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Thirsty Bear Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Thirsty Bear Brewing CompanyThirsty Bear Brewing Company
BEER AVG
3.61/5
Based on:
21 Beers
279 Ratings
Place Score: 86
Ratings: 86
Reviews: 61
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: n/a
Taps: --
Bottles: --
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)
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Ratings: 86 | Reviews: 61 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of portia99
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of sholland119
3.25/5  rDev -13.3%

Photo of ashleylake
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of mc4z
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of mattmarka1
1.5/5  rDev -60%

Photo of CrackedHarlot
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.5

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.

Photo of davegray
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of rwhitmore
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

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.

Photo of AngusOg
3/5  rDev -20%

Photo of FightingEntropy
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

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

Photo of jophish17
3.03/5  rDev -19.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4.25

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...

Photo of BenHesk12
2.76/5  rDev -26.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3

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.

Photo of MightyCow9
2.25/5  rDev -40%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2 | service: 1 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

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.

Photo of slander
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

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.

Photo of cbutova
4/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This was the first stop during my trip in SF recently, pretty much right off the plane/BART to Thirsty Bear for some lunch.

The atmosphere of this brewpub is a nice one. It has a huge bar and spacious dining room with TVs and an overall shiny clean atmosphere. Some fermenter tanks can be seen but the place is not decked out in beer decor by any means. The crowd was mixed, business people there for lunch break, college kids and anyone in between, not a beer-geek dominated place. The service was prompt and servers were helpful informing us about both the food and the beer available. Everything was served in nice glassware (signature goblets and pint glasses) that suited the beer styles just fine. Overall they had a well rounded selection including an IPA, double Amber, stout, etc. The food for lunch was well priced and very good. It wasn't exactly the most complex thing but the sandwiches had fresh, flavorful ingredients and the roasted chickpeas were awesome.

With nice beer, a relaxed atmosphere and good prices this place is definitely worth checking out if you ever visit San Francisco.

Photo of dgilks
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

I tried out Thirsty Bear because I needed a place to waste a couple of hours before heading out for dinner. The interior is nice enough but a bit dark and loud for my preferences while the service was fairly good but nothing special. While all the beers were house made and their was a substantial range to choose from, I found many of them to be a bit similar and the quality was a tad disappointing. Overall though, prices were decent and the experience was okay. Good if you are in the area but I wouldn't search it out.

Photo of Gavage
4.05/5  rDev +8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This place is located close to the convention center which makes it easy to hit for lunch or a quick pint after sessions. The place has more of an upscale modern restaurant feel with very high ceilings, plenty of wood tones, lots of brick, and nicely separated areas for the bar and dining. The bar can seat about 20 or so and overlooks a few tanks behind the bar. Several hitops and some circular booths are also just off the bar.

There were 8 beers on tap during my visit - most seem to be the normal house beers except for a 15th anniversary beer that was an imperial red ale. The beers I had during my few stops here were of good quality and OK versions of the styles - and the crowd seemed to be drinking quite a variety of styles.

The food was focused on tapas, and several of the dishes were quite good like the octopus, albondingas, and empanadas. The paella was also good hearty portion. The tapas format worked well here for having beers and food with a bunch of people.

Overall this is a good place to hit for the whole food and beer experience, but don't expect any over the top beers here - they brew to fit the clientele, which I am sure focuses on local business men and women, and of course conventioneers.

Photo of searsclone
4.58/5  rDev +22.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

We stopped here on our last day in SF so that we could check out at least one brewery. We tried to go to Magnolia, but it was unsuccessful. We got there right as they opened on a Monday morning, so it was very low key and we got great attention. Our bartender impressed us with his knowledge of the beers and his knowledge of the the local beer scene. We had the flight of 9 beers, and all were very good. We had a small appetizer that was also very good. We didn't spend much time here, but if I ever find myself back in the area, I will definitely try to go back. Overall it was a very good experience.

Photo of yemenmocha
3.6/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Near 21st Amendment, so good for a two-fer. I like environments like this with the spacious layouts and high ceilings, as this reminds me of the way many brewpubs were in the 90's when craft breweries were called micros. Server was very nice, knowledgeable, and professional overall.

Selections on tap were more numerous than I expected but nothing spectacular in the way of styles. They were brewing that day I was there so there was a glorious aroma in the air. Didn't order food, so can't comment on that. Near the stadium if that's where you're headed. Prices seemed high but not too bad for San Francisco.

Photo of NorCalgrowler
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Thirsty Bear is a great place to have a beer. They have about 7-10 of their regular and seasonal selections on tap at all times. Service was prompt. The space is spotless inside - you could eat off of the floor. Its atmosphere is brewhouse but a little more upper end I think. Warehouse feel also with exposed kitchen and brew kettles. Everything on tap is very reasonably priced. I had the Brown Bear the last time I was there. And I think it definitely fits the bill for a lot of age groups. Not sure if kids are allowed, but it seems like the ind of place they would like to be in also (obviously not for beer!)

Photo of RedBeerchetta
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Great place for a beer, especially if you're staying at the W hotel accross the street.

Large space with music not too loud. Couple of TVs with sports but just a couple. 9 beers available, all on tap (one cask), all their own. Wood and steel beams, brick, amber lampshades. Nice atmosphere. Kitchen closed before I got here so couldn't try the Spanish food.

Had the Brown Bear brown ale. 27 IBUs, 6.3%. More amber in color than brown despite the low light in the room. Not as rich and toasty as I like but I lean towards big Belgians. Still a tasty beer and worth the stop.

Photo of bradybeer
4.5/5  rDev +20%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Last stop on the brewpub tour of SF.

Walking in the bar is to the left with seating to the right and upstairs where there are pool tables and darts. We ordered a sampler set which had a Golden Ale, Vanilla Ale, Wheat, IPA, Brown, Stout, Winter Warmer, and Dopplebock. I think I missed one. Beers were organic and OK the stand out was the Dopplebock which if I weren't driving would have had a pint.

We ordered the Chicharonnes (made in house) which were very good as well as the sliders which were good as well.

Service was good and the prices reasonable. I would come back for the food alone but the beer is very very solid and is the reason I think this is one of the best breweries in the bay area.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I thoroughly enjoyed the Thirsty Bear!

It's nice to find a bartender who knows his beer; will listen to what you want; and then make suggestions based on that (and not what they're interested in or know about). Additionally, I really appreciate a bartender or server who'll steer you right as far as the menu offerings go (as in "perhaps the 'blah blah' might be a better choice").

I had a "Rum Runner". It was a kind of barleywine-style ale served in a smaller glass. It was a deep chestnut brown with an off-white head, and exhibited caramelized brown sugar and some spiciness. Quite nice. Well done.

It's a good looking place (exposed brick, wood floors) with some interesting quirks, i.e. the odd orange and silver bar top. It's open and spacious and comfortable.

They offer 7 regular beers, 2 seasonals, and a cask offering.

The food is good and the service follows.

Well done all around. Worth a visit!

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Stopped in here for dinner the other night with my family and good friend, Zach.

Thirsty Bear has an atmosphere that seems to accommodate all ages. The interior is open and comfortable with modern decor. The restaurant and bar occupy the deep and narrow bottom floor, while the upstairs is (apparently) reserved for private parties - there are a few billiards tables, dart boards, and a small bar area.

Zach and I each ordered the "all beers" sampler, which included eleven different 4oz. samples. Nearly all of the beers were above average (Golden Vanilla being one exception), though none of them were special. The best of the bunch were Brown Bear, Meyer E.S.B., and Howard St. I.P.A. (Polar Bear Pilsner also deserves mention).

Our group ordered several rounds of tapas, capped off by a shared plate of steak and broccoli paella. While the tapas ranged from mediocre the good, the paella was great! On top of that, the tapas-style dining left all of us feeling satisfied, not overly full, at the end of the night.

Our waitress was very friendly and attentive, and even gave us free beer coupons at the end of the night (I think because I presented my AHA card). Even though the food and drinks weren't much to write home about, we really enjoyed our experience.

Photo of DrJay
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I stopped in here for beer while attending a conference at the Moscone Center. The place was very clean with decent atmosphere, lots of earthy reds and browns in the decor. Staff were friendly as I walked in the door and the bartender was quick and attentive. I sat at the long bar with a view of the brewhouse behind it. There were 8 house beers on tap (pils, vanilla, wit, brown, ESB, stout) and a cask IPA that was in great condition. Out of the four beers that I tried, the cask IPA stood out, but the quality overall was decent across them all. Prices were reasonable at $4 for a 12oz, $6 for a 20oz, and $16 for growlers to go. The menu was mostly tapas and looked good, but I didn't partake. Definitely worth a stop if you're in the area.

Thirsty Bear Brewing Company in San Francisco, CA
86 out of 100 based on 86 ratings.