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City Beer Store

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

270 Ratings
Ratings: 270
Reviews: 182
rAvg: 4.47
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: 270 | Reviews: 182
Photo of kaseydad
4.43/5  rDev -0.9%
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 +11.9%
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 +10.5%
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%
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 +1.6%
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 -3.6%
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 -3.8%
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 -4.3%
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 +5.1%
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 +5.6%
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 +7.4%
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 -0.4%
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 -7.6%
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 -2.9%
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.

Photo of WOTO97
4.28/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Went twice last week for the first time since I've moved to the Bay Area. The atmosphere here really makes it for me. Very inviting, almost like walking into someone's kitchen. Really can't find anything to complain about in terms of the beers they have available on tap or by bottle. Really great stuff; between my two stops I had a Cantillon Classic Geuze, Avery 17, Little Sumpin', Back in Black. Service is really great; gets a bit slow once the place packs in but with only two behind the counter they do a great job. Craig and Beth do a great job stacking the shelves with interesting stuff. The cheeses they offer are really solid; however, I do wish they had a bit more to offer in the way of meats. For a bottle shop though, they definitely do it right. This place is lots of fun and an incredible time.

Photo of karait95
3.41/5  rDev -23.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

On my last trip to Oakland I was looking for a good place to get different beers and I found this one.

The space is not to big you can see some tables at the front, seams a good place for some talking.

You can get the beer in the back where are some shelves full of beers, also 3 or 4 big refrigerators with a lot of them.

There is a small bar with little space for consumers, there is one person helping with your selection, she tried the best to help me but with not very deep knowledge.

Even the selection was good I thought I would find more important beers, I mean the selection was good but not good enough.

Prices are average a long the US, the prices for consuming in the place are perceived as better than if you just take them to go.

Photo of woodychandler
4.22/5  rDev -5.6%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

From extensive notes dated, W, 29 July 2009.

First off, I loved that it was on Folsom, just up from Rausch! Johnny Cash plays Bamberg! Dude!

The entry was at the right end of a long windowfront and opened onto a set of steps leading down a half-flight. A couple of high, circular tables sat by the steps and window. A couple of armless leather chairs sat in front of the short wall created by the steps. Along the right wall was a three-door cooler filled (mostly) with bottles, fronted by a third, high circular table. Around a corner on the right side were a series of shelves for room-temperature bottles (remember, this was primarily a beer store). Along the left wall was a short bar with six rotating taps, followed by a second three-door cooler. One nice thing about all of that beer being in the coolers was that if you wanted to drink some there, they simply charged you a $1.00 corkage fee.

Now, a note on ambiance/aesthetics - this was the epitome of no-frills to include exposed cinder block walls, exposed piping and ducting and a concrete floor. I felt like the late-1980's, sitting in the late Jack Fleiner's garage at the foot of Bernal Heights (NOT to be confused with Outer Mission or Glen Park), drinking homemade wine with him and my Uncle Steve. Good times. R. I. P., Jack.

All of that said, it is the people that make a place and the young husband and wife team (Chris and Beth) were enthusiastic and energetic, plus they were getting a crowd of patrons who seemed extremely knowledgeable about beer. Definitely worth a visit!

Photo of Sammy
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Looks like a grocery store when you first pass by. I need parking if you want me to buy multi-bottles. Enter, and 2 coolers and several shelves of beer; a few tables, a small bar. What's on tap? Had to ask tap by tap, gave up quickly, as objective was to get several bottles for hotel room stay. Bout half the bottles were Belgians, Quebec beers I have had. The other half included some very hard-to-gets had had me drooling. Took the best of the lot, a small percentage of my wish list. Almost everything was sold out, the Net List being quickly out of date.

Photo of ericfb18
4.36/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Been wanting to stop into to City Beer Store for quite awhile...finally made it out on the West Coast to do so.

Selection was great, but a little pricey. This was one of my first stops so I didn't have much of a reference of what I should be paying for stuff like Russian River. Found most the RR beers at other liquor stores in and around the city for $3-5 cheaper. Regardless, still a great selection.

Had a great tap menu on while I was there...enjoyed an '08 Ten Fidy and a Midnight Sun Meltdown.

Owner is very friendly...spent a good time talking to him about beer venues in the area, his store, etc.

A must visit if you find yourself in SF...

Photo of beachbum1975
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

After multiple suggestions to check this place out, my wife and I had a few minutes to pop in.

Great selections of beer here. Port Brewing, LA, RR, New Belgium and Midnight Sun were the highlights for me to see. Great Belgian beers, as well.

The owner and his wife are great! They were super courteous, friendly and patient as we talked beer. Very knowledgeable.

The place is definitely "blink and miss it" and it's located in a very small basement setting, but check it out if you can! Very modest, but great beer choices (and 4 GREAT beers on tap)!

Recommended!

Photo of mikesgroove
4.88/5  rDev +9.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Fantastic store. I have order stuff from here several times and they are always the best when it comes to service. Kind and couteous and always willing to work with me. One of the best selections of beers I have ever come across and prices that seemed to be right about where they should be. Overall a pleasant expierence on every level possible. One of the best for sure.

Let us also not forget the fact that they keep one of the best tap lists on the planet! You really cannot go wrong here. Give them a show when in the area.

Photo of raoulduke37
4.56/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

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.

Photo of jdense
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 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.

Photo of carlhungas
4.8/5  rDev +7.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

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

Photo of somabeer
4.8/5  rDev +7.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

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.

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City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
99 out of 100 based on 270 ratings.