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Thirsty Bear Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Thirsty Bear Brewing CompanyThirsty Bear Brewing Company

Beer Stats:
Active Beers: 19
Beer Ratings: 230
Beer Avg: 3.67

Taps: / Bottles:
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
BA SCORE
86
very good

71 Ratings
Ratings: 71
Reviews: 59
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 14.51%
$$ - 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 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
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Ratings: 71 | Reviews: 59 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DaveDLD
DaveDLD

Missouri

4.83/5  rDev +27.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$

of all the brewpubs i went to in san francisco this weekend, i'd have to say that thirsty bear was my favorite. it's located in the south of market area which is right near union square. i had the ipa, brown, and wheat (which was a white ale) and all were delicious. they have taster beers for only .75 cents which isn't too bad. i had never eaten spanish cuisine, which is what they serve, however, i was VERY pleasantly surprised. everything was delicious and the waitress was friendly and was able to explain certain things on the menu that i wasn't familiar with. if you're going to be in union square or at the SFMOMA i'd definitely go to thirsty bear.

11-13-2007 04:24:34 | More by DaveDLD
Photo of phergy
phergy

Missouri

4.75/5  rDev +25.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$$

I went to the Thirsty Bear for lunch on last Wednesday, May 14th. The staff was friendly and attentive. My first beer was the Howard Street IPA. It was dark amber with a creamy colored head. It left a fair amount of lacing on the glass. This is a bitter beer, but not really citrusy. The malt is definitely present at the finish. The beer has a great mouthfeel; lingering but pleasant. If time weren't so short I would definitely have another.

Next I had the Lamb Burger. It wasn't a huge sandwich, but it was filling, and very tasty. It was unlike any other sandwich I have had, with a seasoned lamb patty, red onions, feta cheese and tomato jam. I would have it again.

I finished with the beer sampler, which I would have started with if I had noticed it on the beer menu. The sampler included one of each of the beers they have on tap; currently 9 different beers. The cost of the sampler was $9. I enjoyed all of the beers, each being a good representation of its' particular style.

If I had one problem with the Thirsty Bear, it was that the lunch menu seemed a little limited, but it is better to do a few things really well than lots of things poorly. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting San Francisco.

05-20-2008 20:44:31 | More by phergy
Photo of andyj
andyj

Washington

4.63/5  rDev +22.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Seldom is it the case that brewpubs have more than the blah-blah ales and blah-blah lagers. This place had two wheat beers (Belgian and Bavarian respectively), a surprisingly good Vanilla Ale, an wonderful stout with a hefty additional of roasted barley, mmm roasted barley. There were several other beers, I think I counted eight and it was a nice well-rounded variety with some extraordinary stuff. And they have food, good food. It is Spanish Tapas style -- Spanish pub fare. The dishes were very good, but I should say they are larger than your average tapas dishes. My wife and I each ordered three thinking they would be small, but they turned out to be heftier portions than I had ever imagined. This place also has pool tables and stuff like that upstairs and is in walking distance to the museum and 21st Ammendment brewpub. Of 3 brewpubs I went to in SF (21st Ammendment & SF Brewing) this was the best.

10-02-2003 19:12:51 | More by andyj
Photo of searsclone
searsclone

Arizona

4.58/5  rDev +20.8%
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.

09-13-2011 02:25:27 | More by searsclone
Photo of bradybeer
bradybeer

California

4.5/5  rDev +18.7%
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.

01-30-2011 18:52:29 | More by bradybeer
Photo of xhcadamx
xhcadamx

Maine

4.45/5  rDev +17.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$

A - CLASSY joint to say the least. There was a huge focus on decorating this place. Nice downstairs with an impressive bar and great tables. Upstairs had FREE pool and darts with tons of room (I think it is used for private parties).

Q - The beer is tasty. Sure there is better but this is the best brewpub in SF.

S - A very knowledgeable waitstaff. Very prompt and pleasant - every time I have been there.

S - Couple of good selections. Nothing that you can't find anywhere else. Every once in a while they have a black lager which is always nice.

F - Not your typical brewpub.... This place offers Spanish cuisine! Nice Papas (small plates) of really tasty food. The potatoes and calamari are a must.

Best brewpub in SF IMHO.

01-25-2009 03:02:45 | More by xhcadamx
Photo of bjohnson
bjohnson

Massachusetts

4.43/5  rDev +16.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$

After a lot of walking around Fisherman's Wharf and other places in San Francisco during the morning and early afternoon, Emma and I stopped into the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company located on Howard St. near the MOMA and Yerba Buena Gardens. This is our first beer stop during our week long stay in California.
While walking up to the door, I was pleasantly surprised that is wasn't just pub grub and actually was a bit more interesting. Spanish cuisine. Thumbs Up Set in an old brick building, the brick walls give this place a nice ambiance, highlighted by the low soft lighting. High bar tables and benches line one side of the bar area, with a long bar on the other.
I counted 9 taps, but only indulged in a couple of their offerings. On tap included a brown, red, ipa, pilsner, lager, golden, wheat, and a stout and esb both served on nitro.
Howard St. IPA came with a clear amber color. Soft fruity hop twang in the aroma. A good backbone of malt with a strong citrus bitterness in the finish. Not a bad IPA, but nothing that was overly amazing. Kozlov Stout on nitro came to me as it's head was still forming. Jet black with a tan head. Roasty and dry with hints of dark fruit. Quite smooth and soft from the nitro. Finished with this one.
I also sampled Meyers ESB (3oz. pour) and a sip of the Golden Vanilla. ESB was very nice and bitter with a fluffy mouthfeel. Golden Vanilla was, I believe, their golden pale ale. Vanilla was a bit too prominent. First thing that came to mind as I sipped was the smell of Vanilla extract.
Food was excellent and exactly what I was looking for. Hanger steak sandwich with blue cheese aioli, red onions, and watercress on an herb roll. The garlic herb french fries that accompanied the sandwich were also excellent. Never had those type of flavored fries before. Emma had a spanish meatball sandwich with the lightest, crispiest, and perfectly seasoned onions rings I've ever had.
All in all, exactly what we were looking for as the food by Fisherman's wharf is for the tourists, birds, or sea lions...depending on who gets there first. Not overly expensive as our bill came to around $35, not including tip. We sat at the bar and watched some Spanish league soccer highlights.

09-24-2007 04:08:34 | More by bjohnson
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
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!

01-18-2011 01:37:03 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of rossthefireman
rossthefireman

California

4.3/5  rDev +13.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$

This is going to be a combo review of both beer and food.
The Thirsty Bear is a very 'hip' SOMA establishment that caters to the clientele in the area which is business people, hipsters from the art college, and people who attend conferences nearby at the Moscone Center.
The establishment is very upscale in both looks and food type. A Spanish based menu with tapas and full meals are available.
REMEMBER- this is an 'organic' establishment. Every thing they serve is organic all the way down to the T Shirts for sale.
The food was excellent. I had the grilled chicken sandwich with murcia curado cheese, roasted pasilla pepper relish, orange-pimenton aioli & french fries. The sandwich was excellent and the fries were extremely crispy on the outside but perfectly cooked on the inside.
I also drank the Howard St IPA that I thought was excellent. A very citrusy IPA with a nice balance of citrus malt and hops. I asked the waitress what type of hops they used in the IPA and she said chinook and cascade. Very knowledgeable staff.
I did go there during lunch time so the place wasn't overly crowded. I could see how this place would get packed on a Friday night after work or during a Giants game as it is on the way to the park.
I recommend it and will definately be going back myself.

10-18-2009 00:31:52 | More by rossthefireman
Photo of slander
slander

New York

4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

05-01-2012 17:57:04 | More by slander
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Thirsty Bear Brewing Company in San Francisco, CA
86 out of 100 based on 71 ratings.