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City Beer Store
Taps: 15 / Bottles: 300
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Store ]
1168 Folsom St
phone: (415) 503-1033
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vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
I don't know how, but it took me until 2 months after this place opened to find out about it (to be fair to myself, I was in Germany for one of those months).
Hands down, Toronado included, this is THE BEST PLACE TO DRINK BEER IN SAN FRANCISCO.
An amazing concept for a beer store: providing a great variety of common and exotic brews, both chilled and on the shelf, that you can either buy, or, for a $1 corkage, open at the bar and drink. 6 rotating draught beers are kept at the bar, and you can sample any of these for free. Craig, the owner, really brings this concept together by providing the perfect comfortable atmosphere. His themed flights that change each day are a great way to improve your beer knowledge. He takes requests, and will make them happen if he can. Kegs are also available for order. He also just began serving fine cheeses, meats and bread that you can enjoy with your beer.
Never too crowded, most I've seen is a dozen people there on a Thursday night, and half of them were Craig's wife Beth's friends playing scrabble at the table. Everyone there is just a regular beer geek like ourselves, enjoying the beautiful beverage. Craig knows his shit, and he'll take the time to answer any question you have on a beer he sells. He knows them very well, but he's also not afraid to tell you when he hasn't had one, yet.
As popularity for this place has grown, the selection has followed suit. Updated almost weekly, it's fun to go down and see what new surprises are in store. The store's weekly emails usually go out on Thursday, and they typically have me running down there after work to grab some new arrivals.
A couple of stories that I feel exemplify the type of place this is:
I was picking up some 6 packs for a BBQ on a Saturday afternoon with a friend, and we were the only people in the store. Craig had to run down the street for a minute, and he asked us if we'd watch the store for him. We said of course, and he left us alone in the store for a little while. I had only been there twice at that point, and had just been getting to know the guy.
Last night, about half a dozen of us hanging around talking, and another regular stops in. Man has two Belgian bombers, beers I've never heard of before. He offers em up to everyone to sample and enjoy. So Craig pours em into a glass for each of us, and we sip and talk about the beer.
If you live in SF and you love beer, you owe it to yourself to shop here. Craig makes you feel more like a friend than a customer, and that says a lot. He's also a guy who's excited about beer, and I'll support that.
11-17-2006 23:43:20 |
More by mateobmc
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
After a few pints at Toronado, Francis, Kevin and I hopped a crackhead infested bus to SoMa to check out City Beer store. With a name like that, I sort of expected more of a Quickie Mart-like convenience store feel, I couldnt have been more wrong.
Lighting was dim and décor was dark and comfortable but with a slick, urban feel. A little chill out sofa corner to the right (looks like a great spot to review a Beer), a 4-5 stool bar to the left, with a kitchen counter behind it. The Beer was in the back, with a line of coolers and a few shelves. A quartet of interesting tap handles, so we had a taster while shopping around. How cool is that?! Reminds me a bit of Beermania in Brussels, where you could sample a Beer on the spot before deciding if its worthy of taking some home or not.
A good variety of indigenous and regional brews could be found, if I remember correctly I grabbed a Moylans Hopsicle and Lagunitas Freak-out among others. Nice foreign selections too, Germans I dont see very often in the east and a couple a Belgians. The prices, for the locals at least, seemed pretty fair.
Our bartender/checkout guy/owner was cool, we talked shop a little and sampled some of the cold cut and sausage platter, great stuff.
I really like the concept of this store that so many higher-end wine shops have implemented successfully. Considering that more and more people are getting turned on to craft Beer I have to give kudos to the owner for catering to this niche market. I would recommend it to anyone, be it a local looking for that new offering or the drunken tourist like yours truly who wants to see a good cross-section of the native flavors. Its a terrific place to shop for Beer in a relaxed, upscale (compared to Toronado, this place is the Ritz), but not uptight atmosphere.
09-27-2006 17:27:09 |
More by Goldorak
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Great place on Folsom Street in the SoMa district of San Francisco. The atmosphere is really good as there are four beers on tap in the store that you can sample while you browse. The quality is quite good. I opened two beers from the store tonight and both were top quality. The service was great. The owner was very friendly and we talked craft beer for a bit. He wanted some recommendations on some East Coast brews to sample on his trip to the Great American Beer Festival, which I was all too happy to give. He was knowledgable on his craft brews, especially West Coast ones, and gave some good recommendations. The selection was very good. I picked up a couple bombers of Stone 10th Anniversary, which I was thrilled to find, a bomber of Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, and bottle of Russian River Damnation. Other than Stone (including 3L Oaked Bastard), Russian River, and Bear Republic, the store had lots of Moylan's, Drake's, Rogue, Lagunitas (including Freak Out), Marin, and lots of other West Coast micros. Lots of beers that I've wanted to try so bad, but don't have enough time left out here to drink. I found the prices to be very reasonable...mixed 6-packs were 10% off as well. Overall, I can't imagine a better beer source here in San Fran. It is great to see a store completely dedicated to beer and nothing else. The owner is a great guy and I hope this store makes it. Highly recommended!
09-20-2006 04:47:11 |
More by WeisGuy
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Nice little store with a great vibe!
It's a wonderful concept: a beer tasting bar. They can pour you 6 oz from their 4 taps (we got Damnation and Drake's Imperial Stout, I forgot the other 2 but all high quality). Also, you can buy a single bottle and drink it there for a $1 corkage fee. I'm surprised more stores don't do this and I think it's absolutely wonderful!
Small to mid sized bottle selection, but very good quality. All styles of beer well represented. Hopefully the small stock means they will moved beer fast, ensuring freshness. Friendly staff, very knowledgeable. Also, cheers to a store that sells only beer, which is pretty ballsy but shows how far craft beer has come.
08-16-2006 20:51:07 |
More by rayjay
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
City Beer recently opened, and it still has a very new and clean feel to it. If the quality of my visit is indicative of where this place is going though, expect it to become the premier beer store (sorry Plumpjack) in San Francisco proper.
Craig, the owner, is incredibly helpful and knowledgeable about his selection. He's excited to help his customers and talk up beer. His enthusiasm alone will carry this place far.
All the beers are organized by style, a novel concept that I've seen work really well at Bottleworks in Seattle, as it allows for newbies to find beers similar to those that they already like and for beer geeks to check out the full range of offerings within a given style that the store has. Better yet, you can split six packs and buy singles of any of the store's brews, getting a 10% discount for each new six pack. A great boon for those of us who don't live in the area and want to buy a broad sampling of brews without breaking the bank.
As other reviewers have mentioned, there's also a quality beer bar in the store with bar seating and some larger, comfy chairs. I can imagine this place becoming a good center for craft brew connosieurs to come, buy, talk, and taste all in one sitting.
Kudos to this wonderful new store! Highly recommended.
06-14-2006 17:44:30 |
More by benito
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
I was looking for a one stop shop place to pick up some great CA / Bay Area beers, and the owner Craig saw my post on BA and invited me to visit. How could I refuse a fellow BA?!
First and foremost, I should mention that I visited May 27th, which was less than a month after opening. I mention this because the place looked...almost unfinished, but more about that later.
The store was not too difficult to find, although I all I had was a street number and didn't see one on the outside nor was there a visible store name (that I saw). However, it would be hard to walk by the place and miss it as iit was the shelves and shelves of beer and the 4 taps are visible from the street (although you're actually looking down). For those not familiar with SFO and considering walking to the place from, say, Union Square, I'd highly discourage this because you have to go to a rather dodgey part of town to get there. SOMA's a real interesting part of town, but I wouldn't get there walking through the Tenderloin neighborhood unless being solicited for drugs is your thing or you're really keen on the stench of urine. Ugh.
The interior was...spartan and clean, and while I attribute much of this to the fact that the place has only been open for less than a month, it certainly highlighted the presence of all the beer! The set up inside consists of a few coolers along two walls, a couple of shelves brimming with bottles, a few tables and tall charis, and a rather small bar area with 4 taps.
Even there were a few folks sitting and chatting with Craig, the owner, when I entered, Craig was eager to greet and very hospitable. I was looking for something very specific and had a few quesions and Craig was helpful and very knowledgeable.
Now to the beer...
As previously mentioned, I was looking for something specific and was on a mission to be in and out as quick as possible, so I didn't get a chance to try any of the beers on tap. However, the selection of bottled beer was mighty impressive - lots from CA and tons and tons from Belgium and Germany. He even though he wasn't willing to part with any, he showed me a beer I'd never seen before (Brother Thelonious) that is rare indeed. I also really liked that mixing and matching was not a problem because most other places in town won't let you break sixers, which is a real pisser. However, even though there is a discount if you get a certain number of beers, some of the bottles were a tad pricey.
Overall, City Beer Store is well worth the visit. It may not compare to the selection and/or price of a BevMo, but from the minute you walk into the place it's obvious that our man Craig is passionate about beer. I can't wait to go back next time in town to see what Craig has done once he's been a round for a while.
06-03-2006 06:25:50 |
More by weefisheads
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Stopped in today to check out this unique new place on Folsom. It's between 7th and 8th and it's on the north side of the street. You can miss it easily because the current sign is a wooden sign that sits out on the sidewalk. The store is located halfway below ground level and the windows don't give much hint that a beer gem lies inside. The store is on the ground floor of a nice looking apartment complex. Across the street are a couple eateries including the Basil Thai restaurant which had excellent Pad Thai.
The decor is pretty spartan at the moment. Soft lighting complements a clean minimalist look. 2 bartables with 4 modern stools and 2 nice lounge chairs are present. A beautiful if lonely set of 4 taps sits on the main table. A modest selection of beer glasses fills one shelf. There are 2 huge shelves of room temp bottled beer and 2 huge coolers full of cold bottles.
Craig, the owner, is a better beer enthusiast, homebrewer, and genuine nice guy. We went in the early afternoon and it was pretty empty, but around 4pm it started to get a little busier.
The selection is quite large. There were a surprising number of fizzy yellow lagers, including PBR. I even saw a beer from Phuket. The California section emphasizes Northern California, with choices from Anchor, Anderson Valley, Speakeasy, El Toro, English Ales Brewery, Moylan, Marin, and more. Unlike Bevmo, he doesn't have each brewery's entire lineup, just a select few -- for example, I picked up Anchor Bock and English Ales Black Prince Porter. Stone had a few bottles as well. There were a couple Oregon favorites like Full Sail Pale Ale, Bridgeport IPA, and some from Deschutes and Rogue. New Belgium had a good showing, including a black beer and Skinny Dip. I remember several German imports like Hofbrau Maibock, Hacker-Pschorr Weiss, Aventinus, etc. The Belgian selection was pretty good, lacking Westy but he had Rochefort, Westmalle, Duvel, Orval, Unibroue, Grimbergen, Cantillon, and more.
His beer license allows him to serve 6oz servings at a time. That's 6oz a pour from the taps, but you can keep getting more. If you have a friend, you can split a 12oz bottle (pay $1 corkage), so we shared English Ales Dragon Slayer IPA and Speakeasy Double Daddy DIPA. Single bottles are mostly in the 1.69 to 1.89 range, with the rare or strong stuff much higher. The sixpack thing as mentioned in other reviews is a nice perk (BevMo doesn't let you break sixers), although it's only a 10% discount. I'd agree that some of the larger bottles seem to be marked up disproportionately. Most of my focus was on the 12ozers as I put together a nice sixpack to take back with me.
I'd love to see some even rarer stuff start to show up here. If he can generate a decent beer enthusiast following, rare beers would really draw them in. Seems like you could save some shelf space for these by carrying fewer fizzy yellow drinks. Add in some cheese or pretzels, maybe a water cooler. I'm on the fence about adding a TV. Oh and definitely a website updated daily with current beers on tap...
Currently on tap: Trumer Pils, Kronenberg, New Belgium Skinny Dip, and Delirium Tremens.
Overall: This place has a ton of potential and it will be interesting to come back and see how it turns out.
05-19-2006 05:43:11 |
More by oggg
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
After reading the reviews I went down to this Soma spot for suds. It was hard to find (on the left hand side of Folsom just after the green ADA sign in the gray post modern looking building) but well worth it. The owner was knowledgeable, a great guy to talk to, and loves beer. He has a few beers on tap, 6 oz. only, but the real attraction is the mix and match six packs you can get. You'd be hard pressed to find a beer, or beer style that he doesn't have. Check it out, you'll leave with a slight buzz and some tasty beers in your hand.
05-13-2006 01:06:11 |
More by Murchmac
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$
I heard about this place on BA and made it a point to meander on over there after work yesterday. The owner, Craig, was just finishing up w/ the only other customers in there and after they'd left spent about 30 mins chatting with me about his strategies behind opening the store, the layout, the selection... just about everything. As we talked he poured me a couple 6oz samples from his tasting bar, free of charge. This place has a couple large coolers and a huge un-refrigerated selection along the back wall, out of the sun's direct rays. Craig encourages mix-and-matching 6ers of the 12oz bottles and will even give you a 10% discount if you choose a full 6. He said the same would apply to a case of bombers/750ml bottles as well. The 12oz bottles are very reasonably priced but the 750ml are somewhat over the top. The best part of my visit however, which will keep me going back, is the fact that when he ran my cc while I was checking out, my card was rejected (hopefully his machine is broken!) and Craig offered to let me walk out with the beer if I promised to come back and pay him the next day. I have NEVER, ever, been given that much trust from a merchant - especially one I'd never met before. Thanks, Craig!
05-11-2006 16:07:40 |
More by clickpush
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City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA