City Beer Store
Taps: 15 / Bottles: 300
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 215 | Reviews: 173 | Display Reviews Only:
4.44/5 rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$
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.
03-09-2009 18:36:07 | More by mjl21
4.3/5 rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
Made a return trip here last night after a long hiatus. Made the less than pleasant walk from the Civic Center Bart Station after dark down 6th street. My suggestion is use 7th or 8th street. A lot of sketchy looking people and what appeared to be criminal activity taking place on 6th.
The sign to the store is dimly lit and you could easily walk by the place and miss it. Inside is pretty tight cramped quarters as many reviews have noted. Nonetheless it is an inviting atmosphere and I did not mind the fact I had to stand for the first hour. There are a few tables and chairs if you are able to get there right when it opens. The service is excellent and friendly and Craig the proprietor was more than willing to answer questions and offer beer suggestions.
The place has 5 hard to find beers on tap and you can also purchase bottled beer which can be opened and drank on site which is a nice set up. The beer selection is above-average to excellent and has an emphasis on Belgian and California craftbrews. I was delighted to see some Alesmith products as they do not distribute to Northern California. The prices are what you would expect from San Francisco and lean more to the expensive side. I can purchase some of their beers for 2-3 dollars cheaper at my local beer store in the East Bay. Such is the nature of buying beer in San francisco
There appeared to be a cheese and cracker plate that could be purchased. I did not partake and enjoyed my liquid dinner of Chicory Stout, Telegraph Porter and Marin Brewing White Knuckle Double IPA.
I will definitely be back as it is a nice environment and has a host of beers that I cannot get elsewhere.
01-15-2009 04:41:06 | More by ipa247
4.94/5 rDev +11.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$$
CBS is a must stop for anyone visiting SF - and a regular haunt for all beer lovers in SF.
The store is relatively small, but jammed with all sorts of great beers. The highlight for me are the always rotating taps with some very hard to get beers showing up very regularly. Get a beer, browse, and chat with other beer lovers or the very friendly and knowledgeable owners. A very cool concept of bar/retail store.
As I have started going in more often, I notice that new beers come in often. There is a lot of turnover and a lot of great beers on the shelf. Even if you are not looking to by bottles, this is a great place to stop in and have a beer. Chances are great that there will be something on tap that you haven't had.
A must stop in SF. I highly recommend City Beer Store.
01-06-2009 00:08:00 | More by yeastsipper
4.8/5 rDev +8.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Great little beer store with a high quality selection and some well-used taps. I like City Beer quite a lot. My main complaint is that the space is too small for everything that's going on. They always have good to excellent beer on tap with the occasional rarity from a, usually, local brewery. The owner seems to have quite a few contacts in the craft beer world. I will admit that I don't love the service. It's not so much a problem with anyone who works there, but it's always been a bit too busy for me to ask questions. The place is halfway between a bar and a store, so there's an odd tension between serving drinks/talking about the tap beers and helping bottle customers. My other slight problem is the crowd tends to get a bit heavy on the yuppies, not really the store's fault so much as the city's. At times, it gets dangerously close to feeling like a wine bar, not really my favorite type of establishment. The selection is a tad on the small side, which is a function of the store size, but it's all high quality. You definitely see bottles, particularly from local breweries, here that you won't see anywhere else in the city. Of course, other stores (Healthy Spirits particularly for imports and Blackwell's occasionally) can make the same claim, but City Beer more likely has the hot California beers. Anyway, prices are a bit steep, only annoying when Whole Foods down the street carries some of the same bottles for fifty cents to a dollar cheaper, but I don't begrudge them that. It's expensive to run a store in this city. At any rate, they have a very nice little bar and a very nice selection of high quality beer.
12-26-2008 20:45:42 | More by popery
4.2/5 rDev -5.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
atmosphere was kind of iffy. it was my first visit today, and they are usually closed on mondays, so maybe they were not at there best, but there was paperwork laying around and stuffed into a microwave on the counter and generally looked a little unkempt.
that being said the quality of the beer they sell is impeccable. I enjoyed a nice St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from the tap as I browsed the shelves.
selection is relatively small but includes alot of things I was wanting to try, including a Baird selection and Russian River brews as well.
service was kind of good, but the girl was on the phone & doing invoices & pouring beers, and generally seemed too over-occupied to offer any real insights or recommendations. price was higher than competitive for the area, you definitely are paying a premium to shop here.
overall the littlest bit disappointing, but I will definitely be back to give them a second chance on a regular business day.
12-23-2008 03:43:01 | More by JoshuaCain
4.45/5 rDev +0.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
Craig and Beth have a great thing going for the SOMA folks and anyone else who loves beer in SF.
Though the atmosphere is fairly sparse and the place can get cramped during peak hours, selection is exceptional. You'll find 6 beers on tap at any time and hundreds of bottles to choose from.
This is the place to find those unique beers like barrel-aged Port Brewing/Drake's/Firestone Walker, Bear Republic X, and Black Albert.
Check their menu to see what's on tap and pay these folks a visit.
12-11-2008 23:44:03 | More by BrewerB
4.86/5 rDev +9.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $
Q: You know what really sucks about City Beer Store in SF?
A: Nothing, absolutely not a thing.
I have been in SF for a week for business and got a time for a break from convention fun on Saturday and ventured a cab thank to BA suggestions to this 'establishment'.
This was in the middle of a unique neighborhood, off the beaten path and a cool environment. The concierge at the hotel I was doing work at said I would need to cab and not walk- not a great neighborhood. Is he kidding? Has this guy been to Newark? This is not a 'bad' neighborhood- grow some balls my man.
One of the coolest places I've ever been. There is nothing not to like. To start, the girl/woman working there was one of the friendliest, helpful beer store people I've ever come across. She took the time to attend to any and all questions, was interested in talking beer.
Definitely seemed to have locals in there and took me about 30 minutes of browsing to notice that they actually had taps there. How great is that? I hope to get back there another day before I leave just to enjoy a pour and give the place some deserved business.
Great selection for an out of towner and plenty of great imports that would make it great as well for an in-towner. Picked up a few bottles to either have cold (ie Pliny) or to bring back (ie Hopsickle) among others.
This is a place that cares and that is what matters. The prices are well beyond reasonable. If I lived in SF, I would be honored to frequent this place. Keep up the advocating.
Didnt try, but I saw they had bread and cheese behind the counter. Textbook for homegrown beer house. Thanks again, wish I knew the name of the woman working because she really does deserve credit.
Next to Oak Tree back home, the finest beer store Ive ever been to.
12-07-2008 21:06:24 | More by marcpal
4.33/5 rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
This half-bar, half-beer store is in a surprisingly small location in an industrial store front. Has a cluttered look to the place, with all sorts of kegs and other beer related items scattered about, and the bartender kept some sort of business files in the microwave! I didn't ask what would happen if she turned it on. For me, this is great atmosphere.
The place had six rotating taps. The day I was there, they had The Abyss, Port's Gift of the Magi, Drake's Imperial Stout and IPA, E.J. Phair Wheat Beer and another one I couldn't recall.
While there were plenty of imports, they mostly specialized in California microbrews, many which are hard to find elsewhere. (If you want something like Longboard Lager, you can get that here, too.) The bartender knew her beer pretty well, and many locals and non-locals dropped in to pick up a few bottles of something they had been hunting around for, or had heard about. Many six packs were broken up and they are pretty willing to sell individual bottles. Roughly half the inventory was refrigerated.
I wish they had places like this in San Jose.
12-03-2008 03:59:04 | More by RunDWP
4.74/5 rDev +6.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
This is a neat little place selling only beer. It's a great place to go for trying new beers or finding good-quality, harder-to-find beers, but can be unpreditable and is not a place to buy large quantities of beer.
It has a few on tap but mostly sells bottles to drink there or take away. It is not big, but it has a very good selection of Belgian beers, some other harder-to-find imports I have seen only there or rarely anywhere else, and a pretty good selection of micro-brews particularly from California. The micro-brew selection is not large, but it seems to be strong in a small number of harder-to-find ones, particularly ones of good quality.
Aside from Belgian beers (which I can find in great variety many places), the import selection seems mixed. It gets some really hard-tofind beers such as Farson's Lacto stout and McAuslan beers, and has a few British and German beers that I have not found elsewhere. However, otherwise it is a bit weak on German, British, and especially Czech beers. I've found only a few German beers I could not get in Santa Rosa, and very few German or Czech ones, and only a few British beers at all. The website states that it carries, subject to limited availability, a wide range of great British beers, but they haven't been in stock when I've gone. I mostly wish they consistently carried a good British range such as that which they theoretically have, as it has now gotten to the point where every good beer store in the region, including my home town of Santa Rosa, has a varied selection of Belgian beers, but no-one has a really good, comparable selection of British, German, or Czech beers.
The service is very friendly, they encourage buying single bottles from 6-packs if you want to try something, and they give a discount for buying individual beers in a mix-and-match 6-pack.
One good point is that the beer selection is varied, seems to change a lot, giving greater variety over a period of time and making it possible to find some things impossible to find elsewhere. It also does focus on harder-tofind beers and uisually beers of higher quality. But, a downside is that you never know what they'll have and at any given moment they seem to have only a limited selection.
This is a must-stop place for beer fans when in San Francisco, but you just never know what or how much they will actually have.
11-21-2008 18:27:58 | More by Offa
4.44/5 rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Visited early evening on 10/25/08.
A - City Beer Store is a small, lowly-lit bottle shop in South Market on Folsom. The store itself is about 800 sq ft and has pub table and bar seating for about 12-15 people. The shelves have Belgian beer and 2 small refrigerators host other bottles as well. The bartenders are very friendly and the place has the vibe of being home-like.
Q - The taps house 5 changing taps of moderate to difficult to get beers priced between $4-$8 for 10 to 12 oz pours. They also offer plates of cheese and meats.
S - The bartenders are more than willing to discuss the different beers on tap or help you select a beer to take home.
S - The majority of beers are moderate to difficult to find. Of particular interest to me was the selection of Lost Abbey, Belgians, Port, and Russian River. Excellent selection that I cannot obtain in Suckramento.
F - N/A Did not sample.
V - Although the taps are expensive, you're paying to try beer you cannot obtain at the majority of other places. The bottle prices are very competitive considering that you cannot obtain them elsewhere. In fact, it was cheaper to buy a Russian River Damnation there versus Russian River (about $1 less).
10-27-2008 01:02:42 | More by MisterClean
City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
98 out of 100 based on 215 ratings.