Mention San Francisco to someone, and they’ll likely conjure up images of streetcars, fog, sourdough bread and the Golden Gate Bridge. To this list of icons, allow us to add the humble pint of beer.
In recent years, San Francisco has become a suds powerhouse. The Bay Area boasts excellent breweries and brewpubs such as Dying Vines, Drake’s, Almanac, Trumer, Speakeasy and Magnolia, as well as Russian River and Lagunitas located about an hour’s drive away. Long story short, it’s no sweat to find a first-rate beer in the Bay Area. Here are five of our favorite places to knock back a pint — or four. What are yours? Hit us up on Twitter (@FoodRepublic).
1. City Beer Store
Headquartered in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood (South of Market, if you’re allergic to acronyms), City Beer is the perfect blend of retail operation and relaxed neighborhood bar. While you’re perusing the selection of more than 300 bottles, which you can mix-and-match by the six-pack, you can wet your whistle on one of more than a dozen rare drafts from the likes of Stillwater, Quebec’s Hopfenstark or Belgium’s Emelisse. Bonus: Pay an extra couple bucks, and you can enjoy any bottled beer in store alongside local sausages and Belgian waffles. 1168 Folsom Street, 415-503-1033; citybeerstore.com
2. Beer Revolution
It’s all punk rock, all the time at Oakland’s friendliest and finest craft beer bar. While plotting your next insurgency, occupy a bar stool and slowly work your way through the 47 meticulously curated drafts, including offerings from local all-stars like Drake’s and Dying Vines, alongside oodles of overseas ales. Rigorously cleaned draft lines ensure that the beer will taste as fresh as the day it was kegged. The coolers are also stocked with plenty of bottled brews to take home or, for a small fee, consume on premise. 464 3rd Street, Oakland, 510-452-2337; beer-revolution.com
3. Monk’s Kettle
If dining is as important as drinking, then beeline it to this Mission District standout serving up more than 200 constantly revolving local and international brews, including 24 tap lines and a well-edited selection of cellared beers. The suds are paired to toque Adam Dulye’s menu of forward-thinking, beer-friendly American cuisine such as burgers made with chickpeas and spent grain, mussels bathed in Allagash White and fries showered in hop-infused salt. P.S. Also excellent for Belgian beer paired with peerless food is La Trappe. 3141 16th Street, 415-865-9523; monkskettle.com
4. Toronado Pub
Don’t let the bar’s Haight Street location deceive you: There’s nothing hippy-dippy about the Toronado, a sticker-plastered tavern favored by die-hard beer drinkers, tattooed rockers, hop heads and a kennel’s worth of canines too. The attraction is a peerless list of Belgian- and California-crafted ales (include a killer collection of rare Russian River brews) served up by bartenders as gruff as they are efficient. Food comes in the form of fat sausages served next door at Rosamunde. 547 Haight Street, 415-863-2276; toronado.com
When San Francisco’s pea-soup fog clears, there’s no finer spot to slurp brew than at this sprawling suds house equipped with a spacious beer garden, grilled burgers and brats, and four dozen different draft beers. Rub elbows with bikers and Mission Street hipsters as you sip Moonlight Brewing’s delightful Death and Taxes black lager or Bear Republic’s righteously easy-drinking Nor Cal Bitter. P.S. You can rent a hotel room above the bar to ensure that you can start drinking right when Zeitgeist opens at 9 a.m. 199 Valencia Street, 415-255-7505; zeitgeistsf.com