. Good selections from RR, Ballast Point, Stone, and many other great California brews. Good selection of begians and english beers as well. The owner was busy with other customers but was good enough to talk beer when he had a free moment. Anytime I'm back in SF will hit this place up. If your in the city, check it out, prices are fair and its a very relaxed environment.

BevMoPatrick1, Jun 06, 2009
Photo of washburnkid
4/5  rDev -10.1%

Went to SF to do some research/writing, and I decided to hit this place up before I had to head back home. Got off at Civic Center BART and walked a couple short blocks.

There were tons of people. Everyone sitting at tables stopped to watch you as you walked in, and the set-up was a little awkward. But it was a small space and the owners were working with what they had (a ton of beer). Two coolers of beer, and two tall shelves all packed with options, both domestic and import crafts. I was especially excited about the beers I bought from Alesmith, Ballast Point, HotD, and Stone. I was looking forward to having a beer or two while I was there, but there were just too many people and no places to relax. I would definitely go back to both buy more brews and enjoy some on premise, though maybe not on a Saturday.

One note about the service: No one offered to help me out, but it didn't bother me too much since there were plenty of other folks that the two employees (owners?) were probably dealing with. I would surely enjoy a conversation with them, so I look forward to going again.

washburnkid, May 24, 2009
Photo of NikkiMacBrain
4.72/5  rDev +6.1%

I was in town last week for my friend's wedding and this was one of the stops I wanted to make. A close walk from the Civic Center BART. Nothing fancy, just a plain floor with a couple tables and the bar. Cool selection of cold and warm bottles, any of which can be opened on-premises for a buck extra. Six taps, mainly local stuff but I was happy to see DFH 90 on. I had a Lost Abbey Carnevale and Iron Springs Witbier.

Craig was top-notch as far as customer service goes. Awesome guy who was very helpful to this out-of-towner. A bit pricey but it's the city, so I can't fault that.

If I lived in SF I'd definitely become a regular. Check out this little gem and do what you can to support this excellent small business

NikkiMacBrain, Apr 28, 2009
Photo of photomike
4.74/5  rDev +6.5%

This place is an absolute must-stop for any beer fan visiting San Francisco.

A tiny spot, the walls are lined with a really top notch selection of beers, both domestic and imported. Best selection of Russian River brews I've seen, and all the stock is very fresh and well-maintained. I actually got a bottle of Pliny the Elder last night that was bottled 3 days ago.

Respectable rotating taps for 4 or 5 bucks per fill, and a staff that is as knowledgeable as it is friendly.

The ambiance is really nice here, well lit, and everyone seems to be friendly. The size of the place is a big downside though, there isn't much seating, and if you are trying to bottle-shop while people are drinking, it can be problematic.

Prices are very slightly on the high side, but for the most part, the prices are reasonable. I frequently find great deals here. At City Beer, you know you are getting a quality product, and I never feel uncomfortable with the prices.

photomike, Apr 11, 2009
Photo of braddo
4.8/5  rDev +7.9%

Amazingly great concept. Every city needs a City Beer Store!! Part store and part bar. Pull a beer off the shelf and drink in the store. Also have a couple taps set up. $5 per pull. Owners have great beer knowledge. Again, great concept. I wish more states would allow stores like this.

Sampled:
Oro de Calabaza - Sour Bier de Garde (Draught) - Love the sour apple taste. Very refreshing. One of my favorite Bier de Garde's.

Telegraph Robust Ale - Belgium IPA (Draught) - Full bodied and well balanced beer. Very complex nose.

http://www.burrstreetbrewblog.com/2009/03/san-francisco-beer-week.html

braddo, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of jwolfie70
4.74/5  rDev +6.5%

City Beer Store is a must stop for Bay Area BAs. While it does not look like much at first glance (i.e. it looks like someone's basement with some beer shelves), Craig and Beth have a wonderful store. It usually has the best selection of beers in the bay area, and the owners are always willing to take the time to point you in the right direction. They have a handful of great taps and some great cheese selections, but other than that is a beer store. I would, and have, recommended this store to all BAs.

jwolfie70, Apr 01, 2009
Photo of mjl21
4.44/5  rDev -0.2%

City Beer Store is a great ***little*** beer shop located south of Market in the City. The first time I went there was right after they opened and I remember driving around the block a few times as I saw no signage. Luckily they now have a sandwich baord sign on the street. They are located in an area where there is plenty of street parking, both hourly and metered.

When you walk into the space you go down a small flight of stairs. To your right are a few coolers with tons of beer. Some rare in these parts (Alesmith), some not (Racer 5). There are a few tall tables where people are drinking beers from their 6 taps or from a bottle that they purchased at the store ($1.00 corkage). There are a few shelves lined from top to bottom with beers from all over and there are a few other coolers in the back that have a lot of good stuff.

The bar area has a few stools. The drink menu is on a little clipboard and they give a nice description of each beer. If you want to have a drink while shopping they serve in 5 and 10 ounce glasses. The beer selection is always rotating and they usually have offerings that you don't see outside of the Toronado or the respective brewpub. They frequently update their tap list on their site. They also serve cheese plates if you feel like eating.

The beer selection is good. They carry the harder to find NorCal beers and do a good job of bringing in brands like Alesmith to increase their offerings. They have a ton of beers from around the world. Since the store is on the small size I have found the turnover of beers to be quite good. This is one of the few places that I will buy IPAs with no best by date. Due to the store's popularity they do tend to run out of the popular offerings quickly.

The prices are a little higher than some of my East Bay hunts, but when you factor in rent it is understandable.

The owners, Craig and Beth, are both extremely amiable and know their stuff.

mjl21, Mar 09, 2009
City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
98 out of 100 based on 239 ratings.