City Beer Store


197 Reviews
City Beer StoreCity Beer Store

Type: Bar, Store

1168 Folsom St
San Francisco, California, 94103-6027
United States

(415) 503-1033 | map

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Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-08-2006

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Reviews: 197 | Ratings: 328
Photo of bbothen
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

I love coming here.

First the owners, Craig & Beth, are extremely nice, accomodating, patient, and cool. You are always welcomed with a smile or nod "hey". I usually don't ask for much assistance, but have witnessed both assist others who probably aren't part of the beer culture.

6 or so taps of constantly rotating eclectic beers. Always something interesting. Russuan River Temptation, Firestone 11, Moonlight Death & Taxes, Dogfish Palo Santo off the top of my head as gems I've had here.

Several fridges full of just about everything. This place is beer geek heaven, so the real gems usually move quickly. The prices are within reason of just about every other place in town.

I've only once had the offering of artisinal cheese & sausage plate, but it was quite good.

If you love beer you need to make it here. The evenings it's usually filled with beer advocates, industry folks, and others who love beer just hanging out having a couple & talking beer. I can't think of a better time.

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Photo of smellsofstout
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Beth is great. she was the only one there on a friday afternoon because her help was running late. she was very buisy yet very helpful all things considered. great selection they did not have pliny on tap or any alesmith, but still a good selection. Beth will help you find what you want and if they dont have it she will let you know where your best chances are finding what you are looking for. If you are in the SF area definitly stop by this place. lots of russian river, stone, etc... great place.

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Photo of
4.31/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

My cab stopped right in front of this place, and I still almost missed it. Very unassuming storefront, in what looks like an office building. Very dark inside, and the closed sign in the window didn't help either. After my breathing slowed, I read the hours sign and realized I was 5 minutes before opening (12 noon).

Atmosphere is not a strong point for City Beer. Cement floors, small bar (4 or 5 stools) and fairly small overall. That said, a beer store where I can have a beer, priceless....

Quality is where things pick up nicely. 4 taps, one serving Moonlight. My day is getting better. The beer on tap was great, I will have to report back on the bottled selections, but the lack of dust and appropriate seasonals suggests no problems.

Service was great. They were very friendly, helped me find what I was looking for, offered suggestions for other stuff to try, etc. I was in a bit of a rush, so they took my order, and had it all packed up for me to pick up the following day.

Selection was quite good. Not as wide as some places I've been, but a great mix. Russian River, some Lost Abbey, the Moonlight on tap, and plenty of other CA product. I didn't spend much time looking at it, but the import selection wasn't lacking either.

Value was very reasonable, no complaints at all. If you want to pop a bottle and drink it there, the corkage fee is a whole $1.

Nice folks, good beer, stop in if you are anywhere near by.

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Photo of Maudite
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

JUst found out about this place luckily while driving by. I moved to the Bay Area this past summer from Austin, TX and have been sorely disappointed with the utter lack of places to either drink or buy good beer, and I mean other than California micros. This place is heaven to me. Sure, alot of the bottles are $5 and up, but that's the prices I'd expect. Having tried near a thousand different beers, I was shocked to find that there were so many beers here I had never even heard of. In addition to their great selection of beer (both warm and in coolers) they also have a few beers (4 I believe) on tap. You can have a pint while you peruse the bottle selection, or vice versa. You can buy a great bottle of just about anything and drink it there.

Downside: It is a very small building, space is limited and mostly taken up by beer (which is a plus!), and seating is scarce, so if you go to drink what you just bought, go prepared to stand. It gets crowded near the bar, so it's tough to get a pint, but the owners are two very friendly and knowledgeable folks who are more than willing to answer questions and offer suggestions.

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Photo of Natural510
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

I've been coming here regularly after getting a night job in the area, and the owners (especially Craig) are very knowledgable and open about what he orders & why.

That being said, the most popular/sought-after selections by local beer-lovers also go very quickly. Craig tells stories of entire cases being bought within hours of receiving the shipment, therefore first-time buyers may see the selections here as diverse, but light.
Still, it is inevitable any BA will go in & leave with at least five selections they will have a difficult time finding elsewhere.

The bottles rotate fast, so you are always going to receive a fresh selection of what is available. They are heavy on Belgians and California brews, but also carry German, British, Asian, Australian & selections from the rest of the world also. There's even PBR & Hamms for those of you who MUST have a macro.
There are six rotating taps of always-interesting selections.

The overall summary of CBS is, while you may not find exactly what you had hoped, you'll always find something you haven't had before, and in an extremely beer-positive environment.

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Photo of Normrdz
2.73/5  rDev -38.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 2

Got there on monday...Closed! I peeked in the window and said ok there must be more of the store that I'm not seeing here. Went back on tues. walked in and
thought...hmmm wheres the beer? Very small place with not much selection, at least not what I'm used to seeing. Thought to myself, dam I've got more beer in my cellar right now. Owner was friendly we chatted for a few as I looked over the beers. I really thought this place was going to be alot better after reading the reviews, kinda a let down. I really felt bad I couldn't find anything I really wanted to buy. small 3 seat bar with 3 or 4 taps. I didn't even check out what they had on tap. spent about 15 mins there and left.

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Photo of aforbes10
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Went here this afternoon after a long walk all around SF. Came in and there was a small bar with 5 taps on the left hand side (i noticed He'Brew 11 but forget the others. Two double coolers with cold beer and a corner wall of shelves with lots of RT stuff. Found some Russian River, Pizza Port, Hair of the Dog, all of which interested me. Extremely impressive collection of beers, lots of good imports (including a relatively complete J.W.Lees Vintage Harvest Ales lineup), some nice hard to find west coasters, cadre of beer geeks talking shop with the owner, tables at which to drink. Yeah, a nice little stop for beer-o-philes. Didnt buy much since i'm not in town long and cant take anything home, and i didnt talk to the guy minding the place because he was involved in conversation, but it was certainly a great store.

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Photo of mentor
4.28/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

On a decent sized street (Folsum) in downtown San Fransisco. Looking in the window as I approached, I was a bit concerned I'd gone to an over-hyped location. Upon entry, there was a cooler of beers to the right and a sall tap set-up with about four beers to the left. In an alcove past the tap was a few shelves plus another cooler of beer.

Examination of the beer selection revealed essentially no macro and a nice selection of craft and imports. Some decent local stuff, but not the killer selection I was hoping for. Seemed like a nice selection of belgian offerings, I don't care for the styles, so I don't really know which are the desired products.

Place had just a few patrons, all of which seemed to be cramped into the alcove, so it was a bit congested. The two people working a younger guy and gal, had positive attitudes, but seemed pre-occupied with other patrons. Upon questioning, they were helpful and I was even able to get a swig of Old Foghorn for free.

Prices here were a bit more than Plumpjack, located about a mile away. Plumpjack also had some beers that City Beer did not. But, City Beer had the better selection than Plumpjack (plus, I wonder how often the inventory turns over at Plumpjack).

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Photo of flexabull
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

Stopped by the City Beer Store last Friday night. I was very happy I did.

Small unassuming place, that was actually pretty crowded with a mixture of guys and girls hanging out sipping on tasty beers.

Quality is great. No crap here, everything is top notch. California is well represented, as is Belgium. I had a half pint of Double Bastard on draft.

Service was exceptional. Craig introduced himself to me, and chatted with my friend and I, he was very friendly, as was the girl working with him there.

Selection is impressive for such a small place. I didn't find everything I hoped I would, but I still walked out with a handful of excellent beers. I easily could have spent a lot of $$$ here.

Prices were fair, about what I expected to pay.

Highly recommended. I hope the City Beer Store is around for many years, it will be a must stop every time I am in SF from now on.

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Photo of Rzzzzz
4.51/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

If I never hear the phrase "friendly and knowledgeable staff" again it'll be too soon. There should be a moratorium on the use of that phrase in all advertising.

That said, if it ever applied to anyone, anywhere, this is the place.

When I first walked in I was a bit taken aback by how understated everything was. Small room, small bar with a few hand-scribbled tap handles, a scant few tables and a couple of comfy looking chairs. The next thing I noticed was that their refrigerator didn't seem to have much more than your avereage deli size selection of beer. Good stuff, obviously, but not much of it.

Then I glanced to the rear of the store and saw The Wall. Not huge, but stocked with such a wonderfully diverse selection of brews from around the globe. The reason my eyes didn't gravitate toward this at first was because it isn't lit. FINALLY, a beer store that knows how to protect the product.

But the biggest plus for me was's another way to say "friendly and knowledgeable staff"?

They know every beer they sell, and they know it well. They were all too happy to answer any question we came up with, including "why, among all these exotic beers, do you have a sixer of Hamms up there?" ("to keep it real").

Friend I was with had a bit of an upset stomach and when asked what he'd like, joked that he wouldn't be drinking unless they had some sort of tea beer. "as a matter of fact..." she said, and steered us to a Yerba Mate beer, which she assured us was quite tasty, so we split a bottle and damned if it wasn't quite tasty. Seemed to have cured his stomach woes as well.

Five taps total at the bar. I think I tasted Double Bastard, Mavericks and whatever Avery's Xmas brew is called.

To get the most out of this place go with a few friends & split the bottle + $1 corkage fee on as many as you can. Prices are maybe a tad higher than you'd pay elsewhere but worth it for the the effort these people put into it. And everyone in the place has one thing in common: they all love great beer.

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Photo of bboven
4.09/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4

The building itself is kind of cold and impersonal with little in the way of decor. There are a couple of lonely looking tables and a cement floor and plain walls. This is the only bad part of this place.

The duo that run the store are husband and wife and serve three or four beers on tap in the store by special license. You can also buy a cold bottle and drink it there for $1 charge. Hey, they've got to pay the fridge bills. Kudos to them for having this setup, as they are the only store in CA with taps and a drink-in-house option. Very entrepreneurial.

Small but great selection of beers. I managed to blow $100 or so and not buy any doubles. There's great conversation to be had and it's definitely cool to be sipping an awesome micro while you're deciding how many bombers you can afford.

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Photo of jp11801
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

stopped by on a lazy Sunday afternoon to find a great selection,particularly of Belgians. Craig was friendly and knowledgeable. Try the cheese plate when you stop by. You could put together a great belgian and mico selection for your home from here.
overall the atmosphere was plain but comfortabe with a bar and a couch.
the quality was top notch with many Belgians, German and micros there.
Prices were fair and about what you would expect from a highend beer store.
I would recommend this place to locals that need a great source for beer or for the traveling beer fan

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Photo of Onibubba
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Here comes another glowing review for City Beer. A highlight of my trip to SF was the fact that my friends live right next door to City Beer. Kismet. Out of the 5 kegs tapped, 3 were beers I had been hoping to try. Selection is not large, but the quality is impeccable. I got to try no less than 4 Russian River selections, and they had special ordered a case of Saison Dupont for me in advance. They will special order kegs as well - We got a keg of Hoegaarden for the weekend. Friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful - The Trifecta. I wish more businesses were run in this manner.

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Photo of chelovek
4.55/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

What a wonderful place this is! Small and compact but packs a punch with the good stuff. Two large coolers, two dry shelves, three beers on tap, three tables, a couch and a man behind the serving area that is as friendly as can be. The selection was great considering everything they had was of high quality (in my opinion and taste that is). I came in on a Saturday afternoon when it was a little busy but still received attention and answers to all of my questions I tossed his way. The woman behind the bar area also put together a great cheese sampler platter. With only a dollar "corkage" fee the prices were really reasonable to sit and have a beer on the spot. This place is abundant in quality and I will be back many a time.

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Photo of drseamus
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I had the same worry as the previous reviewer, that it was way too small to have good beer. I was wrong. They really pack in a really big variety into the tiny little place. They have a big selection of all the local beers and a pretty decent selection of the San Diego beers considering they have to drive them up themselves. The owner couldn't be more helpful if he tried. He gave me all the info he had on beers and when they would be arriving so I could come get them. When I asked for beers he didn't have in stock any more, he even suggested other beer stores around the area. In my opinion, that demonstrates the level of service. Definitely the best in the area.

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Photo of Lothore
3.94/5  rDev -10.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Walked into City Beer and was a little disappointed at how small it was thinking that it couldn't possibly have a good selection being so small ... I was wrong. They had quite a few offerings however I was particularly happy with their selection of Russian river and pizza port brews. The owner seemed to be really friendly and attentive to any questions I had. If I had more time I would have enjoyed some beers on tap but it looked like the people who were drinking there were enjoying it. A top notch beer store that I will certainly return to.

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Photo of trevorwideman
4.51/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

City Beer is an amazing store in SOMA that is a required stop on your beer tour of SF. Atmosphere is a little dank and industrial, and smaller than I imagined from the reviews. The quality of the selection cannot be underestimated, and the Owner has a great knowledge of the selections as well. He was very helpful in making my choices a bit easier. You can open any beer in the store and drink it there, which is cool. I took home 6 bottles to share and 2 to take home to Winnipeg, and walked away spending less than $40, even with 2 Russian River bottles in the mix. A great beer shopping experience.

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Photo of Flyer
4.66/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

Basically a basement, with a bare concrete floor and concrete block walls (though it's only half a flight down, so it does have windows). I point this out only to make the case that a place's "atmosphere" has a lot more to do with the attitude, the people, and of course great beer than it does with the physical surroundings, and the atmsophere here is great. This was the best beer bar experience I had in San Francisco. A fairly good-sized and discerning collection of beers, most in coolers for on- or off-premise drinking, plus a few great choices on tap. My drinking companion was new to world of craft beer, and he came away genuinely excited by the friendliness of Craig and all the patrons, and the non-intimidating way they answered all his questions. I'm going to make it a point to visit City Beer every time I go to SF.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.41/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Great place to pick up beer in San Francisco. I used to tavel out to the Bay Area once a month from Atlanta and I still make it out that way ocassionally. I'm pretty familiar with the local beer scene and availability of rarer local brews. Imo, City Beer Store and Ledgers in Berkeley are the places to go to get a dependable supply of the good local stuff. They almost always have the most recent Russian River offerings, rarer Lagunitas stuff like Hop Stoopid, and various hard to find botttlings from people like Drake's. More importantly to me, this store and Ledgers are two of the only stores in the Bay Area to carry many of the San Diego brews like Alesmith, Ballast Point, Greenflash, Lost Coast/Port Brewing, and even an occasional Alpine brew. Unlike Ledgers, this place will let you drink a beer on premise- something not even remotely possible in Georgia. As others have mentioned, there is a very reasonable $1 bottling charge, or you can have something on tap. I'd like to see something a little more killer on tap, but what was on was fine. They have a decent collection of Belgians as well, but I can get all of those and more at home- When I travel I wantt the local or regional stuff. The place is tiny, but open and airy feeling despite being slightly below street level. About 1/2 the beer is refrigerated, the rest on the shelf, but most of what is on the shelf duplicates what is in the cooler. The owner and his wife weren't there when I visited- an extremely rare occurrence apparently- since they were on vacation. Instead I was hosted by the owner's parents who had come out from Indiana to visit and watch their shop and apartment while they vacationed. They may not jhave known a lot about beer, but they were extremely friendly, great people whom I enjoyed talking with. I also was flabbergasted that they would help out to the degreee that they did- just shows you the caliber of people associated with this business. A wonderful place to hang out for a couple of hours or just pick up some brew. I'll be back next time I'm in town.

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Photo of 0tt0
4.43/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Visited on a recent trip to San Francisco for the purpose of stocking up on brews I can't find in Georgia. In this regard, City Beer Store did not disappoint. Coolers are broken down according to style, with many beers I've never laid eyes on.

Craig, the owner, and his wife Beth were extremelly friendly, helpful, and eager to please. Craig mentions they are working on shipping beers in the future, which would work very nicely for out-of-towners like me.

There were four taps in the building, which can be enjoyed at the tiny bar area or the three small tables. You can drink your purchases on site for a $1 corking fee per bottle (they give you the glass).

I would not hesitate to visit this establishment again. Great people to deal with...

A note on food: City Beer was offering a small selection of cheese, bread, and marinated olives on the day I visited. Cheese was outstanding.

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Photo of largadeer
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

City Beer Store is a staple in the San Francisco craft beer scene. Small, cozy, occasionally extremely cramped, they're overdue for expansion but do a decent job of keeping the atmosphere pleasant. Craig and Beth, the owners, are pretty friendly and helpful whenever I come by. While the tap selection is limited (usually 5 or 6 beers), the quality more than makes up for it. Largely comprised of local specialty beer, I've drank many a glass of world-class beer here. Excellent stuff that isn't commonly found on tap. In addition to this, there's an absolutely enormous variety of bottles beers, which you can either open and drink there or bring home to enjoy. The variety of rare and unique beers is nothing short of impressive. Prices are somewhat high, especially on the draft beers, but the selection can't be faulted.

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Photo of ctdfalconer
4.15/5  rDev -6.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Yep, it's a store that sells beer, sure enough. When one stops to consider this, one realizes what a rare treasure this is. There are an awful lot of places that sell lot of beer, some with great selections, but it's extremely rare to find a place that only sells beer (ok, I saw a cider) and deliberately accumulates as wide a selection as possible. I like the fact that they've also consciously excluded stuff that you can get at any grocery store, bodega, liquor mart or 7-11. They cater to beer connoisseurs, aficionados, and curious beventurers (Yes, you heard it here first. Tell all your friends!). The owner was enthusiastic and was open to requests and suggestions. The nondescript storefront is nonetheless airy and bright with its big windows (where most of the beer is, they keep it dark). A wee bar and a little sitting area encourages lingering over a glass for some serious beer talk. I would be here fairly often if I lived in SF.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This is my #1 spot for beer in the city, hands down, i've known Craig since he opened this place last year and in all honesty, it just keeps getting better and better...The atmosphere is great, nuevo-chic with a nice tasting bar and tables and very comfy black chairs. Craig always has something nice playing from his ipod on the speakers laced throughout the store. The quality of the beers is always exceptional with many beers being available cold or warm depending on the style and what mood you are in. Craig and his wife honestly run this place pretty flawlessly and as such the service has always been exceptional. The little wine and cheese plates are always fresh and made with local products from local and sustainable merchants which is another big plus in my book...The selection is arguable, and in my opinion definately, the best in the city with many one offs and rarities showing up regularly from the bay area breweries and beyond (LA area, San Diego area, etc) ...this is just the best place to go for rare alesmith, pizza port, russian river, cantillon, and the list could go on forever and ever, Craig has really done an excellent job with this place and I wish him luck in every aspect.

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Photo of Maerzen
4.44/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Thanks to all of the BAs that recommended this place. What a great selection of many different styles. Hip little store on Folsom in SoMa. It was quite busy and a bit difficult to get around as many people were taking their time and discussing possible selections with the knowledgeable staff. I felt a little bad for the patrons who were sitting at the bar as it is also where the cash register is. I would feel a little cramped sitting there. The only downside is that I think it is a bit pricey. I understand that they are providing products that are difficult to find. However, $5+ for a 12 oz. bottle equals $30+ for a sixpack. It makes me ask the question - Is the beer really worth that much, or are you pricing it to be that much so that I will think that it's worth it?

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Photo of illidurit
4.74/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Through beermail communication with Matt at Healthy Spirits I was elated to discover that there was a place in northern California that had AleSmith! City Beer Store, unassuming from the outside, packs a lot of excellence into not a lot of real estate. As I had to drive home afterwards, I was unable to take advantage of the really cool idea of sampling a beer (for a $1 corkage fee) before buying it, nor did I get to see what was on tap. However I made sure to get 6 750s, as I'd heard that 6 of a kind (750s, bombers or 12 oz bottles) gets you a 10% discount. The 6 comprised 3 Alesmiths, 2 Allagashes, and a Russian River, if that gives you any indication of the superb selection.

It was a bit busy and so I didn't really get a chance to have any extended conversation with the owner Craig, but he was friendly and knowledgable, and upon seeing me choose AleSmith's Speedway Stout and Grand Cru, he said he'd go in the back and get me the Wee Heavy, since there were no more on the shelf. I would have missed that epic beer without his attentiveness. I also saw him go over to a table and refill two customers' glasses of Celebrator doppelbock, what service!

I really liked this place and I'll be back again someday.

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City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
4.42 out of 5 based on 328 ratings.
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