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City Beer Store

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

238 Ratings
Ratings: 238
Reviews: 177
rAvg: 4.45
pDev: 8.09%
Taps: 15
Bottles: 300
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Store ]

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

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-08-2006)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 238 | Reviews: 177 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of woodychandler
4.22/5  rDev -5.2%

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!

woodychandler, Jun 24, 2010
Photo of Billolick
4.33/5  rDev -2.7%

Not far from the SF baseball park on the south side of downtown. Also just a few blocks from where you get onto the Bay Bridge, which is why we ended up checking this place out several times before heading to Berkeley to rest after eventful days visiting the city by the bay.

Just a step or two down from street level, this classy, and quality small place packs a beer punch with a few smaller cooler units and shelving stretching and bending along a few walls and corners. About 6 quality taps, cheese plates, extensive and well picked quality selections, including plenty of local, regional and national heavy weights and favorites. Pleasant to visit for a pint or two or to pick up a some quality bottles. I wish all towns had a place like this enjoy and feel the respect of beer in full force.

Billolick, Sep 22, 2011
Photo of DoubleJ
4.3/5  rDev -3.4%

All this talk about City Beer Store has me interested. Let's take a look inside;

It feels almost like a small cave, shielded away from the sunlight and the city. The interior is very simple; there's a small tasting bar pouring six beers from tap, several coolers off to one side, and another section of bottles stored at room temp. A few high tables are scattered around. Even in the middle of the afternoon, there were a couple groups of people drinking and one person taking notes of the beer he was drinking at the bar.

I would have loved to stick around for a glass of Mortification, but time was not on my side if I wanted to check out other places. The bottle selection is very good, beers like Kern River, Lost Abbey, Cascade, AleSmith, tons of Russian River and two day old Pliny. Many of the Belgians beers and six-packs sit at room temp. All the bottles are well marked with pricetags, a plus in my book.

Did it live to the hype? That's a tough call. City Beer Store is worth being talked because, well, it's a beer store with a lot of quality beer. And you can drink on premise, a bonus! Just don't let Tuong Lu Kim, owner of South Park's "City Wok", anywhere near, or risk the inevitable mispronuctiation of the word "city".

DoubleJ, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of Sammy
4.4/5  rDev -1.1%

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.

Sammy, May 28, 2010
Photo of mikesgroove
4.88/5  rDev +9.7%

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.

mikesgroove, May 01, 2010
Photo of GJ40
4.06/5  rDev -8.8%

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.

GJ40, Oct 09, 2008
Photo of dirtylou
4.04/5  rDev -9.2%

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

dirtylou, Jun 30, 2013
Photo of yemenmocha
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

One of the best stops in San Francisco. Not too bad as far as bus routes and a little walking. Nice underground-like location. Good range of beers here in this intimate little bottle shop. A few tables exist for drinking on premises, but they can easily be entirely occupied on a busy night. You can choose from a few excellent draft options or just go with the bottles, and the bottled selections were all of the stuff that a craft beer enthusiast would covet.

Staff was knowledgeable and friendly. Decent restrooms too. Loved the small business vibe, with owners that actually work in the store. That's so rare these days.

yemenmocha, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of francisweizen
4.75/5  rDev +6.7%

This is my #1 spot for beer in the city, hands down, i've known Craig since he opened this place last year and in all honesty, it just keeps getting better and better...The atmosphere is great, nuevo-chic with a nice tasting bar and tables and very comfy black chairs. Craig always has something nice playing from his ipod on the speakers laced throughout the store. The quality of the beers is always exceptional with many beers being available cold or warm depending on the style and what mood you are in. Craig and his wife honestly run this place pretty flawlessly and as such the service has always been exceptional. The little wine and cheese plates are always fresh and made with local products from local and sustainable merchants which is another big plus in my book...The selection is arguable, and in my opinion definately, the best in the city with many one offs and rarities showing up regularly from the bay area breweries and beyond (LA area, San Diego area, etc) ...this is just the best place to go for rare alesmith, pizza port, russian river, cantillon, and the list could go on forever and ever, Craig has really done an excellent job with this place and I wish him luck in every aspect.

francisweizen, May 21, 2007
Photo of aoampm
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

aoampm, Sep 10, 2014
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev -2.7%

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.

RblWthACoz, Jul 30, 2012
Photo of greenspointexas
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

greenspointexas, Jul 03, 2014
Photo of corby112
3.94/5  rDev -11.5%

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

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

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

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

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

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

corby112, Jan 16, 2010
Photo of Floydster
4.14/5  rDev -7%

Stopped here right after Toronado and expected to find something special on tap after everything I heard about it but found that only four of the six taps were working and they were all beers I had already had or can buy at home, they were Stone 12th Annivesary Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Full Sail Prodigal Sun IPA, Marin Blonde, and Port Wipeout IPA, the place was set up weird with only like four stools at the tiny bar, then bottles lining the entire wall, I talked with the guy there for a while and found out that I was a day early for a great barrel aged fest they were putting on, they had a bunch of Drake's stuff lined up that was upwards of four or five years old, some Avery beer called Platypus, Angel's Share, Cuvee de Tomme, and many other great things, anyways the guy was cool and we talked quite a bit and he gave me some recommendations as far as some of their bottles go, this was the first and only place I have seen Lost Abbey's Witch's Wit, also Brewdog Paradox variations, too bad that stuff is fifteen dollars a bottle, selection was decent but not as great I was expecting, I ended up buying two things and they were Russian River Blind Pig IPA and Pliny the Elder, after tax the two bottles were ten bucks, I was on my way because I had people waiting for me outside in the car once they saw the tap list, other beers to go included Cantillon Cuvee Des Champions, both 21st Amendment brews that are available in cans, Lost Abbey Inferno and Gift of Magi, various Avery things, Alesmith stuff but it was ten or twelve dollars more than I pay at home, that is probably because it is such a pain to get it up here, this place was cool, a little expensive for my taste, but I will probably go back in the future and give it another go

Floydster, Aug 24, 2008
Photo of orangesol
4.34/5  rDev -2.5%

Tried to stop at Monk's Kettle but they were too packed thanks to a PTY event so we decided to go here a little earlier than I was planning, oh well. Atmosphere was solid all around. Bottle shop area to the left is informal with bottles on shelves and coolers all over the place. Bar area off to the right had plenty of people enjoying beers and talking amongst themselves, we were lucky to get a table as they quickly filled up once we got situated. Service was great. Girl behind the bar got my beers quickly and was nice to talk to. Quality was top notch all around. Selection on drafts was a little light but they were all top notch so it more than made up for it. The bottles on offer were pretty insane as well. Food was nearly non existent but the charcuterie we got was really good. Prices were comparable across the board to the other places I have visited. Overall an awesome bottle shop / beer bar combo.

orangesol, Feb 14, 2014
Photo of nickfl
4.2/5  rDev -5.6%

This is an interesting little place. They seem to mostly be a tiny bottle shop, but they have a few tables where you can sample what is on their six taps, or drink any of the bottles that you buy there.

They seem to have a good selection, certainly they are a top tier bottle shop. I was really happy with what I was able to find there since I was visiting from the east coast, though I don't know how they compare to other bottle shops in the area.

The service was the ideal combination of helpful, but unobtrusive. They could answer one's questions but knew when to leave you alone.

This is a really neat little place to stock up on bottles and enjoy a pint or two while you are at it. I don't know that I would head there for evening drinking however, since it seems like such a small place would easily become overcrowded.

nickfl, Apr 17, 2011
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.46/5  rDev -22.2%

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.

Beerandraiderfan, Nov 22, 2011
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.6/5  rDev +3.4%

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.

TheSevenDuffs, Aug 05, 2013
Photo of Goldorak
4.3/5  rDev -3.4%

After a few pints at Toronado, Francis, Kevin and I hopped a crackhead infested bus to SoMa to check out City Beer store. With a name like that, I sort of expected more of a Quickie Mart-like convenience store feel, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Lighting was dim and décor was dark and comfortable but with a slick, urban feel. A little chill out sofa corner to the right (looks like a great spot to review a Beer), a 4-5 stool bar to the left, with a kitchen counter behind it. The Beer was in the back, with a line of coolers and a few shelves. A quartet of interesting tap handles, so we had a taster while shopping around. How cool is that?! Reminds me a bit of Beermania in Brussels, where you could sample a Beer on the spot before deciding if it’s worthy of taking some home or not.

A good variety of indigenous and regional brews could be found, if I remember correctly I grabbed a Moylan’s Hopsicle and Lagunitas Freak-out among others. Nice foreign selections too, Germans I don’t see very often in the east and a couple a Belgians. The prices, for the locals at least, seemed pretty fair.

Our bartender/checkout guy/owner was cool, we talked shop a little and sampled some of the cold cut and sausage platter, great stuff.

I really like the concept of this store that so many higher-end wine shops have implemented successfully. Considering that more and more people are getting turned on to craft Beer I have to give kudos to the owner for catering to this niche market. I would recommend it to anyone, be it a local looking for that new offering or the drunken tourist like yours truly who wants to see a good cross-section of the native flavors. It’s a terrific place to shop for Beer in a relaxed, upscale (compared to Toronado, this place is the Ritz), but not uptight atmosphere.

Goldorak, Sep 27, 2006
Photo of jaydoc
3.67/5  rDev -17.5%

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.

jaydoc, Feb 19, 2014
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.64/5  rDev +4.3%

Had some time to kill in SoMa on a Wednesday afternoon, so I decided to cruise over to City Beer Store. This was my first time visiting.

As you've probably heard, City Beer Store is very small. I'd guess that the max occupancy is right around 25. That said, the store makes excellent use of its space. High end craft beers occupy most of the wall space, and about a third of the selection is kept chilled in wall coolers. The bar area is tiny, but because of that there's a little extra space for tables (2) and chairs (6). I must say, it's pretty cute.

The beer selection is not cute; it is very large and very serious. It was loaded with imperial stouts, sours, lambics, imperial IPAs, and bourbon barrel-aged ales. I didn't spot a whole lot of pilsners, pale ales, bitters, or other "easier" beers. When I talked to the owner, he made it clear that he was catering to a very specific crowd: us.

All of the prices at CBC were reasonable, and the staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. I'll be stopping by next time I'm in the city.

ThreeWiseMen, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of GRG1313
4.39/5  rDev -1.3%

Update: Visited the expanded CBS and was most impressed. First, Nick was behind the bar and completely made up for the lack of attention I got the first time in. (Other guy still ignored me but Nick was so nice he made up for it). Great expanded place; great selection of bottles and expanded taps. Cantillon St. Lamvinus on tap and Figero from Cascade on tap. Wow. Two rare and wonderful things. Gotta raise the grade for that. So, 4 months after first review I definitely give the place better marks.

**

Original review:I fear that the rating for this store is more of a reflection of city pride than quality. I want to be clear that I placed a relatively large order from City Beer and they could not have been more accomodating. (It was a special release and they took nice care of me). I was really looking forward to going in, especially in light of the ratings.

Finally made it in and, respectfully, was less than impressed.

Very small industrial space with a few taps (6 as I recall) of decent beer but nothing worth a special trip.

Selection is modest, at best. There was nothing there that could not be found at most decent beer stores with which I'm familiar and frequent. The average Vendome in southern California has a selection at least twice as large. A decent selection but hardly more than average and certainly little, if anything, that one can't purchase at a myriad of other places.

Staff and owner was "professional" in that I got the perfunctory "can I help you find anything" but little more. Neither Craig or the other staff member desired to engage in any beer talk and expressed little interest in sharing information. Craig did say that nothing was in back and all was on the shelves.

Craig was friendly and helpful on the phone during our initial transaction. I actually brought from my cellar some rare and hard to get sours and wild ales to share with him. However, he seemed so intent on avoiding me that we never had the chance. I purchased three bottles of new releases that I will be able to get locally but didn't want to leave empty handed since I waited over an hour for it to open with my wife and daughter being pissed at me! I could never let them know that it was a total bust.

Anyway, if you need a decent bottle of beer in SF or a drink this place will do the job. However, in my opinion (and having little to do with the service) judging only on selection this is an average place and a bit of a disappointment to me. Not worth a special trip.
My opinion only.

GRG1313, Jun 13, 2011
Photo of bradybeer
4.3/5  rDev -3.4%

Fourth stop on the SF tour. Located in the middle of a somewhat blighted area of the city. Walking down a few steps brings you to the bar ahead and coolers to the right and towards the rear. There are a few tables and chairs. On tap when we were there yesterday were 1) Pale Ale from Auburn Alehouse, 2) Racer X from Bear Republic, 3) Sai-Tea (sic) from DFH, 4) Saisson from Stillwater, 5) Pliny from RR, 6) Serpent's Stout from Lost Abbey.

I had the Saisson which was somewhat disappointing I found it to carbonated but I still enjoyed it. Their strength is what is on tap which changes often, very often, and european craft beers-especially Dutch and Belgian beers. I though the US Microbrew selection was somewhat weak but still good enough to find something you haven't had. I picked up four Emmalise (sic) beers from the netherlands.

You can buy a bottle and for a buck drink it there. I found their prices to be good. FW $14 $21.00.

A must stop place when in the city.

bradybeer, Jan 30, 2011
Photo of jdense
4.3/5  rDev -3.4%

Visited during SFO beer tour 4.2.10.

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

jdense, Apr 04, 2010
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.41/5  rDev -0.9%

Great place to pick up beer in San Francisco. I used to tavel out to the Bay Area once a month from Atlanta and I still make it out that way ocassionally. I'm pretty familiar with the local beer scene and availability of rarer local brews. Imo, City Beer Store and Ledgers in Berkeley are the places to go to get a dependable supply of the good local stuff. They almost always have the most recent Russian River offerings, rarer Lagunitas stuff like Hop Stoopid, and various hard to find botttlings from people like Drake's. More importantly to me, this store and Ledgers are two of the only stores in the Bay Area to carry many of the San Diego brews like Alesmith, Ballast Point, Greenflash, Lost Coast/Port Brewing, and even an occasional Alpine brew. Unlike Ledgers, this place will let you drink a beer on premise- something not even remotely possible in Georgia. As others have mentioned, there is a very reasonable $1 bottling charge, or you can have something on tap. I'd like to see something a little more killer on tap, but what was on was fine. They have a decent collection of Belgians as well, but I can get all of those and more at home- When I travel I wantt the local or regional stuff. The place is tiny, but open and airy feeling despite being slightly below street level. About 1/2 the beer is refrigerated, the rest on the shelf, but most of what is on the shelf duplicates what is in the cooler. The owner and his wife weren't there when I visited- an extremely rare occurrence apparently- since they were on vacation. Instead I was hosted by the owner's parents who had come out from Indiana to visit and watch their shop and apartment while they vacationed. They may not jhave known a lot about beer, but they were extremely friendly, great people whom I enjoyed talking with. I also was flabbergasted that they would help out to the degreee that they did- just shows you the caliber of people associated with this business. A wonderful place to hang out for a couple of hours or just pick up some brew. I'll be back next time I'm in town.

Georgiabeer, Jun 21, 2007
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City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
98 out of 100 based on 238 ratings.