City Beer Store

BA SCORE
97
world-class

328 Ratings
City Beer StoreCity Beer Store
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Store

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

(415) 503-1033 | map
citybeerstore.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-08-2006

PLACE STATS
Score:
97
Ratings:
328
Reviews:
197
Avg:
4.4
pDev:
7.5%
 
 
Taps:
15
Bottles/Cans:
300
Cask:
Y
Beer-to-Go:
N
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 328 |  Reviews: 197
Photo of pisano
4.64/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I lived in SF for several years after grad school and I'm proud to say this is one of the establishments I used to frequent when I was first getting into craft beer. Craig and Beth are two of the kindest people you'll ever meet and they run one of the most outstanding beer stores I've ever visited. It's awesome to see the success they're having with City Beer and I hope this success only continues for them. If you're a craft beer lover and happen to be in SF at any point, this place is a must.

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Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
4.21/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Always something great and unusual on tap. Some true "whalz" and gems during beer events and SF Beer Week.

They gotten a bit greedy since the expansion. Corkage fees on every bottle opened and everything on tap is at not moderately priced, but you truly are in a beer bar whereas the atmosphere is fantastic when it's not crowded. Events, Friday nights and weekends can get cramped.

I also find it quite a bit annoying the selection they have behind the counter which is "In store only" beers, whereas quite a few I've seen are IPAs and DIPAs. I'm assuming past freshness that I'd prefer.

Besides a few gripes, a must visit for any beer-head and when Craig and Beth are not overwhelmed, they're knowledgeable and friendly. Wish Heather was still there...

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Photo of arizcards
4.37/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

Stopped in today after a trip to Marin BC.

Atmosphere was good. One steps down to enter from the street which is just the other side of downtown in a not so great neighborhood.

Beer quality was very good. Nice bottle selection ranging from west coast including Midnight Sun and Anchorage to Boulevard to Pretty Things. There were around 12 beers on tap including DuPont Saison Saison and Midnight Sun Red IPA to name a few.

Service was friendly and knowledgeable. I went in looking for a couple bottles of Pliny and learned they just sold out. But the young lady explaining today explained when the best time is to score some (Wednesday after 3). Ended up scoring brews from the aforementioned breweries.

Selection was very good in bottles and pretty good taps were to be had.

Overall the prices were good for San Francisco. I would have stayed longer and had a pint but Da Boss was ready to roll. Definitely stop if you are in the Union Square area.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.15/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

walking down into a basement-type setting, considering the size of the room it's a wide open space (kinda horseshoe-shaped) to navigate, bar on the right half, bottles on the left mostly - cool, comfortable atmosphere.... dark, plywood, concrete, pipes, metal - i could see this being uncomfortable in cooler weather, ideal in hotter (but this is SF we're talking about here...).... the keg room is visible to the back of the bar.... gummy bartop the best thing.... very pleasant yet impersonal(?) vibe, professional crowd

a damn shitload of hoppy beer in bottles (maybe as much as 3/4 of the beer?!?!) - surprisingly not enough West Coast beer (at least, being from Philly, WC stuff that's new to me), large representation of the DuPont range (that's novel).... mind-blowing, hilariously-overpriced "vintage" bottle list.... this is my first experience with a "corkage" fee and, no sir, I don't like it - a $ to pull off a cap?! - maybe it's figured into the price at places out here? who knows?

15 great drafts actually, nice variety in style - I didn't have anything spectacular, a wheat IPA and a Brown ale, both good for what they were, a lot of the other drafts I'd had elsewhere

food? crappy fatty nosh - some caramel bacon crud and something else, I forget, sorry - none of the grub inspired my sustenance-centric appetite.... the service was fine, the staff responded when you engaged them - all pleasant demeanor, doing their jobs

hey, if you've never been, definitely check the spot out once - it might be your thing

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Photo of WesM63
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

I visited CIty Beer during May 2013.

A: Atmosphere was typical. Lots of chatter, but more beer centric.

Q: Quality was excellent. Fresh bottles and small tap list.

S: Service was spot on. Both bar tenders were attentive and willing to recommend me selections.

S: Selection, A relatively small tap last 8-10 beers but all excellent. 2012 vintages of RR Sours, Drakes Aroma Coma and a handful of other Bay Area beers. The bottle list was average, although they had some rare bottles behind the bar for a premium price. (Also must be consumed on premise)

F: No food available. I saw a few people brought pizza in but no menu or recommendation of where food could be purchased.

V: Value was very reasonable. $6/$7 pints and the normal bottles were priced as expected $7-$10/ 22oz bombers) I didn't inquire about the rare bottles but I was told $20+ depending on what you were after. ($60/per Cantillon)

O: Overall ,this is another must visit places around the city. I was lucky enough to sit next to a local at the bar who provided excellent beer geek conversation (Thanks Cody!). While he recommended Toranado as the MUST visit, City Beer was well worth the trip. The upside was I was able to purchase a few bottles and head back to the hotel. Sadly, the bottle selection was nothing I didn't have access to at home (or via the net). RR stuff was few and far between, Bay Area stuff was hit or miss as well as the rest of California brews. At any rate, well worth the trip and I would defiantly recommend visiting. Just be sure to eat before hand or take something with you.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.44/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Visited on 3/21/13 when I was in San Francisco for a conference. City Beer Store was, without any remotely close competition, the highlight of my trip.

Atmosphere: The store itself is not in a pretty area of San Francisco, but I won't judge the establishment for its unfortunate location. Stepping down the stairs into the City Beer Store is like stepping out of the city into a cave of solitude. Dark, yet very clean, and smaller than I expected. There's a small bar, some tables, and a number of shelves and fridges with beer. They have dedicated areas, including a fridge for IPAs and a fridge for sours, which was quite awesome. The staff were friendly. The place was not busy, but I was there right there after they opened at noon. Overall, a bit dark, except for the sun coming in from the street, which was shining on bottles (not ideal).

Quality: Fresh bottles, with many stored in fridges. Small tap list, but that certainly adds to the freshness.

Service: The woman in the bottles area was extremely helpful in giving me a tour of the store and giving me some recommendations of beers that I have never heard of. I don't know if these recommendations were any good, as my bottles are still in transit, but I will assume they were decent. The guy behind the bar was also friendly.

Selection: The emphasis of this store seemed to be quality over quantity. Honestly, the selection wasn't that huge. Something like 6 big shelves, and 6 fridges. I was happy to find some Russian River, Midnight Sun, Drake's, and Deschutes (all certainly unavailable on the East Coast). I didn't have any issues blowing $90 here. Oops. I got Supplication on tap after shopping, which was quite memorable.

Value: Compared to pricing in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the prices seemed pretty reasonable. Tap prices were also fair.

Final comments: It's worth fighting through the hoards of the living homeless to visit this lovely beer store.

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Photo of Hopsiam14
4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

This place is amazing. They don't have a ton of taps but what they do have is really high quality stuff. I had an '08 Serpent Stout and a few other really impressive taps. The place has a really laid back feel and a ton of bottles to pick from. I got there on the day of a Pliny shipment which was also really cool. I cannot say enough good things about the place!

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Photo of 604growler
4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Well, what other place can you walk around drinking Dogfish Head 120 minute on tap while perusing the best selection I've ever seen. Walked out of there with Alesmith Speedway stout, Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout, Highwater Campfire Stout, Sculpin, DFH Punkin, Alesmith Wee Heavy. What more need be said? Well also that two lovely and friendly women were the servers. I plan to go back to the bar to try some more of the taps. The only way to push this place over the top would be to get more space, but still, what more could they offer? It's all there. I had to leave Pliny on the shelf.

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Photo of JosephThompson
4.56/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Visited on September 9 during my road trip of the States. The space isn't that large but they packed a nice sized selection into it, with options for a chilled or room temp version of the beer you want.

Seem to remember four five level racks along with six to eight coolers. It's a good spot because they don't overwhelm you with quantity of each beer like other places (usually there's one or two bottles of each beer constantly refilled when bought) so when you see the number of bottles it truly speaks to quality.

The bar seats roughly 10 with seating along the walls for another eight to 10. Tap selection was good and filled out from all across the country. Service on my visit was very good both from behind the bar and on the floor.

Picked up a Knee Deep Hoptologist and Logsdon Kili Wit. The former I know can be found around but not so much for an east coaster and the latter certainly can't be found on this side. Limited my bottles here because I spent the dollars on the taps instead but know that I left some goodies behind on the shelves.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

I had another review of City Beer ready to go, but now that they've *finally* enlarged the premises to an appropriate size for a bar, I guess it's time for a new review.

There is a lot more space here now. No more sitting on planks placed on top of kegs or squeezing into the miniscule space of old. We've got more room to move, and more important than that, we've got a lot more taps to choose from. We're up to, what is it now, 10 or 12 taps? This works better than how there were 4 previously. I mean, sure Spuyten Duyvil had a minor amount of taps, but they also had atmosphere. City Beer was always lacking in the latter. It's a nicer setup now that doesn't scream urban functional. Service now seems mixed to me. One of the guys is a total asshole to me every time I come in now. I noticed the coolers behind the bar carrying some extremely rare and interesting beers. I asked if they were available for purchase to take-out. He went into some discourse about beer not being a commodity or some shit like that. Give me a break already. Here's a fact: you're a pretentious dipshit when you're preaching to your patrons and talking down to them. Go fuck yaself. Dick. All I want is to show up and drop some (hard earned) coin on some beers and enjoy my free time. But apparently some people don't give a shit about that. (Others are more chill and welcoming.) Bottom line is that with the new expansion, City Beer is looking better now than in its over-glorified days. Things are looking much more legitimately respectable.

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Photo of willandperry
5/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I have not actually been to this store, but I had a friend who was visiting the area, who agreed to visit this store and mule some beer for me. whenever my friend showed up, he called me, and long story short, this guy from the store(connor) talked to me on the phone and told me good beers they had and recommended many different types. I had many beers I was ISO and he was patient and answered all my questions for probably 10 mins.
Incredible service! I hope to visit in person one day, as it seems that they have some awesome beers that are only to be drunk on premise(cantillon, vintages).

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Photo of heymikew
4.36/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Best beer selection in San Francisco

This is the go-to place when you're looking for your craft favorite or even some hard to find or obscure beer. If they don't have it, they'll try to get it for you.

They recently expanded their space into the shop next door, doubling the size and increasing the number of taps. Increased popularity seems to have followed because it's even more crowded now than ever. Good for bellying up to the bar and getting into a serious beer conversation, but...

If you want to seriously shop, the best time to go is daytime mid-week.

Sometimes I miss the early days when it was just owner Craig and/or his wife Beth minding the shop when traffic was light and they could give you their undivided attention.

The now expanded staff is helpful and quite knowledgeable though.

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Photo of 2dogbrew
4.94/5  rDev +12.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

What a find - I didn't actually check the BA reviews on this place before I went there, but most are spot on. An excellent selection of beers - just got there when fresh Pliny the Elder was delivered. Bought a couple of beers to bring home and had an excellent draft. They have an amazing selection of bottles for consumption on premise, most are pricey as noted but almost all are hard to find. So worth it if you want to try.

Staff is very knowledgeable and friendly.

Not too busy when I was there, but it was 1pm on a Wednesday.

Highly recommended.

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Photo of WeedKing4
4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Visited here a couple times while in the San Francisco area. This store was awesome. Fantastic bottle selection for you to buy and take home. They had some amazing beers in a different cooler that you had to drink there, which I had no problem with. They were a little pricey, but they were rare beers so I totally understand the prices with that. I bought a 750ml bottle of Russian River Temptation, batch 4. They also had beer on tap!! Great selection too. This store fucking rules. Wish I never had to leave.

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Photo of boltfan
4.94/5  rDev +12.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Stopped at this place on my vacation to SF last weekend. I loved being able to go to the bar and get a beer and walk around with a drink while I figured out what I wanted to buy. The guy working the bottle section of the shop was awesome. Very knowledgeable and friendly. They had a great selection including a decent variety of eclipse, mikkeller, 3 Fonteinen etc.

The only thing was that the beer at the bar was a little on the pricey side. I got a 5 or 6 oz tulip of bitches brew and my gf got a tulip of Stillwater Wine barrel aged Folklore Stout which I think came out to $20. Still loved the place tho. They also had some awesome rare bottles in the fridge behind the bar which were a little outside of what I wanted to spend. I really wanted to try the beatification but just couldn't spend the money on it. I believe it was around $60. Definitely worth the stop to anybody in the area.

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Photo of LeeMarvin
4.86/5  rDev +10.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

My main focus of an entire day was to try this beer venue, and I'm glad I did. They have an amazing selection with an atmosphere full of people who are at least aware of the craft beer movement and its importance. Half of it is a beer store and half of it's a bar, so how can you lose?

It only gets 4.5 for service because this place gets BUSY, even early in the afternoon, and for two people to manage this kind of OCD about beer is too much to ask of any beer service team. I arrived at 12:30pm and the place filled up fast after that. The sign of a great bar. The bartender himself was a beer advocate, and his knowledge of beers from throughout the nation and world qualified him as an expert on the subject. He was able to advise me on my next beer steps throughout the city and even gave me advice about biking in the area. I'll definitely be back.

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Photo of MexicanSkittel
5/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I love tHis place, always something delicious on tap, vintage, new releases, and tasty treats. Some are a little pricey for me for such small pours, but I understand via the rarity of them.
Bottle selection is pretty vast and covers a lot of styles, countries, sized and prices.
Service is or has been to me always friendly and helpful.
Aside from it being on the other side of town from me I'd be there every day. So with the distance making it there once a week makes it such a treat.
Thanks
Keep up the great work everyone.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
4.7/5  rDev +6.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Headed down here on a recent business trip to SF. Was impressed enough to put up a review.

A little bit of background: The first time I happened upon City Beer Store was back in September of 2010. To say I was nonplussed would be overstating the fact. I spent 5 minutes in the store and skedaddled. It was small, the selection, while good, was far from expansive, and it struck me as a rather mundane stop in the scheme of things. (At that time, I would wager all Portlanders judged beer stores by Belmont Station.)

2012 and a renovation has brought on big changes, and City Beer Store deserves kudos for it. Showed up on a Wednesday night, and there was a good beer geek vibe without being crowded. Taps on the right from the entrance, with a very good selection. (Sadly, I had carry-on luggage only so I couldn't take home some of the goods which caught my eye.) Had I taken the opportunity, I could've filled up a suitcase. (This is no doubt helped by the current burst of local SF breweries, as well.) Huge difference here, and the presentation and vibe of City Beer Store do deserve 4.5's and 5.0's.

So, then, it was to the taps. It was a good night to stop in. Started with a reasonably priced snifter of Speakeasy's Scarface RIS after a good conversation with the bartender to narrow down my selection, then I followed it up with a snifter of 2007 Stone IRS. Not. Bad. I would've liked to have drunk most everything on the board, but I promised to limit myself to two. So, 5.0 there.

No food as far as I could tell, and as I had already eaten, I didn't ask about the policy.

In closing, i still rate all stores by Belmont Station because it was my first standard bearer, and they've continued to be a focal point for the PDX beer scene, even with numerous, and excellent, competitors. City Beer Store is definitely in the same tier. Well done.

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Photo of Torontoblue
3.66/5  rDev -16.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4

Visited 4th Feb 2012.

Nice little concept of bottle shop and tasting room. Great selection of taps were available when I visited. After waiting a while at the not busy bar (server thought changing music on the iPod was more important than serving beer, and then took orders from someone who arrived after me), I opted for the Heretic Evil Twin & Highwater Apholic BBL Baltic Porter (served way too cold). Prices were slightly on the high side, but still nice to have a beer whilst browsing the well stocked fridges and shelves.

Good selection of bottles for such a small place. All nicely presented and arranged in style. Again, prices were on the high side, for my liking and also compared with other bottle shops recently visited.

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Photo of ThirstyHerf
5/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

A-What a gem of a store here in San Fran!

Q & Sel-Great but small tap selection. Extremely nice selection of bottles to go but an even more impressive selection of ages bottles that had to be drank on premises.

S-Connor and the rest of the staff was extremely knowledgeable and awesome to hand out with. Also, the day i made t to City beer there just happened to be a very nice Belgian styles tasting going on and was able to take part. AWESOME!

F- Ok, so there wasnt any food at City beer, however there is a killer sandwich shop down the street. Fortunately for me, with the belgian tasting came a large supply of aged Gouda.

If you are in town, I highly recommend stopping by this fine establishment but be sure to have some scrilla, its gonna cost you and arm and a leg, but you will be happy to pay for that batch 1 consecration!

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Photo of elNopalero
4.94/5  rDev +12.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

This is perhaps my absolute favorite beer store in the universe.

I honestly cannot afford to visit here on a regular basis so when I do it’s a real treat. Well-lit, well-stocked, and Beth and Craig, the couple behind it all, are just all-around fantastic people. More on that later.

Their recent remodel added more shelves and refrigerators full of beer to the place as well as expanded their tap handles—without making it seem any more spacious. But I think that’s just because they remain just as busy as ever. A sign to their success, as much as evidence of the growing craft beer scene. This is every bit how a bottle shop and tasting room should be.

For me, Beth and Craig make City Beer Store what it is. There’s not a lot of places that offer such a wide selection of beers, or allow one to taste on premise and take something to go. Certainly they’re unique but not the only ones on the scene. So when I say that I’d be a regular no matter what sort of operation they ran, I mean it. They could sell auto parts or brew gourmet coffee or run a furniture store slash cardboard box manufacturing factory but on the strength of their customer service alone I’d find a way to return. (Even if my tiny apartment would end up getting filled with fancy engraved chairs from the 17th century and the boxes to hold them in.) One of the reasons I like visiting so much is that I feel welcomed every time they’re there. Simple gestures like eye contact, greetings, and an acknowledgement on the busiest of days goes such a long way and I wish more places would realize that.

Since I moved away from the bay I don’t stop in as often as I once did. In fact, I’m guessing it had been around nine months since I last visited, and maybe another six months between that and my previous trip. But the last time I was in the bay I managed to go twice. I dropped in, briefly, on a rainy Friday night. They were packed for a bottle release so my companion and I opted to get dinner first then return—but didn’t. I came back mid-day the following week. Didn’t have enough time to sit down and try anything (believe me, that was hard not to do!) but I had a few minutes to peruse the selection (and drool over the rarities behind the counter). Craig snuck away from what he was doing long enough to make small talk and see how I was doing—mentioning in passing something like ‘it’s been a while since we’ve seen you. Welcome back.’ It was nice to hear. There’s a dozen other places I count as regular haunts and I’d be hard pressed to find the same level of recognition and reception at half of them. I know I’ll be back. Not soon enough.

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Photo of wagenvolks
4.74/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Hit up City Beer Store during the last day of my San Francsico visit. Very, very glad I did.

Industrial feel to the place, with a cement floor, wooden and metal benches and chairs. Seating is somewhat limited. Service was excellent, bartenders definitely knew their stuff and despite the crowd were able to keep the order flowing smoothly.

As a beer bar, City Beer Store has a meager, yet very polished tap selection. About 12-15 taps in all, but nearly every one a gem (and rotating constantly, I'm told). Bear Republic Tartare Berliner Weiss ($7 for 7oz) was the highlight, and it was joined by the likes of '08 ($5 for 5 oz), '10 ($6 for 7oz), and '11 ($8 for 12oz?) Deschutes Abyss, '08 Lost Abbey Ten Commandments, Ballast Point Sculpin, Cascade Sang Rouge, Stillwater Rule of Thirds, and De Ranke Pere Noel.

The bottle list behind the bar is extensive, expensive, and exciting for any beer geek. Bottles must be opened on-site, and I gladly emptied my wallet for the likes of Russian River's Framboise for a Cure ($20), Midnight Sun Arctic Devil ($30), and Firestone Walker Parabola ($30). Other notables included several Cantillons, Bruery releases (Cuir, Partridge--$80 or $100!!), and vintage Russian Rivers.

As a beer store, this place was much more reasonably priced vs. the tap/bottle selection at the bar. I grabbed some week-old Pliny, RR Temptation, Speedway Stout, and Midnight Sun Mayhem IIPA. Selection wasn't endless, but it surely felt that way.

Only negatives include: Friday night and the last call was at 9:30--bar closed up shop at 10. Also, there is no longer food served there, but you can order some delicious $6 sausages from a gourmet joint down the street. You can also bring in any food you'd like.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.46/5  rDev -21.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4

In a difficult location to find in SF, alleyways and whatnot, not apparent where it is from the front of the place. Inside, go down a few steps, its very small, some what looks like brewing equipment behind the bar area, and a very small area for bottles to the left of that stuff. Really, its about the size of a utility rental in the downtown area.

Found bottles of Damnation 23 and ffac here. Only the 23 was available to go, why, I have no idea. Kind of frustrating when you don't have the time and be part of the scene, and you'd just like to grab your beer and go.

Some decent options, but given the price and the location, I doubt I'll roll into this place again unless I happen to already be in the area. Frankly, Ledgers & Monument Liquors are better options unless you want to do some on premises drinking.

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Photo of Heavenisbeer
4.44/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

Checked this place out after reading reviews of it on BA. Slipped in on a recent Saturday afternoon and got to shopping. I was really excited to find some rarities but I didn't come across many. This was really my only complaint. They had some Cantillon, etc. to purchase and drink there, but not much that I was really excited about being able to leave with. Picked up a couple sours and a Stone.

The atmosphere was nice though and the service was excellent--knowledgeable and attentive. I'll surely be returning soon to hang out and enjoy some brews in the store.

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Photo of dgilks
4.16/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

City Beer Store is a little gem in San Francisco. It was the first place I hit during my travels and I wasn't disappointed to be at the Almanac Summer 2010 release at City Beer Store. I started off there a little earlier in the afternoon to check out their impressive selection of craft beer and have a couple of nice beers on tap. The atmosphere is obviously a little cramped given that the area can't be more than 300 square feet but the staff seem knowledgeable and the product is well kept. Overall, a great little beer store and I hope it continues to thrive.

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