Taps: 10 / Bottles: 75
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 18 | Reviews: 16 | Show All Ratings:
3.99/5 rDev -2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | $$$
This was my 2nd attempt (a few years in between) and stopping by the Church Key while in the charming North Beach region of SF. This time the place was actually open and in existence (not sure what happened that previous night...)
Cool place - small, split level bar that is high on cozyness no matter where you are. Tap selection was small - maybe only 8 or so beers, though it looked like the number was usually a little higher (empty spots on the board). Still, there were good choices to be had and my ruination hit the spot.
Pretty cool neighborhood spot - not one to got out of the way for, but if dining down in North Beach and in need of a pint (and dont feel like going to la trappe or rogue), here is another good option.
07-09-2013 00:33:56 | More by dirtylou
4.17/5 rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
long walk through Chinatown from the downtown hostel to North Beach... entered into one of the smaller, more cozy spots I hit in town - seemingly devoid of lighting, chill feel - sat at the back near the end of the bar....
Tony, the barkeep that night - quite friendly/outgoing, good guy, enthusiastic - talked up the local food scene, gave a good overview, the best this the best that - conducted the room well
had a bottle of Petrus Oud Bruin, then a bottle of Velvet Merlin, then sampled some drafts.... the bottles range from reasonable to expensive, decent selection of those and drafts, locals don't make up a significant percentage of the bottles - decent-sized list, a lot of stuff I've had before, stuff I didn't care to try...
can't remember if they had a kitchen (don't think so)...hey, if I was a lil more local, I'd probably be semi-regs
05-15-2013 05:44:22 | More by Bouleboubier
4.64/5 rDev +14%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Coming here I felt like I had discovered a Hobbit-hole of beer geekery. The vibe of the place—from the nondescript symbol of a sign, to the ‘regulars’ vibe, to the barkeeper himself—felt more like I had stumbled into a man cave of craft beer. A real hole in the wall, they still managed to have 10 tap handles pouring and all sorts of proper glassware. The bottle list runs for pages and pages and makes for great reading. Prices are about what I’d expect for the beers. If this place was easier for me to visit I’d make it regular haunt. Hope I can drop in again sometime.
08-27-2012 19:44:04 | More by elNopalero
3.44/5 rDev -15.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$
A small, easily missed spot just far enough away from the touristy part of San Francisco that you aren't overwhelmed with tourists, but aren't getting disapproving stares from regulars either. Dark, but very intimate surroundings. The downstairs, bar portion almost forces social interaction because of how proximal everyone is to each other--including the bar keep. Speaking of the bar keep, he is most likely on some type of speed. I won't venture to guess whether it's cocaine or meth, but he probably does indulge in one or both. While he is not necessarily off-putting, he does wait on you with a contempt and condescension that is usual in places that specialize in artisan beers. His beer knowledge is not nearly as vast as he would have you believe, which causes more educated patrons to look over some of his narcissistic features. The beer menu is decent. It is categorized by style, which is helpful. The upstairs is less intimate, but you almost get the sense that you're doing something wrong by being up there. Decent place to visit for two or three beers, but I find myself wanting to leave pretty soon after arriving.
04-14-2012 22:30:48 | More by DocJitsu
4.16/5 rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
Nondescript sign with a church key is the only thing that adorns the outside of this bar. The only thing the keys you in that this is a bar is if music is playing and there is a bit of crowd noise coming from inside. Pretty small space that I remember used to be an antique record store years ago, narrow, with the bar downstairs and a lounge like area upstairs. Decor seems to be cobbled together from some modern furniture without much of a theme.
Usually one person working the bar by themselves and another person helping bus the empty glasses back to be washed. Pours drinks quickly though, but I went on a weekday night and it wasn't too busy. Decent 10 tap selection with mainly US craft beer options for a reasonable price, surprising given Church Key is located in North Beach where almost everything is pricey now.
10-30-2011 19:30:38 | More by nataku00
4.46/5 rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
Church Key is a tiny little bar in an area that has plenty of eateries and small shops. No name on the place, only a key sign hangs over the entrance. The bar is is the back and can only seat about 6-8 comfortably. A staircase heads upstairs, but I didn't check it out. There is a few tables so I can see this place getting packed quickly. Luckily when I visited there were only about 10 folks there. Overall the place is a bit dark with only a large window overlooking the street.
There were 10 beers on draft during my visit, with some notables like Deschutes Stoic, Orange Kush, Black Xantus, and DFH Palo Santo Marron. The beer seems to move quick here as it looks like all patrons were very beer knowledgable along with the bartender.
I would call this a must stop for any BA on a trip to San Francisco as they seem to offer some unique beers from the typical bars in the area.
10-10-2011 12:17:20 | More by Gavage
4.3/5 rDev +5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
A great small place in North Beach not far from the Rogue Ales taproom. Very knowledgeable bartender, friendly, full of information, happy to provide samples. Poured both of us samples of Ovila from bottle opened to try. Number of taps varies from 7-10 but there are lots or interesting bottles which many people were trying. Taps included Green Flash IPA, Nogne, Stone 15th, Firestone Double Barrel, Alaska Summer, a German Hefe, and Ephemere Cassis.
Interesting changing music selection from the Mac laptop. Friendly folks. One lady brought in a couple of Surly Furious cans as a gift to the bartender. Not crowded early on a Saturday evening, jammed on Friday.
Makes a good stop if you're hiking up to Coit Tower. Easy to get here from downtown or Fisherman's Wharf on frequent 30 trolley coach line or the big 6X bus, or the 41 and 45, all running every few minutes.
09-04-2011 05:40:12 | More by mactrail
4.14/5 rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Church Key is marked by an illuminated key by the doorway in the heart of North Beach. Once inside the interior is dark and inviting with a few stools surrounding the small bar. There is plenty of space in the upstairs lounge and by the windows but there was no table service when we visited. Tap and bottle list is impressive with plenty of locals and harder to find beers from out of the region. Bartender was very knowledgeable and was happy to give out samples before we purchased a pint. A much smaller selection than institutions like Toronado but much friendlier atmosphere. Certain nights there is food and a dj.
05-04-2011 22:14:31 | More by baycat
4/5 rDev -1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$$
Visited 4/24/2011, on a Sunday night.
This is a small unassuming place marked only by a key hanging above the door, or at least thats all I noticed while walking up the sidewalk. Inside is a bar, a handful of tables, and a stair case leading to the loft where there are more tables. Didnt go upstairs, just ordered a sausage and a bottle of Hanssens Gueuze (wasnt excited about the $22 price tag on a 375ml bottle though) and sat in front of the window next to the entrance.
There was some music playing that I didnt pay much attention to. Over all the place was pretty dark but aside from reading the beer menu it wasnt an issue. My food came on a wooden board complete with a small loaf of bread and some sauerkraut.
I only saw one employee in the whole place and she was working behind the bar. She was really nice and helpful. She accidentally charged too little for our food and drinks but when I corrected her she still gave me a break.
Had a small glass of the Uinta Kolsch along with my bottle of Hanssens. Nice place, would stop in again if in the immediate area but in the end it's not a huge beer destination.
04-28-2011 18:34:55 | More by t0rin0
3.86/5 rDev -5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | $$
A nice low key spot in North Beach. Made a quick stop in last night for a couple rounds. Their draft list was pretty good, and it was nice to see decently priced bottles there as well. Started the night with a Telegraph California Ale and ended it with an oatmeal stout from Ninkasi. The crowd was a mix of personalities, most of which seemed to appreciate better beer. The bar had a mixed vibe, that of part beer bar and part scene-like. I would definitely like to make another trip here and become more familiar with what they offer from time to time.
09-27-2010 00:53:30 | More by d0ggnate
Church Key in San Francisco, CA
91 out of 100 based on 18 ratings.