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City Beer Store

Not Rated.
City Beer StoreCity Beer Store

188 Reviews
Reviews: 188
Visits: 305
Avg: 4.43
pDev: n/a
Taps: 15
Bottles: 300
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Store ]

1168 Folsom St
San Francisco, California, 94103-6027
United States
phone: (415) 503-1033

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Place added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-08-2006

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 188 | Visits: 305
Photo of Mulligan
4.94/5  rDev +11.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Awesome selection and knowledgeable staff. Prices are not cheap, but are what you'd expect for high-end beer. The store's layout is a little strange (i.e., half convenience store and half bar) and it feels a little more sterile than I'd like. But those are nits--this is my favorite beer place in SF.

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Photo of trumpetego
4.74/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Time for a five year update.

Since I first reviewed City Beer, they have expanded into the adjoining storefront and increased their tap list and on-premise presence.

City Beer continues to be a regular stop on my semi-annual visits to San Francisco. They always have a great selection of bottles and a well-curated draught list for me to imbibe from while I make my retail selections. My only qualm is that City Beer's selection is not, generally speaking, exhaustive: They are particular about which beers they carry from each brewery. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as they generally carry the best offerings from most of the breweries represented. However, if you're looking for a particular beer for a particular brewery City Beer might not be the place for you.

To summarize:
Atmosphere - Industrial. Utilitarian, no frills.
Quality - Excellent selection of beers, well-curated. Not everything under the sun.
Service - The store is now divided into on-premise and off-premise halfs. I've always had excellent service on both sides.
Selection - As I said above, I've always found great beers at City Beer. That said, I haven't always found what I'm looking for.
Value - Good. Many of the beers City Beer carries are difficult to find with any reliability elsewhere. However, some of the more common offerings (Sierra Nevada 6pks, Anchor 6pks, etc.) are $1-2 more than at other retail establishments in the city.


1/6/09 Review:

I always make it a point to stop by City Beer when I'm in town.
The atmosphere of the shop is nothing to write home about. It is a somewhat sterile looking storefront in SoMa and the walk there from the Civic Center BART/MUNI station is less than pleasant.
City Beer offers a wide selection of American and European beers. Their strongest representations are Belgians and, obviously, California microbrews. I don't mind this, as I go to places like City Beer for the CA beers (such as Russian River, Pizza Port, Drake's, etc.) I can't find in the Northeast.
Service is always exceptional. The people working there have always been helpful and more than happy to talk beer and make recommendations.
There is no food at City Beer, but they do have five or six rotating taps of primarily seasonal beers.
Prices are reasonable. This is not the cheapest place to buy beer in San Francisco, but it isn't outrageous.

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Photo of mikefuski17
4.64/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I made a trip from P to CA and made it into this place. It was awesome. Very cool vibe and atmosphere. The tap selection was awesome. Every tap on I have never had because it's not easy to get them. Same with the bottle shop in the same building. The selection was amazing. Tons of great beers to pick from. There is also a higher end bottle selection behind the bar. A handful of cantillion bottles and big damnations and temptations. The bar tender was cool as hell too be sat and talked beer, previous events, and the city(I was a tourist). Very cool place. Next time I'm in San Francisco, I will be making another stop here.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.6/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

This is a really cool place that is worth a visit for a pint but also worth a visit to see what the bottle shop might have. When I was there, there were a few solid bottles available but nothing overly rare or limited. I would guess that their inventory gets picked over pretty quickly given its location and the great tap list they have.

As for the bar area, it was really cool. Small place with a great atmosphere and friendly and knowledgeable service. There were about 10 taps but the quality was fantastic. Blind Pig, 2011 Supplication and Salvation were among the beers on tap when I was there.

Makes sure you stop here for a pint when you are in SF.

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Photo of TxUltraRunner
4.06/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 3

Stopped here after the Toronado and was pleasantly surprised they had the beer I came to buy, Almanac Reserve #3. Beautiful sour on tap. Seven of eight beers on tap. Bottle selection was a bit lacking but the help/suggestions was appreciated. About the same size as Toronado but cleaner and more modern. Had a special cooler but the bottles inside were on-premise consumption. Would like to have gotten an Abyss but I was alone and I knew after the Toranado I wouldn't be able to make it back to the hotel in one piece. Definitely go back next time I'm in the city.

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Photo of AngusOg
3.97/5  rDev -10.4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Visited on a Tuesday afternoon.

I liked the idea of the place. There's only one place i know of that's like this in my area, and that's more catered to wine. This is a hybrid bottle shop/beer bar. There's a bar with approx 10 taps (sorry i didn't count), and the choices seemed to be good. Alot of smaller breweries with limited distro, not alot of stuff i'd seen elsewhere around town. The other side is a bottle shop, where you can purchase for take out or take to the bar and pop right there to drink. Probably pretty standard stuff for No Cal bottle shops, but for an East Coaster, i was pretty amazed by the selection. There is also a a cooler with some really nice vintage bottles, but they are for on site consumption only. They are a bit pricey and i had to fight the urge the entire time not to buy anything.
The place had a chill vibe, at least on the afternoon i was there. It was the kind of place you could go to really talk beer, whether that be with the employees or the patrons that this place attracted. I had planned for another stop that day, but got "sucked in" drinking good beers and talking beer (and being close enough to the hotel i didn't have to bother with public transportation), so i stayed the whole afternooon. Nice place, will go back if i'm ever back in the area.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.04/5  rDev -8.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

For some reason I was expecting something much larger... ~10 taps, a few coolers and dry-shelves of to-go product and a goldmine cooler of vintage and out-of-network bottles for on-site consumption.

A little pricey on the taps, but while the bottle shop/bar hybrid may be huge in the NW, I understand there aren't too many peers in SF. Everything looked pretty well maintained - a few almanac bottles on the shelf, supplication, but not anything else of considerable rarity. I think this place gets picked over a bit.

Good spot, but dime a dozen in Portland/Seattle

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Photo of jophish17
4.04/5  rDev -8.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 1.75 | selection: 5

I've been to SF twice now, and missed out on City Beer Store the first time I was out there, so I was not going to miss it this most recent trip! This was actually one of several stops we had on a long walking tour of SF on a Saturday during Beer Week.

The store is unassuming from the outside - just another street-level retail space in a mixed-use development.. until you walk in. I love the exposed pipes and such, the sort of new industrial feel that place had. Tasting bar to the right, with the beer shop to the left. I browsed the store for a bit - to a beer nerd from the East Cost, this is unreal, with all of those breweries we love (Russian River, Midnight Sun, Deschutes, etc) yet we never see on shelves back home. It probably wasn't every single beer available from local distributors, but it sure was high in quality. It was a real treat. Needing time to think of what my haul would be (besides restricted, since I had to fly home), we sat down at the bar and enjoyed the SF Beer Week lineup on the taps. I started with an Obliteration IX - are you kidding me? As I sipped, I was in heaven. Enjoying a great beer from a great brewery in one of the best cities in America with my awesome girlfriend at my side. What could ruin THIS?

I finished my beer. I decided that I was on vacation, and that I was going to pony up some cash for some of the absurd bottles in the cooler. I waited for the bartender. I waited some more. Then, finally, roughly 20 minutes after I had finished by beer, the guy working the *store side* asked if we were waiting for a beer, and then he got the bartenders attention on our behalf. I don't remember his name, but if you read this - thank you, else we might still be waiting. I ordered a bottle of the Wanderer, which was delicious and I was able to share some with my gf and some of the people around us. But I couldn't help feeling at that point that I rather go somewhere else than to buy any more 50$+ bottles. So we left, I was disappointed and the girlfriend was a bit mad.

This could have been my favorite beer store in America. I probably would have walked away with a t shirt (love the little playtpus dude!) and beer had been totally happy. However, it takes service to be at the top, and on this day for us, the service was shitty, so we left with a sour taste that even overpowered one of the Bruery's finer efforts. What a bummer.

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

Come here every time I am in SF.

When you walk in, you are greeted by at least one employee almost immediately. I've been here both during the day and night and both times it was pretty hopping. The store itself is modern, clean, and well done. A great selection of beer for sale that you can open right after you purchase it at the bar, and an extensive bottle list that you are guaranteed to find something special on. As with everything in SF, it is a little pricey, but the quality of the place is worth it. Seek this place out.

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Photo of pisano
4.64/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I lived in SF for several years after grad school and I'm proud to say this is one of the establishments I used to frequent when I was first getting into craft beer. Craig and Beth are two of the kindest people you'll ever meet and they run one of the most outstanding beer stores I've ever visited. It's awesome to see the success they're having with City Beer and I hope this success only continues for them. If you're a craft beer lover and happen to be in SF at any point, this place is a must.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stopped in today after a trip to Marin BC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I visited CIty Beer during May 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final comments: It's worth fighting through the hoards of the living homeless to visit this lovely beer store.

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

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

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

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

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Photo of JosephThompson
4.56/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Visited on September 9 during my road trip of the States. The space isn't that large but they packed a nice sized selection into it, with options for a chilled or room temp version of the beer you want.

Seem to remember four five level racks along with six to eight coolers. It's a good spot because they don't overwhelm you with quantity of each beer like other places (usually there's one or two bottles of each beer constantly refilled when bought) so when you see the number of bottles it truly speaks to quality.

The bar seats roughly 10 with seating along the walls for another eight to 10. Tap selection was good and filled out from all across the country. Service on my visit was very good both from behind the bar and on the floor.

Picked up a Knee Deep Hoptologist and Logsdon Kili Wit. The former I know can be found around but not so much for an east coaster and the latter certainly can't be found on this side. Limited my bottles here because I spent the dollars on the taps instead but know that I left some goodies behind on the shelves.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev -2.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

I had another review of City Beer ready to go, but now that they've *finally* enlarged the premises to an appropriate size for a bar, I guess it's time for a new review.

There is a lot more space here now. No more sitting on planks placed on top of kegs or squeezing into the miniscule space of old. We've got more room to move, and more important than that, we've got a lot more taps to choose from. We're up to, what is it now, 10 or 12 taps? This works better than how there were 4 previously. I mean, sure Spuyten Duyvil had a minor amount of taps, but they also had atmosphere. City Beer was always lacking in the latter. It's a nicer setup now that doesn't scream urban functional. Service now seems mixed to me. One of the guys is a total asshole to me every time I come in now. I noticed the coolers behind the bar carrying some extremely rare and interesting beers. I asked if they were available for purchase to take-out. He went into some discourse about beer not being a commodity or some shit like that. Give me a break already. Here's a fact: you're a pretentious dipshit when you're preaching to your patrons and talking down to them. Go fuck yaself. Dick. All I want is to show up and drop some (hard earned) coin on some beers and enjoy my free time. But apparently some people don't give a shit about that. (Others are more chill and welcoming.) Bottom line is that with the new expansion, City Beer is looking better now than in its over-glorified days. Things are looking much more legitimately respectable.

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Photo of willandperry
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I have not actually been to this store, but I had a friend who was visiting the area, who agreed to visit this store and mule some beer for me. whenever my friend showed up, he called me, and long story short, this guy from the store(connor) talked to me on the phone and told me good beers they had and recommended many different types. I had many beers I was ISO and he was patient and answered all my questions for probably 10 mins.
Incredible service! I hope to visit in person one day, as it seems that they have some awesome beers that are only to be drunk on premise(cantillon, vintages).

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Photo of heymikew
4.36/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Best beer selection in San Francisco

This is the go-to place when you're looking for your craft favorite or even some hard to find or obscure beer. If they don't have it, they'll try to get it for you.

They recently expanded their space into the shop next door, doubling the size and increasing the number of taps. Increased popularity seems to have followed because it's even more crowded now than ever. Good for bellying up to the bar and getting into a serious beer conversation, but...

If you want to seriously shop, the best time to go is daytime mid-week.

Sometimes I miss the early days when it was just owner Craig and/or his wife Beth minding the shop when traffic was light and they could give you their undivided attention.

The now expanded staff is helpful and quite knowledgeable though.

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Photo of 2dogbrew
4.94/5  rDev +11.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

What a find - I didn't actually check the BA reviews on this place before I went there, but most are spot on. An excellent selection of beers - just got there when fresh Pliny the Elder was delivered. Bought a couple of beers to bring home and had an excellent draft. They have an amazing selection of bottles for consumption on premise, most are pricey as noted but almost all are hard to find. So worth it if you want to try.

Staff is very knowledgeable and friendly.

Not too busy when I was there, but it was 1pm on a Wednesday.

Highly recommended.

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Photo of WeedKing4
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Visited here a couple times while in the San Francisco area. This store was awesome. Fantastic bottle selection for you to buy and take home. They had some amazing beers in a different cooler that you had to drink there, which I had no problem with. They were a little pricey, but they were rare beers so I totally understand the prices with that. I bought a 750ml bottle of Russian River Temptation, batch 4. They also had beer on tap!! Great selection too. This store fucking rules. Wish I never had to leave.

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Photo of boltfan
4.94/5  rDev +11.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Stopped at this place on my vacation to SF last weekend. I loved being able to go to the bar and get a beer and walk around with a drink while I figured out what I wanted to buy. The guy working the bottle section of the shop was awesome. Very knowledgeable and friendly. They had a great selection including a decent variety of eclipse, mikkeller, 3 Fonteinen etc.

The only thing was that the beer at the bar was a little on the pricey side. I got a 5 or 6 oz tulip of bitches brew and my gf got a tulip of Stillwater Wine barrel aged Folklore Stout which I think came out to $20. Still loved the place tho. They also had some awesome rare bottles in the fridge behind the bar which were a little outside of what I wanted to spend. I really wanted to try the beatification but just couldn't spend the money on it. I believe it was around $60. Definitely worth the stop to anybody in the area.

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Photo of LeeMarvin
4.86/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

My main focus of an entire day was to try this beer venue, and I'm glad I did. They have an amazing selection with an atmosphere full of people who are at least aware of the craft beer movement and its importance. Half of it is a beer store and half of it's a bar, so how can you lose?

It only gets 4.5 for service because this place gets BUSY, even early in the afternoon, and for two people to manage this kind of OCD about beer is too much to ask of any beer service team. I arrived at 12:30pm and the place filled up fast after that. The sign of a great bar. The bartender himself was a beer advocate, and his knowledge of beers from throughout the nation and world qualified him as an expert on the subject. He was able to advise me on my next beer steps throughout the city and even gave me advice about biking in the area. I'll definitely be back.

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City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
98 out of 100 based on 188 ratings.