City Beer Store

City Beer StoreCity Beer Store
City Beer StoreCity Beer Store
Bar, Beer-to-go

1148 Mission St
San Francisco, California, 94103
United States

(415) 503-1033 | map
citybeerstore.com

Notes:
PLACE STATS
Average:
4.45
Reviews:
201
Ratings:
349
pDev:
8.76%
View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 201 | Ratings: 349 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Zonian1
Zonian1 from Ohio

4.53/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I made my first-ever visit to City Beer store in June 2018 after doing the short walk past the homeless people from Cellar Maker. If you're from out of town and not familiar with San Francisco, the sketchiness of the neighborhood can be off-putting. But this store has been in this location for years, and the employees and regulars seem to take everything in stride. The store is moving a couple of blocks away later this year into a bigger location. That will be nice, I'm sure. The biggest surprise to me about City Beer was how small it was. That meant their selection was limited. But what they lacked in quantity, they made up for in quality.

I didn't arrive on a Pliny delivery day, but I did come away with some nice local and regional bottles to bring home with me, including several BA stouts, quads, and sours. The staff and a couple of regular customers spent a lot of time helping me choose wisely, given the limited space I had in my luggage. This is definitely a beer geek mecca. If possible, allow some time during your visit to have a beer or two on tap, as they had a pretty sweet tap list.

Jul 07, 2018
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Beersnake1 from California

4.5/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

Stopped by on a recent trip to San Fran. This was quite a hike from our hotel, but worth the trip. They had a huge fridge and several racks of beer. The selection was amazing. They had bourbon county, BA Ten Fidy, and lots of other limited releases. Someone walked in and asked if they had Pliny. He walked out with a case. The staff was nice (a bit busy since they just opened), and the prices seemed fair. By far the best place I have visited in SF.

Jan 03, 2018
Photo of RyanK252
RyanK252 from California

4.32/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

A must stop for beer enthusiasts. Huge selection of bottles and cans of all styles, plus a nice tap selection, often heavy on local brews (all stellar). You can often luck into some real gems here.

Aug 15, 2017
Photo of mrcraft
mrcraft from California

4.47/5  rDev +0.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

City Beer Store was a nice find near the Civic Center area of San Francisco, a few blocks south of Market Street.

You enter, walk down some steps and you will find the retail bottle shop on the left side and an area to enjoy your purchases. The selection was solid. Most of their beers were refrigerated with some on shelves. The service was very friendly.

I found a nice beer to enjoy back at the hotel. I will definitely return when in SF and in this area again. Very nice.

Aug 12, 2017
Photo of RixBeer
RixBeer from Massachusetts

1/5  rDev -77.5%
vibe: 1 | quality: 1 | service: 1 | selection: 1

So what kind of jerk tells you that you can't bring your kid in while you buy beer to go? This is the first time EVER in any of the states I have ever visited where anyone said anything this stupid to me! Or maybe it was my Red Sox shirt the guy was staring at?

No worries- I'll buy beer elsewhere. I won't make a second special trip to your "Mecca"... Do you know where you are? Good businesses don't turn away customers who are about to drop $1000 on beer and send them to a competitor....

No worries- they took my money with a smile on their face!

Buyer beware- not tourist or child friendly! A millions places to spend your money is San Fransisco- choose elsewhere!

Jun 22, 2017
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Bum4ever from California

4.14/5  rDev -7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

Low key bar and bottle shop in downtown SF. Pretty small supply of bottles, but some pretty decent stuff included some vintage bottles.
Service was great and everyone there seemed to be having a good time. I was there to see the bottle selection, but if I ever go back I would love to sit down and see what's on tap.

Feb 20, 2017
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.65/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5

After visiting again on 10/10/19, this now is an all new place that I will have to re-review.
They have added an almost fancy kitchen and tripled the bar seats and have 20 taps.
More review to come. Until then here is my review of the store on Folsom Street

You would have to spend a lifetime to find a beer store with a higher concentration of great beers and knowledgeable staff... and you probably would not succeed. I was there twice, hunting for the beers that would put all me me over the top of my goal of drinking 500 of the "1001 Beers To Drink Before You die." I found the last six. Three were so rare that I had to consume them on-site from their behind-the-bar cooler (Cantillon Lou Pepe, Black Albert and The Dissident.) While much of what is in that cooler is expensive on a relative basis.... if you gotta have, well, you gotta Have it.

Also on my list and fortunate for me, Pliny The Elder, had just come in; so, I bought three (and I may save one as my first trade... but I didn't.)

The staff are, quite simply, the best. Helpful, extremely knowledgable and very patient in reading through my 1001 list and the 300+ on MJ's "Great Beers of Belgium."

If you live in SF, you know City Beer. If you travel to SF, visit City Beer.
I was a resident of SF for the first decade of Fritz Maytag's ownership of Anchor. Today, I am glad to have visited twice what seems to be a center of the third generation of SF's craft beer scene.

Oct 13, 2016
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ONovoMexicano from New Mexico

4.08/5  rDev -8.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I always like to stop in here when in San Francisco and checking out Cellarmaker which is not far from here. There's a good selection of bottles and cans although I get the sense that their best beers get cleared out almost immediately upon arrival. If you can appreciate great shelf beers you'll find plenty here.

The tap selection here has never blown my mind but always has some good stuff.

If you are willing to spend some change, the on-site consumption bottles offer some serious, serious gems.

Apr 13, 2016
Photo of W_Des
W_Des from North Carolina

5/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Stopped by during a vacation to grab some beer and the guys working were extremely helpful offering suggestions related to what beer I was looking for. Seemed to be pretty busy on the bar side as well and I would have loved to stop and have a pint. Next time.

Feb 15, 2016
Photo of mactrail
mactrail from Washington

3.54/5  rDev -20.4%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

My favorite part about this store is the several coolers have little lights that shine right on the front bottle in each shelf, so you can actually see what they hell they are. Otherwise it's cramped and the random shelves and boxes make it hard to see what else they have. The location means you have to walk through some of the worst south of Market blocks. Service seemed brisk and efficient, but I didn't ask for anything I didn't see.

Selection seems utterly eclectic and they typically have just one or two beers from a given brewer, rather than the full range. Not really that great a selection of Bay Area beers either. Mostly there are a lot of random oddities and expensive rather than rare stuff. It's the place to go if you want the $20+ sours and wild ales and barrel aged concoctions.

Feb 06, 2016
Photo of frasergrove
frasergrove from California

4.62/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

Great to go/bar in SoMa...while the price point of brews to go can be borderline crazy, the selection of stuff to take out, enjoy in house, or have on draft is excellent.

Jan 24, 2016
Photo of amano_h
amano_h from Oregon

4.54/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5

I always thought City Beer Store was one of the most underrated beer establishments in San Francisco. Now that I see 600 other reviews that also seem to think that way, perhaps it's as adequately rated as it can get.

The legends and the stories (both good and bad) about this place are all true, but once you think about the circumstances surround them, it's not all that impressive or out of the ordinary; the most clear cut way to describe City Beer store is that unlike all these new bars trying to capitalize on the craft beer craze, City Beer has its shit together and have known what they're doing even before beer was cool.

Yes, City Beer Store boasts some of the best selection of take-out beers and has a very carefully-curated rotating tap list, but then the city of San Francisco in itself has one of the widest distributions / selections of beer available in the country. (thank you, based Shelton Brothers)

Yes, City Beer Store tends to be slightly more expensive than some of the other bottle stores like Healthy Spirits and/or Whole Foods, but have you considered minimum wage, the rent in SoMa and the cost of operating a non-franchised individual business in San Francisco?

Yes, City Beer Store will sometimes have ridiculous whales hiding in their "Bar Fridge" (again, thank you based Shelton Brothers) and they charge an arm and a leg for them. The last time I went, they had bottles of Cantillon Fou'foune for 60 USD, which costs about 12-20 EUR (or 32 USD at the time of when I had this at City Beer) at the source, and Bourbon County Vanilla Rye for 40 USD. Would I ever spend that kind of money if I were just some dude with a casual interest in beer and were satisfied with the amazing selection that the Bay Area has brought upon its consumers over the past two years? Probably not. Would I order these bottles if I were visiting home for the first time in two years and just haphazardly saw it in the store while visiting it with one of my best friends on my birthday? You bet I did.

So in the end, all of City Beer Store's quirks and idiosyncrasies, like them or not, seem to have a method to their alleged madness. Your mind might rest easier if you remember that it's all just beer in the end.

Jan 07, 2016
Photo of Sludgeman
Sludgeman from District of Columbia

4.05/5  rDev -9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.75

This place came highly recommended, but I was not impressed. A nice place but there are better beer bars in town. A little difficult to find as the signage at night was difficult to read/possibly non-existent.

V - A bit too dark. Difficult to read hanging paddles that served as the draft beer list. But a fine beer vibe. Also a bottle shop with a decent selection. 3.75

Sel – Relatively small selection on tap but a good selection of bottle that you could drink in-house. 3.75

Ser - Excellent service. The bartender was able to help my non-beer drinking friend choose a barrel aged beer to his liking. – 4.25

Q – Good. Correct glasses and temp. Clean. 4.25

F - NA

Dec 30, 2015
Photo of Coldstorage
Coldstorage from California

4.03/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

I gotta ding em on vibe the most. Crowd is usually unpleasant and there are nowhere near enough seats. It's almost never a "comfortable" place to grab a drink.

Quality is fine. Good beer served through clean lines into clean glasses.

Service is mixed. Sometimes helpful, sometimes not.

Selection is great. Prices are straight up insane. Don't bother looking at the bottle list unless you have a sense of humour.

Dec 30, 2015
Photo of Phil-Fresh
Phil-Fresh from California

4.64/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I Love City Beer, it's always been one of my favorite places to drink beer in the City. While it started out as a tiny bottle shop with a superb selection... it's turned into a small (double the original size but still quite petite) very chill beer bar with 15 handles of interesting, rare selections - often of kegs you wont find anywhere else in the City or the Bay Area. Even better, they have a deal with Alpine, so there's always at least one offering. They also hold some super kick-ass special events. There are still bottles for sale and a solid variety, just a bit less emphasis.

Oct 31, 2015
Photo of jlindros
jlindros from Massachusetts

4.27/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

15 taps, smaller bar area, nice bar though big wooden lacquered thing, semi open area, few artistic pictures, bartender was fairly knowledgeable and friendly. Pretty clean, very limited snack offerings. Tons and tons of bottles, lots of super limited stuff like framboos, goose island bourbon county series, midnight sun, Avery specials, eclipse series, lots of vintage bottles, many great Belgians sour esp, almanacs, cascades, etc. Prices are fair, on the better side for the most part but a few expensive ones.

Oct 29, 2015
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EsseQuamVideri from North Carolina

3.68/5  rDev -17.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 3

Solid place. I'm a tourist, so I can't really compare it to places in the region. As a bar, I rate them very highly; good vibe, good beers, good bartenders. As a bottle shop, I rate them average; average to slightly small selection. Overall, I exhumed you go if you're in the area.

Aug 19, 2015
Photo of mikepcarney
mikepcarney from Ohio

4.44/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

Only issue I had going to City Beer Store is that everything is way over priced. Tap list is very nice and interested array of bottles on the shelf. Bottles are consistently marked up 20% over elsewhere. The reserve list is insanely overpriced. Go to Toronado if you want a great reserve list and great taps. Bottles check out The Wine Club.

Aug 09, 2015
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BDeibs from Colorado

4.57/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5

What a great store. A really well curated 10 tap list and a very fun vintage bottle list for sale. They make of the most of their space and have curated a nice selection of beers for sale from 45 dollar Belgians, to some great beer from across the US and a nice selection of small breweries from Northern California. The service couldn't have been better. Everyone was very friendly and very helpful without being pushy. A really great group of people supporting a really great store!

Aug 03, 2015
Photo of James_Michaud91
James_Michaud91 from California

5/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Bar/Bottle shop with a huge selection. Well known amongst the beer community. Regularly have very limited/special taps on including beers brewed specifically for their store by greats such as The Bruery.

Jul 29, 2015
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ericw985 from New Jersey

5/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Great tap selection, including a few from Russian River (Blind Pig and Perdition when I visited) and some very good local brews from Cellarmaker and Fieldwork. There was a big bottle selection too, but while Cantillon and some harder to find RR bottles were available, they were extremely expensive and had to be opened and drank before leaving. The bartenders were very friendly and knowledgeable, and the tap area was a fun and social environment.

I didn't get to check out Toronado before leaving SF, but CBS is an excellent place to check out for high quality beer that I would go out of my way to visit again.

May 18, 2015
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Rilesmiles from Wisconsin

4.11/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Selection was smaller than I had expected, but definitely nothing to scoff at. Was able to find a few 'wants' that I can't get back home in Wisconsin, but nothing mind-blowing.

Vibe was cool, and the inclusion of a small tap room was a great bonus. Didn't stop for a beer but it looked well-managed.

Staff was friendly. A worthy stop, but not a destination in my opinion.

Mar 24, 2015
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JamLand from District of Columbia

4.7/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75

Easily the best store/bar combo I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. Plenty of street parking around the store, if renting a car while in SF. Typically, one of the best to go bottle selections in the city and usually a great tap list, so you can have a brew after all the hard work of beer hunting.

Mar 15, 2015
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Smakawhat from Maryland

4/5  rDev -10.1%

A very unassuming store, but also serves beer with a full bar and a few bites to go with it.

The tap list is real impressive at times, with items from Russian River, Alpine, and other West coast classics.

Real nice organized store too. It's not a huge selection, but lots of West coast goodies, and even some decent foreign imports.

A great buying and drinking beer stop in the area.

Oct 25, 2014
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Goalcam from California

4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

Love the concept, lots of beer to choose and some charcuterrie <sp?> options. Also have some nice beers on tap rotation as well. Slightly shady area in the city though.

Oct 10, 2014
City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
Place rating: 4.45 out of 5 with 349 ratings