Taps: 10 / Bottles: 75
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 22 | Reviews: 16 | Display Reviews Only:
3.44/5 rDev -15.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$
A small, easily missed spot just far enough away from the touristy part of San Francisco that you aren't overwhelmed with tourists, but aren't getting disapproving stares from regulars either. Dark, but very intimate surroundings. The downstairs, bar portion almost forces social interaction because of how proximal everyone is to each other--including the bar keep. Speaking of the bar keep, he is most likely on some type of speed. I won't venture to guess whether it's cocaine or meth, but he probably does indulge in one or both. While he is not necessarily off-putting, he does wait on you with a contempt and condescension that is usual in places that specialize in artisan beers. His beer knowledge is not nearly as vast as he would have you believe, which causes more educated patrons to look over some of his narcissistic features. The beer menu is decent. It is categorized by style, which is helpful. The upstairs is less intimate, but you almost get the sense that you're doing something wrong by being up there. Decent place to visit for two or three beers, but I find myself wanting to leave pretty soon after arriving.
04-14-2012 22:30:48 | More by DocJitsu
3.7/5 rDev -8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
This place is decent. Pretty nice ambiance and a fairly good beer selection, albeit extremely predictable. They've got some Allagash (White/Curieux), Dogfish Head (90 Min/Midas Touch/Palo Santo Marron), Delirium Tremens, some De Ranke, Nogne, Duchesse de Bourgog....(yawn)...zzz. Ok, maybe I've become too much of a beer snob for my own good. But really, nearby La Trappe dominates this place, and that's not even considering La Trappe's awesome moules frites. Church Key prices are also pretty high, although not unexpected for a high-end North Beach beer bar.
One interesting feature on the menu is the $2 "mystery beer."
It's something crappy, almost definitely some variety of bland American macro adjunct lager. If you're lucky, it'll be PBR. If you're unlucky, well, let's just say I hope you have lots of Advil and easy toilet access the next day.
Still though, it's another place to get a good beer in the city, and is worth it if you just want to mix it up a bit.
06-24-2009 22:17:16 | More by nickd717
3.71/5 rDev -8.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$
Church Key is a new beer bar/lounge located in North Beach. For those going, parking around the area is extremely tough. If you are going out later than 6, take public transportation or be prepared to spend $20 to park. They serve only beer and wine and don't do food, but the table next to me had brought in pizza.
It is a fairly tiny space. There are two levels, but I only stayed on the ground floor where the bar is located. There is not a ton of seating room. They have a booth, a few hightops, and some seats at the bar.
They have a few taps that they continually rotate. When you come in they give you a clipboard with their draught offerings as well as their bottle offerings. When I went they had Curieux, Maharaja, Buffalo Belgian Stout, Duchesse, and a few others that I don't recall. The bottle list seemed fairly large, but I did not even take a look at it.
My biggest gripe was that it was a little too loungy for me. Think lots of Eurotrash and crummy Radiohead knockoff bands playing on the stereo.
The prices were in line with what most Belgian beer bars seem to charge (not very cheap). Draught offerings went from $7-$10. I think my Maharaja was $8. The bartender was friendly and quick at getting my beer.
This is by no means a bad place. If you are waiting to eat at Tony's pizza down the street it is a great place to go and have a drink. I prefer La Trappe and Rogue because of their atmospheres.
08-01-2009 19:18:29 | More by mjl21
3.8/5 rDev -6.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | $$$
Great new beer place in North Beach. I went there last Sunday for a pre-concert round of beers. First off the service was great and the women bartender was excellent (sorry forgot your name). She had a good handle on the beer and was very nice.
Great beer selection started off with a draft and then jumped to the beer menu and much to my surprise they had the Mickeller IPA. Price as all hell but a great beer and kudos to Church Key for stocking it.
I likely be back to see how the place evolves over time
03-28-2009 23:48:57 | More by jp11801
3.8/5 rDev -6.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | $$$
I finally went to this place on a first date after my friend told me about it, several times. I don't usually go to North Beach, but I'll hunt our a good beer bar any day.
Initially the place was a little hard to find, no sign other than an actual key logo hanging over the door, which I thought was cool. I walked in and they were playing Mission of Burma or Sonic Youth (both were played that night), HUGE points for me. I go to the bar, the guy behind the counter was really friendly and picked up on the fact that I was on a first date and was really helpful.
I was stoked to see that they had Aventinus' Eisbock on tap, but was not too stoked at the price. Cheaper beer was around $6 and that was for Moylan's irish red and Anchor Steam's OSA. Their bottle selection was very good as well, again, pricey. They had a few bottles of Mikkeller black, which I thought was gone forever. The beer selection overall was good, little pricey, and most of the stuff is readily available Bevmo or other craft beer stores around town. The fact that they had a few of them on tap that I hadn't had before was cool.
The overall vibe was pretty hip but laid back. I felt like I was kind of in a upscale bar/lounge, but the people created kind of a neighborhood bar atmosphere, conflicting images, but I didn't mind.
If you got a few extra bucks, check this place out more for the experience than the beer itself. It's probably one of the better bars in the area, if your not into the upscale shwanky stuff North Beach mostly has to offer.
03-06-2010 19:53:35 | More by 100floods
3.86/5 rDev -4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | $$
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
3.99/5 rDev -1.7%
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
Church Key in San Francisco, CA
91 out of 100 based on 22 ratings.