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Thirsty Bear Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Thirsty Bear Brewing CompanyThirsty Bear Brewing Company

Beer Stats:
Active Beers: 19
Beer Ratings: 243
Beer Avg: 3.64

Taps: / Bottles:
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
very good

74 Ratings
Ratings: 74
Reviews: 59
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 15.38%
$$ - reasonable
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

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

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 74 | Reviews: 59 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of objectivemonkey


4/5  rDev +6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$

Definitely a downtown feel to it, more of a swank bar feel than brewpub feel, the design of this place was very well thought through. Very clean and sophisticated use of materials, artwork on the walls, and an interesting and effective floor plan makes this architect a happy customer. Essentially a very long tall space, circulation is through the middle, with a tucked away dining area at front next to entry. Then, to the immediate left is another small bar table area, with the kettle room beyond, stretching the remaining length of the bar, encased with glass. In the middle is a very long and clean bar, with a thin dining area to the right. Also, there was an upstairs area, but was pretty much empty, even on such a busy night. We were there on St Patties Day, so it was quite crowded. As such, service was a little slow, but still dedicated, and she was willing and able to talk about the beers. We didn't get to too many beers, but the ones we had (the stout and golden vanilla) were definitely good. Its too bad I didn't get to more, cause there were several. Anywho, nice place, good beers, great downtown location, woudl definitely go back.

03-30-2006 01:01:48 | More by objectivemonkey
Photo of bultrey

New York

4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5 | $$

I have a feeling that this is the type of place where your experience depends on what time of day you go. I went twice on a recent business trip for lunch, and really enjoyed myself, though I understand that this place is suppose to turn kind of "clubby" in the evenings, which I really dislike. Anyhow, it's got a very classy, slightly modern, and cleanly decorated interior -- lost of wood, iron work, nice curtains, etc. It's quite spacious... several tables in a front section by the windows, a long bar (12-15 seats?) along the left, but the room is wide enough to accomodate several more tables on the right side of the room adjacent to the bar area. There is also a staircase on the right that leads to another spacious mezzanine, and the downstairs continues on beyond the bar to yet another spacious seating area. So all in all, it's big.
Brews rangs from average to very good, with the Polar Bear Pilsner, Meyer ESB, Winterbock, and Bearly Legal Barleywine being particular standouts. They have about 5 or 6 regular beers on draft to choose from, plus usually one or two seasonals. They also have a cask-conditioned ale on all day Tuesdays, similar to the "kill-the-cask" Tuesday's that seem to be popular in several other area establishments. Service was impeccable, very attentive and friendly. I actually asked if I could meet the brewer, Brendan (sp?) -- I had wanted to ask about one of the beers, and he came out and had a long conversation with me, very passionate about his beers, but at the same time, seemingly having fun with it all. He gave me a couple of free samples (bock and barleywine), even though I was trying to avoid those because I was technically working. Really friendly guy. The food was a particular highlight -- I had some sort of sliced steak sandwich with caramlized onions, etc., on one occaison, which was very good, and a crab and cheese dip on another, which was fantastic (and a perfect match to the pilsner). I put "reasonable" for pricing, because it does seem like an upscale establishment, and I am from NYC, so the prices don't shock me. But it might be bumped up to "a little pricey."
All in all, if you find yourself stuck at the Moscone Convention Center, I would make a bee-line here for lunch every time, and might even come back for dinner one night.
Overall, a place that I think frames craft brew with a nice, sophisticated tapas bar kind of feel.

02-14-2006 20:15:00 | More by bultrey
Photo of axisjones


3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$$

Thirst Bear is the "other" SOMA brewpub, 21st Amendment being its counterpart (I am not counting Gordon Biersch). This seems like the trendier and more upscale of the two.

Dim almost club like interior, really tall ceilings, very hip. A really long bar flanks an open dining room with a second floor coming up in the back. Worst placement of bathrooms ever, about 30 stairs up and around. The decor and vibe screamed yuppie, which i don't vibe as well with, it almost bordered on pretentious. The semi-exposed brewery was a site though, with the equipment coming up from below from behind the bar.

The service was okay, it was too crowded to even matter, tried to squeeze it at the bar, my friend had to stand for a while nearby.

I ordered the sampler (7 beers), all average to mediocre. Nothing really stood out and some choices were just weird. They seemed overly fond of using nitro taps on beer that was already somewhat weak. On the plus side, there were a lot of guest and house brews.

The food prices were more than I was willing to pay, so it was chevy's next door. I would go back if someone else was driving, otherwise this would be one of my last choices in the city.

12-19-2005 21:31:22 | More by axisjones
Photo of baiser


3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$

Quite a trendy place for a brewpub on Howard St between 2nd and 3rd. Wasn't expecting the type of food they served, which was spanish cuisine. I didn't think it went well with their beers, but nonetheless, I enjoyed a few of their hot tapas, which were priced $10 or less. Their main dishes were just under $20.

In terms of beer, they offered quite alot of their own brews. Many different styles and a range of tastes. I enjoyed their IPA and stout the most. They had 2 seasonals - a fruity beer called Hallucination and also a Dunkel weizen which was so-so. Every Tuesday, they offer cask pints for $3. Also, they offer 3 oz tasters of their beers for $0.50 which turns out to be cheaper than their pints.

Service was a bit slow, but it was also a busy night. It took a while for a waitress to come, and the drinks took even longer. But she was very friendly and appeared to know about their beers.

There is an upstairs with pool tables.

Overall, I was quite happy with this place and will probably go back for their stout. I can pass on the food though.

07-24-2005 09:24:18 | More by baiser
Photo of brewandbbq

New Hampshire

4.14/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$

Second visit to the "other Bear".
Long bar and some tables lit with reddish tones.
Kind of an odd combination for a brewpub, upscalish with a DJ pumping up the "jam". Hmmm, better than 21st Amendment anyways.
They had a good selection of beers going, although when I ordered the Dunkleweizen, it was out. 7 on tap me thinks.
We both got the White beers which was as good as I remember.
Big glasses too. Like yum yum,- wish I had some now -yum.
Didn't eat or look at the menu, Pam was fading fast.
Brewhouse is behind glass in back of the bar, and there looked like there might have been an upstairs, not sure.
Service was very good, the barkeep gave us a verbal rundown of the beers and served 'em up quick and neat.

06-11-2005 23:13:21 | More by brewandbbq
Photo of Bierman9

New Hampshire

4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$

Came here about 930PM on the Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend. Another long front-to-back place. Flamenco music playing on this eve. Long bar lines the left side of the room, with brew kettles visible behind glass behind the bar. Right side lined in brick, with numerous tables scattered about, booths along the wall, and with a small stage near the middle right for musical entertainment. Somewhat dimly lit, and rather sparsely populated on this night. Besides bier they have lots of liquor here...anything you might want. Does have a yuppy-ish vibe, as earlier noted; tries to be more of an upscale place. OK, overall. Had 8x biers on tap during this visit, and I enjoyed a couple of pints of their seasonal Maibock ($5.00), served in a great German, stange-type glass. Bartender was quite pleasant, an English chap. He was a few minutes late pouring me my second Maibock, and I wasn't bothered by it, but he comped it for me. Cool. Decent place in general, though I'd hit Toronado or Zeitgeist first, personally.


overall: 4.08
atmosphere: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: n/a | $$


06-09-2005 18:07:36 | More by Bierman9
Photo of Mark


4.21/5  rDev +11.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$

This pub has a more upscale feel to it than most of my favorite places. Tanks are very hidden behind an exceptionally long bar. There is a thin eating area fronting the bar. There is also an upstairs area as well. A wide selection was available on tap, at least 6 offerings. These included an IPA, Pils, Stout, Porter, and an ESB, I believe the 6th was a wheat beer. Food is Spanish style, Tapas being the specialty. Looked good but also a bit expensive and I wish I knew how big the portions are. A decent pub in the south of Market area, while I prefer 21st Amendment, I thought this place had a wider selection of brew. One other thing we enjoyed was a good converstation with our bar man who was English. We conversed about the U.K. and cask ale. Nice guy. Worth going to by all means.

06-04-2005 23:59:05 | More by Mark
Photo of Redrover


3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5 | $$

I hosted a small business diner here. Some of co-workers were initially skeptical, but this place quickly won them over.

As described by others, this is a fairly narrow but long bar/dinning area. The upstairs contained the bathrooms, pool tables and some place for entertaining.

I was there on a Sunday evening which happens to be flamingo night! Some nice guitar playing and dancing entertained us. It really added a unique vibe and I wonder if this weekly event draws a different crowd.

For dinner, we went with a bunch of tapas dishes and some yummy seafood paella. Some of the best food I have ever had at a brewpub. Great combinations of flavors and very fresh ingredients!

The beer was fine, but it didn't blow me away. Still, very solid representatives of the styles. I had a seasonal Mai Bock and the IPA. The brewing equipment is on display behind the bar. I wish I had another chance to sample a few more.

The service was a bit slow, but very friendly. The food did come pretty quickly after we ordered..

I'm very glad I had a chance to stop by.

05-26-2005 18:16:51 | More by Redrover
Photo of Troyone


4/5  rDev +6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$

The atmosphere is business like and somewhat yuppy-ish. There is spacious dining areas downstairs and it looks as though the upstairs is mainly for entertainment with two pool tables and a dart board. They have an area in the middle of the restaurant next to the bar for live flamenco music on Sunday nights.

There are wooden tables and chairs; the bar is hard to figure out, looks like some thick transparent enamel over a type of art work. The restroom was clean. Kitchen is in the open and viewable from the southside dining area as is the brewing equipment behind the bar..

Kind of yuppy-ish but prompt.

A decent selection, no guest beers, and a good concept of cask beer (handpump) however only on certain nights. Their IPA and seasonal Viena Waltz are notables also their possible notables are the Valencia Wheat (similar to a hef) and seasonal Imperial Red (8.5%). The beers seem to be served a little on the cold side but are alright.

Have eaten there in the past, I recall the proportion did not add up to the price but was good. There appears to be some healthy options on the menu. The kitchen is wide open and viewable from the South dining area.

Food is pricey.

04-30-2005 06:13:06 | More by Troyone
Photo of drewbage


3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Last visit was during a foolish attempt to drink all 9 beers of the San Francisco Strong Beer Month in one night. (I did 8 of them for the record.)

The Thirsty Bear's concept has always been one of my favorites, but the execution has always left a little to be desired to me.

The menu concept is tapas (which gets translated by some as "yuppie chow") which to me is about as close to perfect for eating with groups over drinks. This is exactly why the Spanish invented this cuisine. Menu varies and has always been good.

The beer on the other hand has always varied. On this particular visit I had the Bearly Legal barleywine and the Winterbock. The winterbock was phenolic and the barleywine was fine, but still relatively lackluster.

The crowd here is my other problem here as the posing yuppies really do invade this place by nightfall. Hey, I like yuppie cusine, not yuppies.

Still a very nice place though.

03-02-2004 08:34:38 | More by drewbage
Thirsty Bear Brewing Company in San Francisco, CA
86 out of 100 based on 74 ratings.