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City Beer Store

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City Beer StoreCity Beer Store
334 Ratings
City Beer StoreCity Beer Store

Type: Bar, Beer-to-go

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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Ratings: 334 |  Reviews: 199
Photo of Billolick
4.33/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Not far from the SF baseball park on the south side of downtown. Also just a few blocks from where you get onto the Bay Bridge, which is why we ended up checking this place out several times before heading to Berkeley to rest after eventful days visiting the city by the bay.

Just a step or two down from street level, this classy, and quality small place packs a beer punch with a few smaller cooler units and shelving stretching and bending along a few walls and corners. About 6 quality taps, cheese plates, extensive and well picked quality selections, including plenty of local, regional and national heavy weights and favorites. Pleasant to visit for a pint or two or to pick up a some quality bottles. I wish all towns had a place like this enjoy and feel the respect of beer in full force.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.3/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

All this talk about City Beer Store has me interested. Let's take a look inside;

It feels almost like a small cave, shielded away from the sunlight and the city. The interior is very simple; there's a small tasting bar pouring six beers from tap, several coolers off to one side, and another section of bottles stored at room temp. A few high tables are scattered around. Even in the middle of the afternoon, there were a couple groups of people drinking and one person taking notes of the beer he was drinking at the bar.

I would have loved to stick around for a glass of Mortification, but time was not on my side if I wanted to check out other places. The bottle selection is very good, beers like Kern River, Lost Abbey, Cascade, AleSmith, tons of Russian River and two day old Pliny. Many of the Belgians beers and six-packs sit at room temp. All the bottles are well marked with pricetags, a plus in my book.

Did it live to the hype? That's a tough call. City Beer Store is worth being talked because, well, it's a beer store with a lot of quality beer. And you can drink on premise, a bonus! Just don't let Tuong Lu Kim, owner of South Park's "City Wok", anywhere near, or risk the inevitable mispronuctiation of the word "city".

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Photo of woodychandler
4.22/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

From extensive notes dated, W, 29 July 2009.

First off, I loved that it was on Folsom, just up from Rausch! Johnny Cash plays Bamberg! Dude!

The entry was at the right end of a long windowfront and opened onto a set of steps leading down a half-flight. A couple of high, circular tables sat by the steps and window. A couple of armless leather chairs sat in front of the short wall created by the steps. Along the right wall was a three-door cooler filled (mostly) with bottles, fronted by a third, high circular table. Around a corner on the right side were a series of shelves for room-temperature bottles (remember, this was primarily a beer store). Along the left wall was a short bar with six rotating taps, followed by a second three-door cooler. One nice thing about all of that beer being in the coolers was that if you wanted to drink some there, they simply charged you a $1.00 corkage fee.

Now, a note on ambiance/aesthetics - this was the epitome of no-frills to include exposed cinder block walls, exposed piping and ducting and a concrete floor. I felt like the late-1980's, sitting in the late Jack Fleiner's garage at the foot of Bernal Heights (NOT to be confused with Outer Mission or Glen Park), drinking homemade wine with him and my Uncle Steve. Good times. R. I. P., Jack.

All of that said, it is the people that make a place and the young husband and wife team (Chris and Beth) were enthusiastic and energetic, plus they were getting a crowd of patrons who seemed extremely knowledgeable about beer. Definitely worth a visit!

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Photo of Sammy
4.4/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Looks like a grocery store when you first pass by. I need parking if you want me to buy multi-bottles. Enter, and 2 coolers and several shelves of beer; a few tables, a small bar. What's on tap? Had to ask tap by tap, gave up quickly, as objective was to get several bottles for hotel room stay. Bout half the bottles were Belgians, Quebec beers I have had. The other half included some very hard-to-gets had had me drooling. Took the best of the lot, a small percentage of my wish list. Almost everything was sold out, the Net List being quickly out of date.

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Photo of jaydoc
3.67/5  rDev -17.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5

Visited during the early afternoon on a Sunday. The selection was exceptional and layout was good. They were understaffed and were very slow with service. I heard several other customers complaining about this as well. They had a great vintage cooler selection, beers from which must be consumed on the premises. Other than the service the store was fantastic. I would revisit to give it a second chance.

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Photo of GJ40
4.06/5  rDev -8.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

An interesting combination of a beer bar and a beer store. I stopped in during a business trip to pick up a few local beers to take home.

The atmosphere is very comfortable. The store consists of a couple of refrigerated units and a large shelf area. The selection isn't huge but it's got a good mix and beers from the US and Europe. I was pleased to find Russian River's Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig. I had specifically been looking for Pliny.

The bar consists of a small bar and several tables. The crowd is pretty artsy and based on the beers being consumed, into their beer.

The woman behind the bar was very nice and quite helpful. The prices aren't cheap but I doubt much is in SF.

City Beer Store isn't in an attractive area and it doesn't have a huge selection but it's dedicated to good beer and for that, deserves a visit.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.88/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Fantastic store. I have order stuff from here several times and they are always the best when it comes to service. Kind and couteous and always willing to work with me. One of the best selections of beers I have ever come across and prices that seemed to be right about where they should be. Overall a pleasant expierence on every level possible. One of the best for sure.

Let us also not forget the fact that they keep one of the best tap lists on the planet! You really cannot go wrong here. Give them a show when in the area.

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Photo of StoutSnob40
4.68/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5

Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

Photo of dirtylou
4.04/5  rDev -9.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

For some reason I was expecting something much larger... ~10 taps, a few coolers and dry-shelves of to-go product and a goldmine cooler of vintage and out-of-network bottles for on-site consumption.

A little pricey on the taps, but while the bottle shop/bar hybrid may be huge in the NW, I understand there aren't too many peers in SF. Everything looked pretty well maintained - a few almanac bottles on the shelf, supplication, but not anything else of considerable rarity. I think this place gets picked over a bit.

Good spot, but dime a dozen in Portland/Seattle

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Photo of GRG1313
4.39/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Update: Visited the expanded CBS and was most impressed. First, Nick was behind the bar and completely made up for the lack of attention I got the first time in. (Other guy still ignored me but Nick was so nice he made up for it). Great expanded place; great selection of bottles and expanded taps. Cantillon St. Lamvinus on tap and Figero from Cascade on tap. Wow. Two rare and wonderful things. Gotta raise the grade for that. So, 4 months after first review I definitely give the place better marks.


Original review:I fear that the rating for this store is more of a reflection of city pride than quality. I want to be clear that I placed a relatively large order from City Beer and they could not have been more accomodating. (It was a special release and they took nice care of me). I was really looking forward to going in, especially in light of the ratings.

Finally made it in and, respectfully, was less than impressed.

Very small industrial space with a few taps (6 as I recall) of decent beer but nothing worth a special trip.

Selection is modest, at best. There was nothing there that could not be found at most decent beer stores with which I'm familiar and frequent. The average Vendome in southern California has a selection at least twice as large. A decent selection but hardly more than average and certainly little, if anything, that one can't purchase at a myriad of other places.

Staff and owner was "professional" in that I got the perfunctory "can I help you find anything" but little more. Neither Craig or the other staff member desired to engage in any beer talk and expressed little interest in sharing information. Craig did say that nothing was in back and all was on the shelves.

Craig was friendly and helpful on the phone during our initial transaction. I actually brought from my cellar some rare and hard to get sours and wild ales to share with him. However, he seemed so intent on avoiding me that we never had the chance. I purchased three bottles of new releases that I will be able to get locally but didn't want to leave empty handed since I waited over an hour for it to open with my wife and daughter being pissed at me! I could never let them know that it was a total bust.

Anyway, if you need a decent bottle of beer in SF or a drink this place will do the job. However, in my opinion (and having little to do with the service) judging only on selection this is an average place and a bit of a disappointment to me. Not worth a special trip.
My opinion only.

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Photo of nickfl
4.2/5  rDev -5.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This is an interesting little place. They seem to mostly be a tiny bottle shop, but they have a few tables where you can sample what is on their six taps, or drink any of the bottles that you buy there.

They seem to have a good selection, certainly they are a top tier bottle shop. I was really happy with what I was able to find there since I was visiting from the east coast, though I don't know how they compare to other bottle shops in the area.

The service was the ideal combination of helpful, but unobtrusive. They could answer one's questions but knew when to leave you alone.

This is a really neat little place to stock up on bottles and enjoy a pint or two while you are at it. I don't know that I would head there for evening drinking however, since it seems like such a small place would easily become overcrowded.

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

One of the best stops in San Francisco. Not too bad as far as bus routes and a little walking. Nice underground-like location. Good range of beers here in this intimate little bottle shop. A few tables exist for drinking on premises, but they can easily be entirely occupied on a busy night. You can choose from a few excellent draft options or just go with the bottles, and the bottled selections were all of the stuff that a craft beer enthusiast would covet.

Staff was knowledgeable and friendly. Decent restrooms too. Loved the small business vibe, with owners that actually work in the store. That's so rare these days.

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Photo of orangesol
4.34/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

Tried to stop at Monk's Kettle but they were too packed thanks to a PTY event so we decided to go here a little earlier than I was planning, oh well. Atmosphere was solid all around. Bottle shop area to the left is informal with bottles on shelves and coolers all over the place. Bar area off to the right had plenty of people enjoying beers and talking amongst themselves, we were lucky to get a table as they quickly filled up once we got situated. Service was great. Girl behind the bar got my beers quickly and was nice to talk to. Quality was top notch all around. Selection on drafts was a little light but they were all top notch so it more than made up for it. The bottles on offer were pretty insane as well. Food was nearly non existent but the charcuterie we got was really good. Prices were comparable across the board to the other places I have visited. Overall an awesome bottle shop / beer bar combo.

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Photo of greenspointexas
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

Photo of mrcraft
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.

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Photo of aoampm
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.6/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

This is a really cool place that is worth a visit for a pint but also worth a visit to see what the bottle shop might have. When I was there, there were a few solid bottles available but nothing overly rare or limited. I would guess that their inventory gets picked over pretty quickly given its location and the great tap list they have.

As for the bar area, it was really cool. Small place with a great atmosphere and friendly and knowledgeable service. There were about 10 taps but the quality was fantastic. Blind Pig, 2011 Supplication and Salvation were among the beers on tap when I was there.

Makes sure you stop here for a pint when you are in SF.

 660 characters

Photo of francisweizen
4.75/5  rDev +6.7%
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 RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev -2.7%
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 metter98
4.17/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Photo of Iamjeff6
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Photo of Sludgeman
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

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Photo of SimcoeKid
4.48/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

Photo of halo3one
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%

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City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA
Place rating: 4.45 out of 5 with 334 ratings
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