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Ales Unlimited

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Ales UnlimitedAles Unlimited
33 Ratings
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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Ratings: 33 |  Reviews: 18
Photo of DoubleJ
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%
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?

 2,278 characters

Photo of GJ40
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

 528 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
4.25/5  rDev -4.9%

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

 1,033 characters

Photo of halo3one
4/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of flexabull
4.23/5  rDev -5.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Founds this place while out on a morning walk, returned later in the afternoon to check it out.

Small tiny little corner store that is packed to the gills with high quality beers and wine. It was almost too small when a couple of other patrons came in to shop with me. But it's a really cool looking place.

Quality is top notch, only high quality craft here.

Service was good. As usual in a beer store, I rarely ask for help, but the guy was friendly and talkative when I checked out.

Selection is good, and impressive for such a small place. My only minor complaint was the selection seemed mostly import heavy, and there wasn't a whole lot of local craft.

Prices were fair for most everything I saw.

Overall, a very nice little beer store. Especially if you are looking for imports.

 791 characters

Photo of LittleDon
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%

I have to a agree with a few of the other posters, probably my favorite bottle shop in SF. Small, but well stocked. When I was there it was like a treasure hunt, seeing what might be lurking behind some of the bottles. I also had fun talking with the owner, who was very enthusiastic about what she liked.

 305 characters

Photo of mactrail
4.14/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

 718 characters

Photo of brewandbbq
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Great little place with tons of great beer. You would never know what this place was about just passing by. Tiny interior with just a lot of great beer-domestic and imports. The owners a helluva nice guy and he's really into it for the love of beer.

Highly recommended.

 271 characters

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

Photo of spark3148857
4/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of ItsYourBoyBlue
4.59/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

Photo of Flabbyjandro
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
5/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I found this place while searching for a beer on beermenus.com. This was the only store in the Bay Area I could find that seemed to have was I was looking for, so I came in to see if they actually carried it. Not only did they carry it, but they also carried a huge selection of other very good beer.

This store is relatively new, which explains why I haven’t heard of it before (and why there aren’t that many reviews yet on BA). The selection is fantastic. I saw a number of beers here that I couldn’t find at Healthy Spirits, and overall, I think the selection here is as great as the selection at Healthy Spirits, if not better. Prices are reasonable as well. If it means anything, beermenus.com shows they carry 921 beers as of this review compared to 788 at Healthy Spirits. They recommend following them on Twitter or Facebook for the latest updates.

The Steve and Betty are extremely friendly, and very helpful. They recommended some very good beer based on my tastes that I may not have otherwise found in their huge selection. I found them to be interesting to chat with, and very willing to go out of their way for me if I had any requests.

Overall, I feel this is the top beer store in the Bay Area. Definitely worth checking out!

Edit: I went there recently near closing time because it took me a while find parking, and the owner said he'd be happy to stay open longer for me. Not only did he keep the store open, but after talking with him about what I liked, and after he learneded I genuinely appreciated great stouts, he found me a Black Tuesday, along with a few other rare gems! With that kind of service (and hard to find beer), how can they not get a 5?

 1,688 characters

Photo of Rutager
4.66/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

The girl that helped me was so awesome. She even offered me something special from the back. Great store!!

106 characters

Photo of TheBlueJerzzzz
3.36/5  rDev -24.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3

Photo of BigB415
4.41/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

 1,410 characters

Photo of Fogindex
4.04/5  rDev -9.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4

Photo of senglish7
4.94/5  rDev +10.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Photo of Bum4ever
4.74/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Awesome small bottle shop. Great selection of aged stouts and some tough to get brews. Great knowledge by the woman behind the counter. Picked up my first KBS there. Will definitely go back when I'm in SF.

 205 characters

Photo of Jvrdz24
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of BabaBeer
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Photo of TxUltraRunner
5/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Best bottle shop in the city by far! Owner is a blast to talk to and is willing to suggest to your taste. Being a Texan myself, the owner gushed over Jester King. Ended up getting stuff from The Bruery, Almanac, Russian River, and Firestone Walker. The walk from Chinatown was hell considering I ran the San Francisco Marathon a few hours before.

 346 characters

Photo of tshanahan
4.93/5  rDev +10.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75

These guys rock. Wonderful selection in a small store. Get to know these people and they will keep you updated on what's fresh and new. I come here regularly.

 158 characters

Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.41/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

 550 characters

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Ales Unlimited in San Francisco, CA
Place rating: 4.47 out of 5 with 33 ratings
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