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Thirsty Bear Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Thirsty Bear Brewing CompanyThirsty Bear Brewing Company
BA SCORE
86
very good

78 Ratings
Ratings: 78
Reviews: 60
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 14.85%
Active Beers: 20
Beer Ratings: 243
Beer Avg: 3.64
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

661 Howard Street
San Francisco, California, 94105
United States
phone: (415) 974-0905

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 78 | Reviews: 60 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rwhitmore
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

Had lunch here on a Monday. I ordered the Monday pork sausage special sandwich and it was delicious, albeit on the messy side, which made it a little hard to eat gracefully.

The decor and atmosphere are just great, rustic but sleek and clean as well. The service was nice and attentive. It was my first visit, and my server offered his suggestions, and more important, why he liked them.

I had the IPA, the Red Ale and the ESB. All were well-made delicious beers. The ESB stood out, creamy and rich, with a well balanced hop bite.

I enjoyed Thirsty Bear a lot, it's well worth a visit on you next trip to San Francisco.

rwhitmore, Nov 04, 2013
Photo of aoampm
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

aoampm, Sep 10, 2014
Photo of Bumblebtna
3.64/5  rDev -3.4%

Bumblebtna, Aug 18, 2014
Photo of little_star
4/5  rDev +6.1%

little_star, Aug 16, 2014
Photo of DrMindbender
4/5  rDev +6.1%

DrMindbender, Jul 20, 2014
Photo of andy1701
2/5  rDev -46.9%

andy1701, Jul 19, 2014
Photo of atpca
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

atpca, Jul 16, 2014
Photo of Real_JasonN
3/5  rDev -20.4%

Real_JasonN, Jul 04, 2014
Photo of pisano
3.25/5  rDev -13.8%

pisano, Jul 03, 2014
Photo of timlyon
4/5  rDev +6.1%

timlyon, Jun 19, 2014
Photo of Rachael11
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

Rachael11, Jun 17, 2014
Photo of JonAdams
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

JonAdams, Jun 08, 2014
Photo of portia99
4/5  rDev +6.1%

portia99, Apr 30, 2014
Photo of sholland119
3.25/5  rDev -13.8%

sholland119, Apr 10, 2014
Photo of ashleylake
4/5  rDev +6.1%

ashleylake, Jan 28, 2014
Photo of mc4z
4/5  rDev +6.1%

mc4z, Jan 25, 2014
Photo of mattmarka1
1.5/5  rDev -60.2%

mattmarka1, Jan 17, 2014
Photo of CrackedHarlot
4.09/5  rDev +8.5%

Nice brew pub. Very unique selection of craft brews. We had the tasting flight which was a good deal. 9 studen different beers including their two seasonals. Really enjoyed he the Panda Bear Ale and the seasonal Dopplebock. Food was decent, we had several tapas style selections. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

CrackedHarlot, Dec 07, 2013
Photo of davegray
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

davegray, Nov 14, 2013
Photo of AngusOg
3/5  rDev -20.4%

AngusOg, Oct 09, 2013
Photo of FightingEntropy
3.93/5  rDev +4.2%

6/27/13

Nearly a decade ago, I stopped at the Thirsty Bear on a walking tour of pubs in San Francisco. However, it was near the end of a long day and I doubted my conclusions. On our first night in The City before heading north for a tree and beer tour, we got in late but our hotel was so conveniently close to the Thirsty Bear that it was an obvious choice for an after flight dinner.

With the kitchen closing shortly after our arrival a bit before 10 pm and thanks to a fast bartender giving advice as we sat at the end of the bar, we ordered a sampler tray and food immediately to make sure we got both. The samples were improved since my last visit but in the general ballpark of my memory. Grizzly Bear Red Ale, Meyer ESB and Koslov Stout were my favorite of the standards taps. On cask was a stock ale dry hopped with fuggles that did not appeal to me at all.

Our favorite draft of the stop was the Charbay Stave, listed as a black ale. From the bartender, it's the Kozlov stout aged for a year in Charbay barrels of Charbay Distillery & Winery and mixed with stock ale to smooth. The draft has a clingy tan lace from a full head over a jet black ale. Strong dark malt, molasses, hot alcohol and chewy barrel is apparent in the nose, char on the tongue with strong whiskey that's sharp and fun. House special was to pair the beer with a snifter of Charbay whiskey: the beer nicely cut the raw taste of the whiskey and made a delightful comparison. Dark cherry comes out when the beer warms up, but the overall effect degrades.

As a tapas bar, we shared two small plates to compliment my Caesar salad. Delightfully presented, the salad stacked high on a small plate. I tried but didn't enjoy the Organic Sugar Snap Peas as much as my wife, but the Patatas Bravas (fried kennebec potatoes, garlic, spicy brava sauce, and aioli) were spectacular. We quite enjoyed the food. mixing in the remaining samples and the Charbay Stave draft. To date, it's the best organic brewery that I've been to, though, overall, the samples fall a bit short of a standard brewery. But, the combination of food and atmosphere more than compliment the well brewed beer.

Our bartender was friendly and full of beery knowledge for San Francisco at the beginning of our trip; one recommendation we followed (avoided a brewery in fact), led to what I believe was a much better night at Cerveceria de MateVeza. The similarity of my conclusions for the two visits increases my confidence in drinking knowledge a decade ago; a nice test to validate my memory. While not a destination brewery, the Thirsty Bear is a solid pub that fits well in the SOMA (south of Market) neighborhood, and I would happily visit again if I found myself nearby.

Pictures at http://pintsizedrevelations.blogspot.com/2013/07/thirsty-bear-brewing-san-francisco-ca.html

FightingEntropy, Aug 13, 2013
Photo of jophish17
3.03/5  rDev -19.6%

Been here twice now. The first time was in September 2008, when the financial markets were on the verge of collapse. Fortunately, the world was in a better position as I visited this past February.

The location is prime for visitors - both beer nerds (a few blocks from 21st Amendment), business people (near the convention center) and tourists visiting the nearby Union Square. So I am surprised to see it with half of the reviews of 21st Amendment. The building is spacious - not really my thing - but the decor is a lot of brick and metals, which I do like. It almost seemed too big, though I can still remember the place being rather busy for Oracle OpenWorld in 08.

To start with, let's get one thing settled: those of use reviewing here are Beer Advocates, so we tend to really appreciate really good beer. That is not something you will get at Thirsty Bear. The beer here is uninteresting, and wholly below the local standards. Nothing on my sampler was good enough to order a pint of. However, it should be noted that none of the beers were offensive either - just very forgettable.

The food, on the other hand, we really enjoyed. This was a sort of in between brunch and lunch stop for us, so we spilt a couple of tapas plates which we enjoyed. I'd say the food menu was a bit off the beaten path from the standard brewpub menu of sandwiches and pizzas, so that was refreshing, even if the food wasn't breathtaking. Still, things like that keep girlfriends happy as you drag them from brewery to brewery.

This is not a spectacular brewery. It is not a charming bar. It is also not the best tapas bar in the world. However, all put together, I somehow left this place for a second time now thinking that I'll come back again next time I'm in SF. I always recommend this place as an outside-the-box destination for visitors to SF, and I'm not really sure why...

jophish17, Jun 23, 2013
Photo of BenHesk12
2.76/5  rDev -26.8%

This is your typical big city "brewpub" that is only kept in business because of its easy location for tourists to walk to. Here you will find expensive glasses of beer that taste like they were made by a first time homebrewer. I tried several different offerings and from a beer drinkers perspective Thirsty Bear is entirely forgettable. I went here because they have several TV's and I was watching a live sporting event with friends, however, I will not go back and cannot recommend this place to anyone unless you are in this area and are not willing to walk 10 minutes away to find somewhere better.

BenHesk12, Dec 23, 2012
Photo of MightyCow9
2.25/5  rDev -40.3%

I really expected more. We had trouble finding a seat, meaning it was crowded. But it was a Saturday. It was roughly 2:15 PM when we walked in. 2:30 when we sat down. 3:00 when we sat down. And about 3:45 PM when we got our beers. Many trips to find servers and people to help us met us with a big run around. We finally got our beers and the best was mediocre. An overly phenolic and young belgian wit, and an ESB that was bitter to the American style, although not advertised that way. All were too young and did not have anything special to offer. They had a cask offering, hand pulled, but we did not have an opportunity to order a second beer. We did finally get a nice and attentive server, but it was far too little and far too late. After an incredible experience at another beer stop earlier, this was made to seem like even more of a visit to the dentist.

I don't recommend this place, for anything but slightly better than average bar food. It has been rated better by others, but please enter at your own risk. There are much better places to visit in the Bay area or San Fran proper.

MightyCow9, Nov 11, 2012
Photo of slander
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

The alleged California, I see. Okay, I have to admit, it’s seemingly real. Everybody out here says it is, anyway. Did the pre-check in at the hotel and set out for beer. This, an easy walk and found in a strip of store and eats on 3rd. Made direct eye contact with the host station people and silently passed them by; I’s got a bar to be at...

It’s a large, cavernous space, surprising for the strip it’s in. Off to the left, a copper-like colored with silvery swirls of wet lookingness topped bar beneath laminate, and a stainless steel drain trim running its perimeter. Wood base & piping foot rail, the stretch broken by a service piece. Seating for nearly a dozen and a half on the straight piece on brown leather chairs, and seating for another 4 up front on the wrap around. A trio of upright bar towers of 3 each clustered at both ends of the bar and a sole handpump further along.

The barback is a ½ wall of glass with 2 long shelves running its length holding boozables, and offering views of fermenter tippy tops from the sunken basement brew room behind it. Below it sits a long counter with stacked glassware of all sizes and shapes, and a pair of tap towers holding 4 each on the barback pouring organic wines. Cooler space & shelved booze down underneath the bar, and growlers in a fridge at the far end. Vintaged horizontal sign pieces for each house beer and ‘certified organic’ signage running along the overhang above. I beams and pieced phat wood beam uprights along the bar, holding beer boards listing selections, OG’s, IBU’s, and ABV’s on the posts at both ends, and mounted flatscreens above.

The far wall is brick, and the other areas are painted in shades of green, beige, orange, yellow & red. Concrete floorings, a black painted ceiling with panels with spots, and a high squared skylight piece on center. Glass lampshades tracing the bar, and elongated versions of the same up front. Some cool horizontal art pieces on the big brick, curtainings, and plants in, well, planters.

2 dozen raised roundies in a row adjacent to the bar and along the far wall, some effectively sharing boothing benchings, and a few around the front bend. More seating to the rear, tiered to one side overlooking the open kitchen sunken below the stairs, and a few tucked forward the kitchen in a nook. Some 2 dozen+ tables in all back there, some of which are piecemeal plankings of color and coolness. And a secret front section curtained off (but I will not, cannot be kept out), holding a single table in the large front windows over 3rd, and a ½ dozen tables against the far wall.

Upstairs, a wraparound space with a single pool table and a pair of dartboards. A small “L” shaped bar around the bend shuttered just now with a few hightops adjacent, and a smallish event room to the rear with a dozen tables and another pool table. Cool views over the down below from uppathere.

Took in a sampler ‘cause ‘cause. 7 full time beers (Polar Bear Bohemian Pilsner, crisp, pleasant enough; Golden Vanilla, an American blonde and the nose knows first what comes, much vanilla not goodness there, no; Valencia Wheat, a Belgian wit, coriander, check, orange peel, check, it was okay; Brown Bear, an English style Brown with big maltiness, very good; Meyer ESB, caramel sweetness with nice hoppiness; Kozlov Stout, a dry irish stout on nitro, roasty, chocolatey, mmmm, quite nice; Howard Street IPA, in at 7%, nice bitterness), and a single seasonal (Winter Stave, a Golden Ale in French oak from white wine with cranberries & Brett, 6.3%, and has some, you know, nice sourness going on), guest tap (San Francisco Strong Ale, a brewer’s guild collaboration, 8.5%, has some alcohol to it, uh huh), and cask offering (21st Amendment Lord & Master, an 8.3% English Strong Ale). The Brown Bear, Meyer ESB, Kozlov Stout, Howard Street IPA, and Winter Stave were the best of ‘em. Took in shortys of the Brown Bear & Kozlov Stout on the heels of the sampler. And the aforementioned organic wines on tap, currently 3 red & 3 white, as well as a dozen bottled wine selections, mostly California & Spanish.

Today’s lunch special ($8) is a Spanish cured meat bocadillo with roasted piquillo peppers, lettuce, and aioli. It was a good sandwich, served with house pickled vegetables picked at, as I had no idea what they were beyond beige, reddish & kind of yellowlike vinegarings. I was happy to have gotten my snack on.

Oh, this is the tapas place Ben was talking about. Seems that every item on the menu has at least one word that I don’t know. Friendly people on both sides of the bar (Joetender saw some Brooklynburg things just recently). Caught a nice snack and some good beer here.

slander, May 01, 2012
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Thirsty Bear Brewing Company in San Francisco, CA
86 out of 100 based on 78 ratings.