Thirsty Bear Brewing Company

Thirsty Bear Brewing CompanyThirsty Bear Brewing Company
BA SCORE
38.3%
Liked Their Beers
3.63 w/ 337 ratings
Thirsty Bear Brewing CompanyThirsty Bear Brewing Company
PLACE INFO

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

661 Howard Street
San Francisco, California, 94105
United States

(415) 974-0905 | map
thirstybear.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate

BEER STATS
Beers:
26
Reviews:
124
Ratings:
337
Liked:
129
Average:
3.63/5
PLACE STATS
BA Score:
63.2%
Reviews:
61
Ratings:
106
Liked:
67
Avg:
3.76/5
pDev:
14.1%
 
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 106 |  Reviews: 61
Photo of mattmarka1
1.5/5  rDev -60.1%

Photo of andy1701
2/5  rDev -46.8%

Photo of bobbyhands
2.24/5  rDev -40.4%

Photo of MightyCow9
2.25/5  rDev -40.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2 | service: 1 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

I really expected more. We had trouble finding a seat, meaning it was crowded. But it was a Saturday. It was roughly 2:15 PM when we walked in. 2:30 when we sat down. 3:00 when we sat down. And about 3:45 PM when we got our beers. Many trips to find servers and people to help us met us with a big run around. We finally got our beers and the best was mediocre. An overly phenolic and young belgian wit, and an ESB that was bitter to the American style, although not advertised that way. All were too young and did not have anything special to offer. They had a cask offering, hand pulled, but we did not have an opportunity to order a second beer. We did finally get a nice and attentive server, but it was far too little and far too late. After an incredible experience at another beer stop earlier, this was made to seem like even more of a visit to the dentist.

I don't recommend this place, for anything but slightly better than average bar food. It has been rated better by others, but please enter at your own risk. There are much better places to visit in the Bay area or San Fran proper.

 1,098 characters

Photo of BenHesk12
2.76/5  rDev -26.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3

This is your typical big city "brewpub" that is only kept in business because of its easy location for tourists to walk to. Here you will find expensive glasses of beer that taste like they were made by a first time homebrewer. I tried several different offerings and from a beer drinkers perspective Thirsty Bear is entirely forgettable. I went here because they have several TV's and I was watching a live sporting event with friends, however, I will not go back and cannot recommend this place to anyone unless you are in this area and are not willing to walk 10 minutes away to find somewhere better.

 604 characters

Photo of klewis
2.95/5  rDev -21.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3

We visited Thirsty Bear at about 4:00 on a weekday and sat at a table in the bar. After 10 minutes and no sign of someone to take care of us, I went to the bar and picked up our drinks. Five minutes later (15 min. after we've been seated by a hostess), our server finally shows up and warmly greets us, "Close your bar tab. This is my section." A hello might have been nice. Not appreciating her attitude, we decided to keep the bar tab open anyway, and I continued to get our drinks from the bartenders, who were much friendlier. Once the work rush came in around 5:00, the bar was a bit understaffed to handle the crowd, so expect to wait during peak hours. The beers were decent and were served in appropriate glassware. Besides for the service, it was a nice place to get a beer. Check it out if you're downtown, but don't make a special trip to go.

 853 characters

Photo of AngusOg
3/5  rDev -20.2%

Photo of Real_JasonN
3/5  rDev -20.2%

Photo of Russkiy
3/5  rDev -20.2%

Photo of jophish17
3.03/5  rDev -19.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4.25

Been here twice now. The first time was in September 2008, when the financial markets were on the verge of collapse. Fortunately, the world was in a better position as I visited this past February.

The location is prime for visitors - both beer nerds (a few blocks from 21st Amendment), business people (near the convention center) and tourists visiting the nearby Union Square. So I am surprised to see it with half of the reviews of 21st Amendment. The building is spacious - not really my thing - but the decor is a lot of brick and metals, which I do like. It almost seemed too big, though I can still remember the place being rather busy for Oracle OpenWorld in 08.

To start with, let's get one thing settled: those of use reviewing here are Beer Advocates, so we tend to really appreciate really good beer. That is not something you will get at Thirsty Bear. The beer here is uninteresting, and wholly below the local standards. Nothing on my sampler was good enough to order a pint of. However, it should be noted that none of the beers were offensive either - just very forgettable.

The food, on the other hand, we really enjoyed. This was a sort of in between brunch and lunch stop for us, so we spilt a couple of tapas plates which we enjoyed. I'd say the food menu was a bit off the beaten path from the standard brewpub menu of sandwiches and pizzas, so that was refreshing, even if the food wasn't breathtaking. Still, things like that keep girlfriends happy as you drag them from brewery to brewery.

This is not a spectacular brewery. It is not a charming bar. It is also not the best tapas bar in the world. However, all put together, I somehow left this place for a second time now thinking that I'll come back again next time I'm in SF. I always recommend this place as an outside-the-box destination for visitors to SF, and I'm not really sure why...

 1,873 characters

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.1/5  rDev -17.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

I found a bit more class at the thirsty bear than I’m used to finding in the average brew pub. The stereo pumped Cole Porter era jazz, the tables were filled with well dressed businessmen in work attire, and the very idea of a Tapas Brew Pub seemed a touch upscale. Atmo was pleasing: high ceilings, good conversation space, large patio, multilevel, well separated bar/dining rooms, bright but well placed and uplifting lighting, etc… The food looked great but I didn’t try any. Service wasn’t very good. My bartender seemed to know the beer and answered my questions directly but didn’t offer any suggestions or elaborate much. He also seemed a bit annoyed that I was bothering him at all. He provided me with a couple of free samples (which should have been .$50 based on the menu) but did so as if it were a pother to him. Selection was mediocre. Aside from 10 or so house beers, the bar offered 3 Belgians in the bottle (Chimay and Lindeman’s). Quality was low. The Vaencia Wheat was a cloying disaster. The ESB was thick, heavy, and utterly unhopped. The only beer that I found at all pleasing was the Kozlov Stout on Nitro and that was just average. This place is low on my list of spots in the area but if you’re walking to 21st Amendment from the BART it’s right on the way so you might as well stop in and check it out. Maybe if you try some food you’ll like it more than I did.

 1,396 characters

Photo of QuakeAttack
3.13/5  rDev -16.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Live in the SF Bay Area and have wanted to visit for a couple of years. They have two of my favorite things: beer and Spanish food. On a rainy weekend, my wife and I went with another couple for a late afternoon of beer tasting and dinner. Unfortunately, we were disappointed...to the point that after appetizers, we went somewhere else for dinner.

It's a nice spacious place which was kind of slow at first, but picked up at the end of a SF game. We tried a flight of seven beers. While there were a couple of good beers (cask and nitro porter), most of the beers were average. Food was disappointing. Calamari breading didn't stay, empenadas got cold fast, and the potatoes weren't crispy.

Service was friendly, but nothing special. In looking a previous reviews, I think that one of them got it exactly right. This is an old micro brewery from the 90s which survives based upon location. Otherwise, there is really nothing to recommend to come back.

 955 characters

Photo of sholland119
3.25/5  rDev -13.6%

Photo of pisano
3.25/5  rDev -13.6%

Photo of Clembo1957
3.25/5  rDev -13.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

I arrived at The Thirsy Bear to be greeted by a deafening clattering noise, unfortunately i'd arrived on the Bars regular Flamenco night! fortunately the Flamenco was fairly brief and i could enjoy my beer again in relative peace. I sampled a couple of beers on my visit, Howard St IPA and Polar Bear, both of which were enjoyable.

The bar seemed to be largely food orientated and while the food wasn't bad the servers seemed to be in a hurry to serve us, clear the plates again and free the table for the next customer so my eating experience felt somewhat rushed. The beer wasn't bad but next time i think i'll avoid the Flamenco Dancers...

 646 characters

Photo of AgentMunky
3.35/5  rDev -10.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.5

Photo of francisweizen
3.35/5  rDev -10.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4

This place is pretty good. The atmosphere is slick with a long bar and many tables downstairs with some ppol tables and more seating upstairs as well. The nice 2 level warehouse/loft style suits this place nicely, although the clientele does tend to sway a little too yuppy for my liking. The quality of the food and the beer here is pretty good, but the year rounds beers can be a little boring and bland to this weather BA. Never-the-less some of the heavier winter seasonals and experimental beers turn out pretty darn good. The selection is usually pretty boring though, and this place is quite pricey...I will say that the service is great on some occasions and bad on others, so all in all i'll give it a 3 for service...as for the little plates (tapas)...they are all very good, but again pricey...a popular place with beer-lovers and non-beer lovers alike...and certainly worth a trip when you are in the SoMa district of downtown SF.

 942 characters

Photo of ccrida
3.35/5  rDev -10.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 2.5

Big open space, modern loft style, exposed brick, modern art (right next to the MOMA in fact), lots of light. Really not the vibe I like in a brew pub, looks more like an upscale lounge.

Friendly, cute waitresses knew the ABV of the seasonal, even though it's not listed on menu. Very knowledgeable on the food menu, all the Spanish pronunciations, but I was a little disappointed to see it as all tapas, paella and flat bread being the only other items of substance. I got an order of flat bread for $10, it was fine, but I'd need like 5 more to make a meal of it, and wasn't try to spending $100 at a brew pub, so I decided to go somewhere else for dinner. I had 2 of their beers, both seasonals. The trippel wasn't that great, the bourbon barrel stout was better. r They had 7 regular taps as well. I talked to a local at 21st Amendment (where I later walked to for a real meal) and he didn't speak to highly of their house beers. Too foo-foo for me overall, mostly suits and pointy loafer crowd. At least they were playing classic rock, I think it was Santana (which would make sense with their Spanish theme). The sliders, also $10, were ridiculous, you got 4, the patty couldn't have been bigger then a quarter, maybe a poker chip, but probably not even that. Brewpub food for bulimics.

 1,294 characters

Photo of jreitman
3.4/5  rDev -9.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 4

Went to Thirsty Bear the first time for a conference despite living 2 blocks away at one point. The atmosphere is very tailored too the professionals that work in the area... a little upscale and modern. I found it to be totally comfortable with a group of 10 people near the bar. The upstairs has a couple pool tables and darts. The beer I had was an IPA, unfortunately I didn't analyze it enough for a proper review, but I found it very tasty. Service was a bit uneven. The waitress we had was friendly enough but wasn't very responsive a couple times over the course of a couple hours.

Overall I would definitely go back if I was downtown.

 645 characters

Photo of blgianbeer
3.43/5  rDev -8.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

The Thristy Bear is an interesting combination of brewpub and tapas restaurant. The tapas restaurants that I've visited in the past mainly focused on wine. The food was well done and reasonably priced. My wife and I shared four tapas courses and it was plenty of food. The manchego/crab brushetta was awesome.
We tried four beers. The Vanilla Ale was interesting. Aroma was good (I love vanilla) but the flavor was a bit off. I'd prefer vanilla flavoring from oak barrels as opposed to real vanilla. Both the Brown and Black Bear beers were superb. Very well balanced and drinkable. The IPA was also nice. This is a good stop for dinner with the spouse while visiting SF.

 672 characters

Photo of Spaceman_Jer
3.49/5  rDev -7.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 2.75 | food: 4

Photo of MonkeyPilates
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4

Photo of davegray
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of hotglassmama
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

On vacation in San Francisco and using my phone's navigator to find a brewpub nearby, we landed at the Thirsty Bear. The first very pleasant surprise- everything they brew is organic! I was inclined to try the sampler, having never heard of their brews before. After trying the seven regular beers and a double sample of the seasonal brew, I settled on a Kozlov Stout. It was very tasty and quite nitrogenized. I was not as impressed with the Meyer E.S.B., which was good as a sample but proved too bitter for my taste after the Kozlov. Running short on time, we vowed to return the next day for dinner. On this second trip I stuck to the Kozlov, since it stood alone at the top of my list (after all, the Golden Vanilla sample just really didn't do it for me!). I ordered the house smoked baby back ribs with brown bear ale BBQ sauce and was quite pleased. They were fall off the bone tender and very tasty. The portion was just right and I felt satisfied with the value. Will I go there again next trip? Maybe, but only after I check Beer Advocate first to see what else is out there, a tactic that hadn't occured to me previously (thanks to the friends who pointed this strategy out).

 1,187 characters

Photo of Rachael11
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

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Thirsty Bear Brewing Company in San Francisco, CA
Brewery rating: 38.3% out of 100 with 337 ratings
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