Magnolia Pub & Brewery

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Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

1398 Haight Street
San Francisco, California, 94117
United States

(415) 864-PINT | map

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Reviews: 132 | Ratings: 195
Photo of bultrey
4.78/5  rDev +18%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I've been to Magnolia 8 times now, which is almost the number of days I've spent on business trips in San Francisco. When I fly into SF from NYC, the first thing I do is check into my hotel. The second thing I do is jump in a cab (or on a bus) to Magnolia for fresh, delicious eats (late night, too), and a couple of pints of cask-conditioned Bluebell Bitter.
Oh, there are other beers on, too. And they're all really good. They usually have around eight or 10 house beers at any given time, usually including two or three casks. If you must make me choose, the aforementioned bitter, the Kolsch, the Proving Ground IPA, and Old Thunderpussy barleywine are my absolute favorites. The Smokestack lightning imperial stout that I had at the recent Strong Beer Month kick off was also killer.

The food is also excellent -- lots of local, organic, fresh ingredients -- Nieman ranch meats, etc. A very contemporary California cuisine menu, some of the best and most eclectic food you'll find at a straight-up brew pub. Ingredients can change with the season. The plain old burger is fab, too, though.

You would expect the atmosphere to be 100% Haight (which would be a bad thing), but it's not, really. Yeah, they got the Grateful Dead-themed walls, and they do play alot of Dead (though fairly low, in the background). I see alot of USF students, as well as students from other universities. I see alot of ageing hippies. I see alot of young professionals. I see alot of everybody. I like that. One big melting pot. Oh, and just try to sit here alone for more than 10 minutes without striking up a conversation with someone.

Lastly, the service is really, really good, at least to the single business traveler. I always get greeted with a smile, friendly conversation, prompt service, and an occaisonal buy-back.

They fill growlers, and sell all kinds of Haight-y schwag, tho the little Kolsch glasses are really cool and must-haves, in my opinion.

I usually go here for dinner and a few brews, then stagger on down to Toronado to finish myself off. Almost impossible. There isn't a better one-two beer punch in the US that I've come across.

Oh Magnolia -- my favorite brewpub in the US so far. Granted, I haven't been to THAT many brewpubs, but this place just stole my heart (or, perhaps because it's in San Francisco, I just left it there)

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Photo of LeeMarvin
4.75/5  rDev +17.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

The bartender at City Beer told me this place was a mandatory stop while in The City. On the corner of Haight and Masonic, Magnolia is a beautiful, 19th century space whose owners have worked to retain its period feel. The owners and brewers are real Deadhead/Phisheads, and have named many of their beers after both Dead and Phish songs. Their food and drink are some of the best you’ll get in the city at a very reasonable price point.

I arrived on a Thursday afternoon later than I’d wanted to and found myself at a table with a great view of the colorful world that is the Upper Haight. I eased into my experience with a Proving Ground IPA and an order of the braised rib entrée, both excellent. Outstanding music played over the speakers, from Phish to (old) Aerosmith to acoustic Jerry.

About halfway through my meal, things started to pick up noticeably in the place. I quickly ordered another beer, this time going for the Oakstack Lightning Imperial Stout on cask, which ended up being one of the best beers I tried during my visit. Halfway through I was so overjoyed with my experience that when the brewer walked by I couldn’t help but stop him and commend his efforts. Despite a further influx of people and noise, I finished off with the cask version of the Proving Ground IPA and called it a night. I won't miss this place next time I'm in town.

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Photo of beernut7
4.6/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Easy to find little pub by way of public transport system. Place was quite crowded and packed full on a Saturday afternoon, but able to get a table for two quickly.
Huge selection of brews including 5 beer engines and 12 standard taps. If you are one for cask beers this is the place to go. All the offerings were consistantly fantastic with perfect temperature and carbonation. No off flavors from long-standing casks despite the large selection.
Nice ability to compare cask and pushed beers. Eccentric mix of traditional English, American and Belgian style brews available. I would definitely make this a stop on any tour of san fran.

Large, diverse offering of food also nicely done and tasty.

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Photo of Offa
4.6/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This is a wonderful brewpub, which gets extra points for being, to my knowledge, the only place in the region brewing a strong array of real British-style ales that have a true British character and, even better, real English cask ale.

The brewpub itself is in a neat old building near the heart of Haight-Ashbury, with big windows, lots of old tile, etc. It has some peeling paint which in a way adds to the old, time-worn charm, a good bar, tall wood booths, etc. However, it is a bit stuffy in warm weather and gets bit loud even without any music playing. The location is another plus, an interesting-characterful area with old Victorians, etc., and, unusually for San Francisco, this neighbourhood actually has a lot of trees lining the streets.

Beer that I have had is excellent and gets extra points for including an unusually strong selection of British-style beers, on tap and cask, that wonderfully capture the mellow, easy-drinking, but complex, rich character of good British beer in a way that is almost unheard of here. I really am very, very impressed with how well they captured the wonderfully complex but restrain, subtle character of English ale, but that is in part because I really have seen it done nearly so well anywhere else in California or the west coast.

Service we have experienced is good.

Selection of beers is great, with English bitter, ESB-type, old ale, etc., plus some more American-style beers, a few beers in the German/Czech tradition, etc., and they offer a few guest beers, as well.

Food is excellent. Fried chicken, chicken sandwich, fries, bangers and mash, etc., are all great. The fried chicken is particularly nice and a bit unique.

Value is very good.

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Photo of GraduatedCashew
4.59/5  rDev +13.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Magnolia Pub and Brewery was recommended to me by some friends so I thought it'd be pretty good. I feel that I was right and a little bit more. I was truly impressed by this place for several reason:

The aesthetic was perfect. I thought everything was just different enough from every other brewery. There was an authentic feel about the place which paired with the beer rather well. I liked all the beers because of their quality and unique flavor.

The service was impressive especially considering the busy Saturday that I was there.

The food was incredible. I was able to grab the tail end of brunch and I highly recommend that.

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Photo of marcpal
4.58/5  rDev +13.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This was a unique establishment in a unique atmosphere and location. Very Cali in nature and a trippy walk just getting there. This is a textbook Gastropub in terms of the food and beer offered: first that I can recall being one that also brewed their own.

The atmosphere was 'different' indeed. It was a scene outside and the place itself was mad laid back. About 12 tables and a sleek little bar that looked right into the kitchen. The biggest negative for the whole experience was that the beer list was only on the chalkboard so I had to get up each time to look at it and hesitated because for the people eating under it, they probably didn't want my dopey mug standing over and looking over them repeatedly.

The quality of the beer was pretty good, did not have each but the quality of the food was also good. The best beer was the spud IPA and they offered casked versions of each as well. The food was a bit greasy but well rounded. Very well rounded. Partially my fault in what I ordered (greasy potatoes/vegs) but the salad with blue cheese was tremendous as was the spicy sausage. Not for the faint of heart, this one was spicy.

I started my selection with a tasting sampler which was a great deal and let me experiment the styles that they had to offer. They did a good job of matching the glasswear and the food offered choices among choices and all were professionally and chowhoundedly done. Good stuff.

It is worth the trip there for the cask options alone as well as solely for the mustard. Might be the best ground homemade mustard Ive ever had. Id put it on a doorknob and eat it, kudos to the cook that puts that one together.

Worth a visit, get your butt out there. Bartender/waitress also friendly and attentive. Good crowd too. One other note is that they had Russian River guest beer flowing as well.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I stopped by this place on a recent trip to San Francisco, and was quite impressed. It's located in the Haight, and fairly near Golden Gate Park, so there's alot of fun shopping, sight-seeing to do fairly nearby.

The Haight atmosphere doesn't stop on the outside, either. Check their website for a hint of the sort of decor you get inside. May not be everyone's thing, but I found it pleasant. The staff was very laid back but knowledgable enough about the beers.

The food was good hearty fare for what will likely be a cold San Francisco day when you visit. I had their magnolia beef chili -- good stuff served with some delicious buttermilk cornbread.

The beer selection is fairly impressive, for such a small place. When I visited, they had eight of their own beers on regular draught, and three of those were also available in cask-conditioned form. They also had two taps devoted to beer brewed by other local micros. All part of that friendly, hippy gestalt I guess. Who's compaining.

Beer was of very good quality. Tried their IPA and their Porter and was impressed with both. All in all, a very nice place to stop for lunch in the city.

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Photo of david131
4.53/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

On a corner of Upper Haight... lots of light enters the establishment. Classic and rugged interior. The tap selection included numerous beers brewed by them including a brown, kolsch, ipa, pale ale, etc. Most were lower alcohol offerings, not that it was a bad thing. They had a decent amount of beers on cask as well. The service was pretty good and the waitress seemed pretty experienced and had a good sense of humor. The food was decent, but extremely pricey. Overall, I throughly enjoyed myself and was impressed by the atmosphere. This would be a good place to visit just for some beers and dinner occasionally. They had a guest draft selection from a diverse selection of surrounding breweries. Also, it was $3 Tuesday so all of their brews were $3 all day. My burger was $14.50. Cheaper beers, expensive food.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Yet another place that did not exist when I was stationed here. I remember a dust-up with the Irish immigrant lass who was splitting her time with me and a co-worker. In my older, wiser guise, it would have been a small thing, but in my young, dumb, and full of cum era, she broke my glasses, blackened my eye, spat on me, and stormed north to her apartment, leaving me steaming mad on the same corner at which Magnolia now sits. For the uninitiated - not all of my memories are pleasant ones.

Okay, deep breath and back to the present. For starters, the entry is on an angle to Height and Masonic, with a ¾ wrap-around panoramic window front. The Height never looked better. The I-Beam was gone, the Red Vic was a B & B, and yet I shed nary a nostalgic tear. Here we had beer.

The extensive back bar began along Masonic and simply wrapped around to the right with the back bar fronting the kitchen. A trippy mural that ran all of the bar area and some of the restaurant area was very evocative of Rick Griffith art. Point of fact - the Grateful Dead began in a Victorian not far from here.

Seques, digressions, where else but SF? Man, this is the place where I heard a guy tell me at the Fillmore, "Man, I am so proud to be here. This is where my mom dropped acid for the first time. Pass me your kit". Whoops! Did I say that? Well, never busted and many years off of the habit, so none are the wiser.

Is there a review in here? It may have ended when I had to visit the Man Behind the Curtain to do #1.

What direction need a review take? Okay, let's get serious.

Beers: Twelve (12) taps and three (3) casks. Blue Bell Bitter; Sara's Ruby Mild; Big Cypress Brown; Cole Porter; Spooky Tooth Stout; and Oysterhead Stout (made with two bushels of Hog Island Sweetwaters).

Cask: Proving Ground IPA; Cole Porter; Spud Boy's IPA.

Rumor had it that they had renovated since my December 2007 visit, so a re-visit seemed to be in order.

The door was still oriented to Haight and Masonic, so let's start there. Entering, high tables lined the windows along Masonic with standard tables and chairs overlooking Haight. It was mainly booth seating center. The kitchen and back bar ran along the back wall with a series of upholstered padded benches fronted by tables to right. The walls seemed spartan as compared to my last visit, but my pigtailed server, Andrea, explained that it is ownership's desire to recall the building's roots as a pharmacy ("After all, S. F. has a MUCH richer history than just THAT one summer"). Fair enough, but Grateful Dead still held forth from the speakers. White tile English style lavs with Grateful Dead B & W photos hanging on the walls. I ended up hanging out with Rock Bottom brewers from San Diego and San Jose on my visit!

Draft: Kalifornia Kolsch; Proving Ground IPA; Tweezer Tripel; X (Belgian Abbey Single); Blue Bell Bitter; Sara's Ruby Mild; Dark Star Mild; Big Cypress Brown; Cole Porter; Stout of Circumstance.

Cask: Big Cypress Brown; Blue Bell Bitter; Proving Ground IPA; Sara's Ruby Mild; Cole Porter.

Coming soon: Half-Step Hefeweizen; Spud Boy's IPA.

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Photo of bradybeer
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Third stop of SF brewpub tour. Located on Haight in the middle of the Haight Asbury neighborhood. Walking in you get hit smacked in the face with pub warmness of the wood and booths and the bar.

When we were their that had about 20 beers on tap. We tried two 6 beer samplers-which included three IPAs, three bitters, a porter, a brown, two pale ales and a gruit. Enjoyed all the beers, even the gruit, but were blow away by the Proving Grounds IPA. We were impressed by the ability of the brewer to play within the parameters of Pale Ales, IPAs, and Bitters-this ability shows how there can be distinct beers within a style. More breweries should do this.

$20 dollars for 12 samples-noce. Service was excellent. A must stop in the city.

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Photo of 1759Girl
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3

The charm of the hippie-history of Haight Street wore off when I left highschool, and now I see the area as a good place for thrift shopping and a haven for strung out homeless people... NICE!
Magnolia Pub and Brewery is a saving grace among the silly tourists and trustafarian homeless kids (you know the ones that are still pretty and have money for makeup and buying cool pipes, but still want to sit on the sidewalk and beg for money?)
I digress...
Magnolia not only has amazing beer... it has amazing beer available from cask. The food is pretty nice, but the beer....
Did I mention the beer?
Good stuff!

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Photo of drewbage
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

In the midst of the oddity zone that is the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, there is a zone of nirvana for beer lover's called the Magnolia Pub.

This old Victorian building has had many lifes (depending upon the stories you hear : a VD clinic, a house of ill repute and oh so much more.)

None of that matters now as what the owners and staff at the Magnolia have succeeding in making isa wonderful neighborhood pub in the middle of one the city's craziest places.

Top notch food makes it good to sit and enjoy an amazing assortment of beers, including one of the few regularly produced milds to be found (a mild inspired by the Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild, albiet weaker than the 6.0% oddity from the UK)

The mild is almost always on cask along with 5 or 6 of it's brothers. The other beers including a few guest beers are on tap.

Top notch.. go here. Don't let the freaks freak you or your squarish ways will force you away from a treat.

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Photo of SSGPat
4.46/5  rDev +10.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Thanks to BA I found this place. We went after working in the valley and had the IPA. I had the cask conditioned and my friend had the regular. I believe that we were both happy. I make beer and was impressed with the cask conditioned. It was everything that I had hoped for. The regular seemed to be more carbonated and lighter in color (as expected) and that was what my friend was in search of. Great beer, and I'll be back when in town.

We didn't try the food so I didn't rate it.

It's located about 2 blocks from hippy central (Haight/Ashbury), but the clientele was very eclectic. I would suggest that if you are anywhere near to drop by.

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Photo of TheLoneGunman
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Magnolia is a great little place in the Haight.
-Edit-I must of had a bad day or something because I have been to this place three times since my original review and the food is NOT typical pub food. It's organic and it actually rocks. -End edit-

I wasn't disappointed in any of their beers and I loved a ton of them. There was a vast array of beers available and being sort of a Deadhead, I love the theme of their names.

It's rather cozy but is often crowded due to the tourists. Service was very friendly but a little slow. A great place in the Haight and one I'd frequent if I lived in the city.

My favorites were the Prescription Pale and the Proving Ground IPA. I liked how they brewed across many styles. Always nice to have variety when doing a tasting.

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Photo of studentofbeer
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Finally made the short trek from my Hayes Valley apartment to the Haight to check this place out, and Im definitely going back.

The pub is on the corner of Haight and Masonic, and the neighborhood is now a sad attempt to reclaim the glory days of the 60s, but the Magnolia doesn't fall into any of the cheesy tie-dye or anything. It's in a nice victorian and the setting is less bar and more restaurant. You walk in and seat yourself. the waitress was prompt in cleaning off a table for us, and took drink orders soon after.

the point of this brewpub is cask conditioned beer, no doubt about it. 5 of their offering on cask at any one time, plus maybe 8 or so taps (with some duplication). The 5 cask taps make the selection automatically outstanding.

the beer made by the magnolia is tasty and they serve up a nice variety. I had their pale ale and porter on cask (both very good) and a gruit flavored with rosemary and other pre-hop herbs and spices that was fantastic. There were more beers i wanted to try, but after 3 imperial pints my taste buds were shot.

Prices are good too-- go on a tuesday, it's $2.50 all day for imperial pints. and every day between 4 and 7 and 10 and 11 pm you get $3.50 imperial pints. not bad at all.

the food was very creative and tasty. it's a step up from normal pub grub and so are the prices. the portions also were not huge. but for a nice dinner out and some good beer, this is an excellent place to go. not very bar-like, but very good.

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Photo of Clembo1957
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Haight Ashbury's only brewpub goes the blurb. This place is a gem, great atmosphere, friendly staff, great beer. You can sit by the bar and chat or gaze out the window at the locals and tourists passing by outside.

The Beer selection is served either via tap or English style from the cask via handpumps on the bar. I sampled several pints of cask Blue Belle Bitter (4.7%). The Magnolia always seems busy but the atmosphere is laid back. I've never eaten here but the food looks excellent too.

A popular place particularly on the sunday Lunchtime i visited, it may be quieter at other times of day.

Highly recommended!

Revisited Feb 2005 - still a great bar!

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Photo of jrancan
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

What a great place. Most brewpubs have what, 5 or 6 beers on tap? Magnolia had, on the day I was there, 10 house taps going, 4 house casks, and a handfull of guest beers that I actually didn't even checkout. Let me see...2 different IPAs, a Brown, Bitter, Pale, Stout, Porter, Mild, Wheat, and Alt. The casks were repeats of what they had on tap, but hey, what a great option to have. I can't think of any other bar that I've been to, that has 4 beer engines. Great work on their part. My only minor complaint is that there were no Belgian style ales on at the time. Oh well.
The bar itself with all the taps coming out of the back wall, is quite small, I could see it becoming a problem if more than 10 people were in there at the same time.
The beautiful mural encompassing the entire room is a perfect fit that adds to the whole Haight-Ashbury experience.
One fine establishment that anyone going to SF should check out.

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Photo of germaniac
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

What a great little place, and an additional treat- Strong Beer Month! The beers were excellent, from the Kolsch to the Russian Imperial Stout. Several cask conditioned brews, my favorite being the Slipping Into Darkness, a multifacted, high ocatane brown ale. Attentive, knowledgable servers, dishing out excellent upscale pub grub. A good size crowd in a cozy dining/bar area, but we were able to have cross table converstations with ease. Wound up sitting alongside a judge from this year's Barleywine Fest at Toronado, who was a fountain of beer knowledge and some great local color. Had to make a special trip back the next day to get a special Strong Beer glass and t-shirt, along with a logo'd pokal glass.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 5

After an afternoon in Santa Rosa to visit Russian River, we came back to the Bay area hungry. The hotel in Berkeley was surrounded by Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, Afghan ethnic food, which all of us love, but we'd had our fill and just wanted something as simple as fried chicken. I was flipping through a beer magazine I picked up from Russian River, and there was an add for Magnolia's that said this place specializes in cask ale, so I was interested and had to look the place up online. Then a funny series of coincidences occurred. The place was located on the Haight-Ashbury, where we all wanted to check out after we found a place to eat, and the special for the night here was fried chicken. Once we looked over the rest of the menu, though, it quickly became apparent that I needed to try something other than fried chicken.

I have never seen such a diverse and mind-blowing menu at a brewpub, nor have I ever been to a place that had a selection of 4 different house casks and another guest cask. Our minds were quickly made up and the three of us headed out over the Oakland Bay Bridge to fight our way into SF. Then another funny thing happened: we knew we were close, so we started looking for a parking space. Then somebody pulled their car out and we were able to parallel park in their place, right in front of Magnolia's Pub. Finding a parking space in SF is nearly impossible, so we hear, but we were able to do this at nearly every outing we had in the Bay area.

The place was pretty busy, but we ended up getting the last table. The people behind us were waiting for quite a while, so the turnaround seems to be pretty slow. I can see why, however, because once we sat down we didn't want to leave. Cool atmosphere with a big community table. Water is served in refrigerated glass bottles that used to house various forms of liquor. There are several unisex bathrooms with an old fashioned faucet in the hallway with heated towels to dry your hands on.

The service was amazing. Even though the place was literally packed to the gills, we were attended to like we were the only people there. My mother told me she wanted me to marry the waitress. I'll admit, there is something to be said about a fine woman talking about cask ale.

The food was quite exciting. Heirloom tomato salad for an appetizer was quite delicious, as was the pasta carbonara. Everybody else thoroughly enjoyed their food as well, including my mom who still ended up getting the fried chicken, which was evidently just like Grandma used to make.

The beer was very good as well, but I'd have to say that maybe we came on an off night, since two of the three casks that I sampled seemed a bit dead. The stout was good, but the IPA was getting a bit oxidized and flat, as was the bitter. Even despite that, the beer was very good. I am just wondering how well they are able to manage 5 different casks on average. I would definitely like to come back another several times just to find out.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.41/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.75

To me, Magnolia is the quintessential example of New American cuisine. I can't think of another brewpub I have been to where I was as interested in the food as much as their beer. Frankly, I probably think of the food here before I think of their beer. And their beer is quite good as it is, keep in mind. Love the bathroom setup as well. This is a must if you are in San Francisco.

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Photo of FrankLloydMike
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

This was the place I was most excited to visit in San Francisco on a trip to the West Coast this past spring, and it is was the first place I went after a hellish day in airports. What a long, strange trip, indeed. But, o! how the cask bitter soothed my ills, and how lovely it was complimented by a duck apricot sausage.

Maybe it was the long trip, the fact that it was a chilly Tuesday night and the streets were empty, or the long quiet walk up a hill under trees to this beautiful spot, but this place was magical. The space is small, cozy, warmly but dimly lit, and feels old and lived in though it may or may not be. Entering through the corner door, there is a long, high communal table--something I really like to see in bars--and a few booths to the left, and more booths and tables to the right. The bar is in the back, where a solid lineup of excellent beers brewed in the basement are dispensed. There were a handful of casks, which I especially enjoyed, as well as a couple great pale ale and IPAs, and nice kolsch for something lighter.

Overall, San Francisco was my least favorite stop on our West Coast tour that brought us to Portland and Seattle afterward, but I'd go back just for Magnolia.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Smack-dab in the middle of the Haight, and just a few blocks away from the famed intersection of Haight-Ashbury, Magnolia went from being ‘that place where I went once and had an ok time’ to becoming one of my favorite places to treat myself when I’m visiting SF.

So, a little backstory:
My first time at Magnolia was on a Tuesday, and I found the crowds—attracted, probably, as much as I was by their half-price pint special—to be overwhelming. Long wait for a table, friendly but overworked servers, and the din made it impossible to have a conversation. (Geeze, I must sound like a cranky old man!) Plus, I felt the only vegetarian option at the time was overpriced—and forgettable. By this point I have no recollection of the beers I tried that day but I wasn’t impressed enough to return.

I’m not sure why I gave Magnolia another chance but I’m glad I did. It had been over a year between my visits. This time I went in the afternoon, skipped ordering food, and asked for some samples before committing to pints. What else changed? Well, my palate expanded as I had developed a taste and appreciation for many, many different styles of beers—including, I’m sure, a few that I tasted on my first visit. I’ve been back many times since then. I even had a farewell party there—and a welcome back gathering, when I returned (briefly). I’ll still go on Tuesdays for their specials, but now I know what to expect.

Magnolia keeps a number of beers on tap and hand-pump.
One thing I enjoy doing is trying a pint from each to compare the differences—how cask conditioning brings out the malt, or the way the hops come across. They make some terrific British-style ales, and one of these days I’ll finally remember the specific, technical differences between Mild, Best Bitter, Extra Special Bitter and whatnot. You can’t go wrong with their IPAs, and if you’re lucky they’ll have a gruit or one of their strong beers available, too.

The servers have always been friendly, and in my experience I’ve enjoyed being around a warm, friendly crowd. There’s a number of tourists who pass by as well as regulars and folks in the food and service industry, and the window facing Masonic is just about perfect for people watching. Definitely worth a visit. I’m looking forward to my next one.

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Photo of Mark
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I've always wanted to try this pub due to it's buildings storied past. I grew up in the 60's and this place is located in what was the heart of the Haight Ashbury hippie area. My Dad used to get his racing form in what was then a drugstore, he would often take us along for the ride. The "sights" were shocking. The Magnolia Pub and Brewery has been around about 6 years. The room is smallish and has a cafe like feel to it, until you belly up to the bar. There you see a whole line of taps along the back wall and five handpumps serving up cask conditioned ale! To add to the pleasure, the casks are in the cellar. The beer from said casks is dispensed in to real British Imperial pint glasses. A few were even the extra "bulgy" kind that I had only previously seen in some Young's pubs in London.
Employee's were all young and yes a bit "hip". One guy in particular picked up on my enthusiasm and started talking to me. I told him of my love for the U.K. and cask ale. He bought me a pint of IPA from a cask he just tapped! A wonderful place and one I will for sure go back to. Parking is a problem but we got lucky. Food looked good and wholesome, though a bit on the pricey side. The pours were 4 bucks but I think they have a happy hour from time to time. A total winner! A slight bit disappointed on our second visit. Annoying rap music on the sound system. Food was plentiful and good. I didn't care for the foccacia bread they used for a hamburger bun. Way too thick and not very fresh, Burger itself was great. Still a great pub.

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Photo of kleffman
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Doing a little SF beer tour weekend and hit up Magnolia for a lunch and some beers. Quite impressed with their IPA on cask and the Tripel. I wasn't sure what to expect out of the Tripel but they pull the beer off very well. Great food for lunch. Sat at the bar and got great service, beer recommendations, and in general had a fantastic time. Will go back for sure. Cool area too, obviously since it's in the Haight. I recommend going here for some food, and then down to the Toronado for a couple more drinks. Then if you're leaving the area, head over to the 21st Amendment for dinner and a couple finishing beers. Now that's a great day.

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Photo of davedahl
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I was in San Francisco for business back in October and just found the time to collate my notes on The Magnolia Pub & Brewery. This was my first/only trip the Magnolia and it's gone on my Must See San Francisco list...along with The Toronado which is just a few blocks away.

The Magnolia is right on the corner of Haight and Masonic. Two exterior walls of floor-to-ceiling windows and a corner door make it very inviting. It naturally draws in the people passing by.

The interior atmosphere is very warm due to the worn, relaxed, woodwork throughout (wood bar, wood paneling, wood booths, etc). Two sides are window booths looking out on Haight and Masonic. The two opposite walls on the back and other side have old yellowed wallpaper that reaches to the high ceilings and fantastic crown molding.

I wound my way through the tables and made my way to the bar. When traveling on business, and dining solo, I'm a big fan of the restaurants with full-menu bars...such as The Magnolia. It's a bit on the noisy side, definitely not bad, just slightly reverberation-ish so noise/sound/conversation carries and bounces around. As I got comfortable on the high-stool I noticed Grateful Dead music wafting quietly behind the warm chatter of patrons. That hit a particular soft-spot for me. While the Magnolia draws a lot of it's naming and general character from the Grateful Dead music, songs, and lyrics, it's by no means overbearing and people not familiar with the Dead would not be put off - or even notice.

I ordered a Kalifornia Kolsch (5.1% 15 IBU) while "soaking it all in" and checking out the taps. That day (Oct 15) they were pouring 12 taps and 4 casks (!). They also were offering several wines on tap and in bottle along with a few champagne's and sparkling wines.

While I was checking out the menu I noticed one of the sous chef's, thinking he was hidden, dance a little jig back in the kitchen.

Everything about the place seemed thoughtful - the menu, the worn rich decor, the chalkboard tap-list, etc.

I ordered a sausage plate which was delicious and slightly smokey. All their sausages are homemade. Unfortunately I didn't seem to take any other notes - but I recall very strongly being duly impressed. I paired the sausage plate with a Weather Report Wheat (4.3% 55 IBU). The fruitiness of the hops worked well with the apple-flavor in the sausage and the mild spicing of the sausage was toned down nicely from the the cooling/smoothing of the wheat-based ale.

The service at the bar was terrific. I tend to keep to myself when doing the solo-thing but the small-talk and tag-team service at the bar was efficient and friendly.

At one point I overhead one of the diners proclaim "I'm going to be Grace Slick for Halloween" which was appropriate since the holiday was only a couple weeks away, and Golden Gate Park was about three blocks down the road.

Since I'm not big into sweets I chose not to eat my desert but drink it instead. Dessert was a Prescription Pale Ale served from cask (5.9% 55 IBU).

Wow great spot. The food, the music, the atmosphere, the staff/service, and the beer. All wonderful, accommodating, and relaxed. I will definitely be back.

** Edit: Oh, and from their website you can sign up for their newsletter which is informative and refreshingly artistic in this writing and look-and-feel.

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Magnolia Pub & Brewery in San Francisco, CA
3.74 out of 5 based on 759 ratings.
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