Ales Unlimited


17 Reviews
Ales UnlimitedAles Unlimited

Type: Store

2398 Webster St
San Francisco, California, 94115-1807
United States

(415) 346-6849 | map

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Added by DoubleJ on 07-10-2011

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Reviews: 17 | Ratings: 32
Photo of TaxDork
4.41/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Having just moved from a place that was a half block away from City Beer, I was thrilled to stumble upon Ales Unlimited so close to my new place.

If you took a neighborhood convenience store and converted it into a bottle shop, you'd get this place. It's in a fairly small space on a quiet corner in Pac Heights. Parking on the surrounding streets is unmetered, but pretty hard to come by.

The selection is impressive given the somewhat cramped quarters. As other reviewers have pointed out, they carry a good mix of well known brands like Stone and Russian River as well as a wide variety of Belgians. I've definitely seen a number of breweries and releases on their shelves that I hadn't seen carried anywhere else in town.

My first time in I chatted for a while with Steve, who I think is the owner. He was super friendly and offered to try to acquire anything they don't currently carry. He also does good job of updating Twitter to let you know what has just hit their shelves.

One detail that I appreciate is that they post the Beer Advocate or Ratebeer scores for a large share of their stock. It's a small thing, but I like not having to pull out my iPhone when I'm figuring out which of a half dozen new Mikkeller releases is a can't miss.

The center of the store is made up of wine racks. I'll be curious to see if they eventually phase that out in favor of more beer shelves as they get more popular.

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Photo of GJ40
4.3/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

I stopped in while in SF on business. The space is small but it fits nicely in its residential area not all that far from the touristy areas. They were in the process of adding a large new refrigeration unit so it was a little chaotic but I think it's going to be a great addition. Despite the activity, the selection is pretty impressive and the atmosphere is very authentic. They had several from Russian River and lots of Belgians. The guy in the shop is very helpful and happy to talk beer. This place is well worth a visit.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.58/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Awesome selection of beers. I love it when I walk into a place and there are more new beers that I'd like to try than I am willing (or able) to carry out of the place on my trek home. The store from the outside is pretty unassuming really. But once you get inside and start perusing the aisles, you see that this is not your typical little store. Lots and lots of goodies here to try. I mean they even had Sink the Bismarck here. And oversized bottles from d'Chouffe I had never seen before. I think they were some holiday special or something. They also had Rayon Vert pretty much the day after it was officially released. I still haven't seen that beer in many places. I met the owner and we chatted it up a bit, which honestly, is not something I normally seek out. I just like to get my beer and head on out. But he was cool. He's got the love (clearly) for the brew and he's doing what he can to promote things and move it all forward. It's too bad there aren't more beer stores like this one, or that it was nearer to my place.

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.41/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I'm glad they finally added this spot for me. I found this place through City Beer Store after they had sold out of Black Butte XXIII. It took me a minute to find it after I called ahead. When I got there and introduced myself I was warmly greeted. My requests had been put aside and I got a nice little tour. They have a very nice selection in cramped quarters, but for the service and selection it is well worth it. The owner even told me he'd be willing to try and hunt down a few beers not normally shipped to CA. Kick ass sir. I'll go back soon.

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Photo of BigB415
4.41/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I received a gift card to this shop for christmas and decided to check it out last saturday. It's very easy to get to in the city since it's practically right off Lombard. Nothing like Healthy Spirits where you have to travel a ways to get to. Parking is pretty tough, I had to get a spot down the street and around the corner and I barely fit in that spot. The actual shop is pretty small, I think it's smaller then Healthy Spirits.

The service was great, there were 2 people working which is all you need in a shop this size. It was a man and a women. They were both very nice and the man was very eager to help which was nice since I needed it a few times. He even threw out some suggestions and told me about a few beers. The selection was nice, mainly belgium beers but there some beers like Stone, Ballast Point and Hair of the Dog.

My only quirk about this place which got me a little frustrated when I was in there shopping was that they don't put prices on their beers so I didn't know how much more than 3/4 of the beer stock cost. They had shelf talkers with a price on a few of the highly regarded beers.

Overall I really like this place. The employees were great, the stock was great and it's in an easy location in a good neighborhood. If they changed the whole price thing I'd be back more since I didn't recognize more than half the beer there. If you're in the neighborhood check it out.

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Photo of mactrail
4.14/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I found a better selection of unusual beers here than almost anywhere in the city except for the Jug Shop. They are especially strong in Belgians and have a thorough sampling of interesting brews and breweries from around the US. They seem to have an affinity for oddities.

I only found this place because I wrote down the actual street address. It seems to be called Ales Unlimited now, which much more accurately describes the business and the appeal to beer geeks. It's a tiny corner market space but a treasure hunt as you twist and squat among the narrow aisles.

For the tourist, this is in an interesting neighborhood just east of upper Fillmore where bus and trolley coach lines converge. Bring your backpack.

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

San Francisco's best kept secret for beer? Quite possibly so....

I was waking around on my own around Pacific Heights and suddently, my eyes were attracted to the Tripel Karmeliet tulips and bottles of Fuller's ESB cleanly displayed at the front window. It was an unusally hot day on April 1 (as a visitor, the joke must have been on me) and I needed an excuse to look at the beer inventory. I grabbed a bottle of water and before I knew it, temptation got the best of me and several bottles of beer went along with the purchase. While it's not a large store (in fact, the few aisels are very narrow), plenty of goods are packed inside. Wine and beer included.

I would say close to 50/50 of the beer's are stored in the fridge while others sits at room temp. Neatly displayed and free of dust and away from sunlight should translate to quality storage. Lots of Belgian and Americans on hand with some additional countries mixed in. Breweries like Russian River, The Bruery, Rodenbach, DeStruise, Malheur, AleSmith, Green Flash, Hair of the Dog, Hacker Pschorr, DeRanke, Abita, Grand Teton, Victory. Even some "rarities" here too, such as Black Albert and Marron Acidifie (which was on-sale prior to the release day, more on that later). As scary as it may sound, I found the selection to be nearly as good as City Beer Store sans the tap beer. Too bad the beer isn't labled with pricetags, or I would rate the service higher. Speaking of....

In this kind of store, you never know what kind of knowledge you're going to receive from the checker. When I had picked up the last bottle of Marron Acidifie, I was told that she couldn't sell it to me because that beer was accidently received and put on sale before the official release day. Then quickly, she spoke to someone of a higher power on the phone (presumably an owner) to see if she could indeed sell the beer to me. Long story short, she did. Afterwards, she told me "not to tell anyone" that Marron Acidifie was being sold here ahead of release time. It wasn't that move that justifies the service score; she also knew her way around different beer styles too.

The intersection of Jackson and Webster is quiet, yet provided a great surprise to this beer geek. Folks around Pacific Heights, what are you waiting for?

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Ales Unlimited in San Francisco, CA
4.48 out of 5 based on 32 ratings.
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