City Beer Store

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

284 Ratings
Ratings: 284
Reviews: 185
rAvg: 4.47
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 

Notes:
Place added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-08-2006

No notes at this time.
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 284 | Reviews: 185
Photo of Normrdz
2.73/5  rDev -38.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 2

Got there on monday...Closed! I peeked in the window and said ok there must be more of the store that I'm not seeing here. Went back on tues. walked in and
thought...hmmm wheres the beer? Very small place with not much selection, at least not what I'm used to seeing. Thought to myself, dam I've got more beer in my cellar right now. Owner was friendly we chatted for a few as I looked over the beers. I really thought this place was going to be alot better after reading the reviews, kinda a let down. I really felt bad I couldn't find anything I really wanted to buy. small 3 seat bar with 3 or 4 taps. I didn't even check out what they had on tap. spent about 15 mins there and left.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.36/5  rDev -24.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5

City Beer Store is a beer store first and a bar second. Eight taps with tons of bottles for sale. Many of the bottles can be found in coolers and can be consumed on premise for a one dollar corking (capping?) fee.

The place itself is rather small with a couple tables and about five bar stools near the taps. The inside is clean and modern looking, but there were a good number of boxes strewn about.

I don't know how often they get special beers on-tap, but while I was there they had 08 Dissident flowing. The problem was actually getting the beer. Despite only a couple other people in there, I had to stand by the bar for what seemed like forever to get a pour while the bartender bullshitted with a brewery rep (multi-task anyone?).

The bottle selection was awesome, with plenty of RR and MS. I'm guessing they had at least 400 different bottles. I really wish I had a bigger suitecase.

The tap prices were significantly higher than Toronado, but the bottle prices were about average.

Despite the minor flaw, I'd definitely go there again and stock up on goodies.

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 Beerandraiderfan
3.46/5  rDev -22.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4

In a difficult location to find in SF, alleyways and whatnot, not apparent where it is from the front of the place. Inside, go down a few steps, its very small, some what looks like brewing equipment behind the bar area, and a very small area for bottles to the left of that stuff. Really, its about the size of a utility rental in the downtown area.

Found bottles of Damnation 23 and ffac here. Only the 23 was available to go, why, I have no idea. Kind of frustrating when you don't have the time and be part of the scene, and you'd just like to grab your beer and go.

Some decent options, but given the price and the location, I doubt I'll roll into this place again unless I happen to already be in the area. Frankly, Ledgers & Monument Liquors are better options unless you want to do some on premises drinking.

Photo of Torontoblue
3.66/5  rDev -18.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4

Visited 4th Feb 2012.

Nice little concept of bottle shop and tasting room. Great selection of taps were available when I visited. After waiting a while at the not busy bar (server thought changing music on the iPod was more important than serving beer, and then took orders from someone who arrived after me), I opted for the Heretic Evil Twin & Highwater Apholic BBL Baltic Porter (served way too cold). Prices were slightly on the high side, but still nice to have a beer whilst browsing the well stocked fridges and shelves.

Good selection of bottles for such a small place. All nicely presented and arranged in style. Again, prices were on the high side, for my liking and also compared with other bottle shops recently visited.

Photo of jaydoc
3.67/5  rDev -17.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5

Visited during the early afternoon on a Sunday. The selection was exceptional and layout was good. They were understaffed and were very slow with service. I heard several other customers complaining about this as well. They had a great vintage cooler selection, beers from which must be consumed on the premises. Other than the service the store was fantastic. I would revisit to give it a second chance.

Photo of MrFootstones
3.71/5  rDev -17%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Updated 8/16/2011

Atmosphere: Pretty small and cramped. As a drinking establishment, there is not much seating or room to enjoy your beer, and as a shopper, you have to squeeze through all the people standing around drinking.

Quality: The pours and glasses were correct on the tap, and there were some bottles refrigerated. There is a lot of beer on shelves as well, from floor to ceiling, and it gets really hot in there. Unfortunate. I am sure the turnover is decent in such a small place though.

Service: If you are helped by Craig, Beth, or Heather, you can expect a friendly smile and good recommendations and service. If one of the new guys is the person you talk to, you can expect a pretentious holier than thou attitude, and a scoff rather than an answer to your question. With Craig and Beth busy with the little one, I have been seeing new faces there and they have ruined my visits.

Selection: Good bottle selection and interesting quickly rotating small selection of taps.

Food: I know they have salami/cheese/bread plates, but I did not try any.

Value: It was a bit pricey, but they're in SF. What can you do.

I will still stop in when I am in the neighborhood, but I just don't enjoy this place like I used to.

Photo of Damian
3.75/5  rDev -16.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

I stopped by City Beers a few weeks ago on a visit to San Francisco. Knowing that the beer scene is the Bay Area is one of the best in the country, I was expecting a lot from this highly rated destination. Unfortunately, this was not exactly the case.

City Beers is located in a rejuvenated San Francisco neighborhood known as SOBO. The sleek, wrought iron exterior is similar in look and feel to the minimalist, modern interior. Since the whole "cash and carry" concept is not allowed in my part of the country (New England) I was amazed to find four tap handles and a mini-bar in this tiny beer shop. The beers were mostly Belgian-style offering but one was a vintage 2007 Deschutes Jubeale. Interesting, to say the least. A few leather armchairs and sleek-looking tables dotted the floor, where patrons sat and drank their beers.

As for the beers, the quality was very good but the selection could have been much better. There were two double door coolers filled with beer and four or five moderately sized shelves. Some of the better local selections included Russian River's Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig IPA, Temptation and Damnation, as well as variety of offerings from breweries such as Stone, Firestone Walker, Green Flash, Speakeasy, etc. Craft breweries from other parts of the country, including Dogfishead, Avery's and Deschutes, were each represented by a few beers. The selection of Belgians and Euros was also good, considering the size of the store.

As for the service, I had mixed feelings. The younger female "bartender" was quite friendly and welcoming when I walked in the store. She even offered me a sample of the Jubeale. The middle aged man (who also worked behind the bar) was quite rude however. Being a visitor to the area, I tried asking him a few beer-related questions but hardly got a response. Needless to say, I did not stick around to get that drink I was planning on.

City Beer Store is an okay beer store (sorry for the redundancy) but nothing to get too excited about. It it were not for the selection of Russian River beers or the beer store/beer bar concept, I would not be excited at all, in fact. Maybe I am spoiled by the plethora of mega liquor stores with terrific beer selections here on the East Coast.

Photo of NorCalYeti
3.78/5  rDev -15.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

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.

Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.88/5  rDev -13.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

So, I keep reading how great this place is from various folks, so on a recent trip down to SF and Monk's Kettle, I decided to trip by here to see if the fuss was warranted. I was disappointed. I was there about 5 years ago, and it struck me as a small basement with a couple of taps and a good selection of bottles for purchase. The way I've heard folks talk recently, you'd think they've expanded to be almost wharehouse size and have everything in the World. Heck, I've even heard them suggest that people vacationing in Sonoma and other parts of Wine Country make the "pilgrimage" to City Beer Store.

Folks, in a nutshell, there ain't nothing here you can't get at a good Whole Foods or Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa. Truth be told, many BevMo!'s probably have a comparable selection, and honestly it's overpriced. If you're ANYWHERE within travel distance of Santa Rosa, it would be a waste of your time to even contemplate going to City Beer store. You can get more stuff cheaper at Whole Foods + Bottle Barn and hit up RRB and get some food.

In my opinion as a local, City Beer Store is way over-hyped...

Photo of dvsbizzyb
3.88/5  rDev -13.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I came here the week before they had Parabola on tap! Wtf... I totally missed out. But they did tell us they were going to have it, so it was no hidden secret. Big ups for that. Big downs that I had to work.

Anyways, they had plenty of beer and some hard to find beers, but I just wasn't feeling the vibe here. Maybe they could add a little more space and a few more tables and close at a later hour it would help. I've noticed the hours and man... 9 o'clock and 6 o'clock...? wow! Hopefully next time I can get the full experience because the time we came they said everything was to go and that was at around 4 in the afternoon.

Photo of corby112
3.94/5  rDev -11.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

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.

Photo of Lothore
3.94/5  rDev -11.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Walked into City Beer and was a little disappointed at how small it was thinking that it couldn't possibly have a good selection being so small ... I was wrong. They had quite a few offerings however I was particularly happy with their selection of Russian river and pizza port brews. The owner seemed to be really friendly and attentive to any questions I had. If I had more time I would have enjoyed some beers on tap but it looked like the people who were drinking there were enjoying it. A top notch beer store that I will certainly return to.

Photo of AngusOg
3.97/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

Photo of washburnkid
4/5  rDev -10.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

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.

Photo of smakawhat
4/5  rDev -10.5%

A very unassuming store, but also serves beer with a full bar and a few bites to go with it.

The tap list is real impressive at times, with items from Russian River, Alpine, and other West coast classics.

Real nice organized store too. It's not a huge selection, but lots of West coast goodies, and even some decent foreign imports.

A great buying and drinking beer stop in the area.

Photo of mike312
4/5  rDev -10.5%

Fairly unimpressed considering all the hype. I was able to find a similar beer selection at a nearby Whole Foods (which was an amazing selection, mind you). Overall, compared to the likes of other dive bars with similar selection (Toronado, Zeitgeist, etc.) and Monk's Kettle, I was far from impressed.

Photo of litheum94
4.03/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

A very nice store that has some great selection. I live 45 minutes north, and they carry a bunch of stuff that my local bottle shop doesn't have. Definitely a good place to go for Belgians and sours.

Having beer on tap is something every bottle shop should have. They seem to have good selection; the two times I've been there, they've had some good beers on tap. I do wonder how up to date their online tap list is: both times I've been, I checked online, and when I got there, they had completely different beers on tap. Don't know if this is cause they go through kegs fast or are just slow to update.

This place is tiny. When it's busy, it's hard to find a place to sit or peruse the bottles.

Staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

A place to make a point to visit if you're in the area.

Photo of dirtylou
4.04/5  rDev -9.6%
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

Photo of jophish17
4.04/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

Photo of GJ40
4.06/5  rDev -9.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

An interesting combination of a beer bar and a beer store. I stopped in during a business trip to pick up a few local beers to take home.

The atmosphere is very comfortable. The store consists of a couple of refrigerated units and a large shelf area. The selection isn't huge but it's got a good mix and beers from the US and Europe. I was pleased to find Russian River's Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig. I had specifically been looking for Pliny.

The bar consists of a small bar and several tables. The crowd is pretty artsy and based on the beers being consumed, into their beer.

The woman behind the bar was very nice and quite helpful. The prices aren't cheap but I doubt much is in SF.

City Beer Store isn't in an attractive area and it doesn't have a huge selection but it's dedicated to good beer and for that, deserves a visit.

Photo of TxUltraRunner
4.06/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

Photo of bboven
4.09/5  rDev -8.5%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4

The building itself is kind of cold and impersonal with little in the way of decor. There are a couple of lonely looking tables and a cement floor and plain walls. This is the only bad part of this place.

The duo that run the store are husband and wife and serve three or four beers on tap in the store by special license. You can also buy a cold bottle and drink it there for $1 charge. Hey, they've got to pay the fridge bills. Kudos to them for having this setup, as they are the only store in CA with taps and a drink-in-house option. Very entrepreneurial.

Small but great selection of beers. I managed to blow $100 or so and not buy any doubles. There's great conversation to be had and it's definitely cool to be sipping an awesome micro while you're deciding how many bombers you can afford.

Photo of Rilesmiles
4.11/5  rDev -8.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Selection was smaller than I had expected, but definitely nothing to scoff at. Was able to find a few 'wants' that I can't get back home in Wisconsin, but nothing mind-blowing.

Vibe was cool, and the inclusion of a small tap room was a great bonus. Didn't stop for a beer but it looked well-managed.

Staff was friendly. A worthy stop, but not a destination in my opinion.

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.

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City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
99 out of 100 based on 284 ratings.