As a beer enthusiast I tend to plan vacations around my love of craft brewed ales and lagers. To that end, when I research the cities I visit, I search out a supply of such beers. For me this means brewpubs, microbreweries, and beer bars. If I can throw in a beer festival as well, then so much the better. For these reasons when I decided to visit San Francisco for a beer festival, I checked the internet and found a wide array of bars and pubs to visit. What follows is, in my opinion, ten such establishments you have to visit on your next trip to San Francisco.
Normally Portland, Oregon is the American city with a rep for a great beer scene. After all, they have all those microbreweries and brew pubs, right? Yes, absolutely. As it turns out, though, San Francisco has its own love of beer.
Every year San Francisco hosts a huge, city wide beer festival. Spread across the city are a wide variety of beer bars, microbreweries and brewpubs. And don’t forget San Francisco was home to the first microbrewery years before they started springing up elsewhere in the country.
1. ANCHOR BREWING:1705 Mariposa St. (415) 863-8350 www.anchorbrewing.com
Anchor brewing can trace its history all the way back to the 1890s when it was operated by Ernst Baruth and Henry Koenke. Anchor Steam beer was one of the first beers they brewed when they were forced by San Francisco’s climate to brew their lager at warmer ale temperatures. Today, Anchor brewing makes a wide variety of ales and lagers including an American pale ale, a barley wine, and an annual Christmas beer. Twice daily tours of the brewery are available by reservation only and are often booked up to a month in advance.
2. 21ST AMENDMENT BREWERY: 563-2nd Street (415) 369-0900 www.21st-amendment.com
On December 5th, 1933 the 21st amendment of the constitution ended prohibition. In 2000 Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan founded their brewery in San Francisco’s city center after meeting in a summer class on brewing science. Before prohibition, San Francisco boasted 40 breweries, most of which prohibition wiped out. Today, 21st Amendment produces 3 ales for sale by local vendors as well as 8 more on tap at their restaurant. The restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and offer special game day menus.
3. ROGUE ALES PUBLIC HOUSE: 673 Union Street (415) 362-7880 www.rogue.com
Since 1988, Rogue has moved up in the world in more ways than one. Rogue’s first location was in the basement of its first brew pub in Ashland, and at first they only offered two ales. Today, Rogue has eleven locations ranging from California to Washington offering almost three dozen ales and a half dozen distilled spirits. The San Francisco branch sits up the street from Washington Square Park, offering 40 taps and a pub menu featuring many kobe beef dishes. If you’re over the age of 21, try the happy meals.
4. THE MONK’S KETTLE: 3141 16TH Street (415) 865-9523 www.monkskettle.com
One of San Francisco’s newer bars, the Monk’s Kettle opened for business in 2007. This small, cozy little place is a hole in the wall in every sense of the word. The Monk’s Kettle offers 24 taps and more than a hundred bottled ales from California and around the world. The menu is pub inspired, but upscale with suggested beer pairings accompanying the dishes. The Monk’s Kettle may be slightly more spendy than your average pub, but between the menu and the beer list, it’s worth it.
5. LA TRAPPE CAFÉ: 800 Greenwich Street (415) 440-8727 www.latrappecafe.com
Located in North Beach between Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill, La Trappe is a Belgian beer lover’s dream. Owner Mike Azzalini wanted his bar to resemble the brasseries and beer bars you might see in Belgium. It seems he’s hit the mark, creating a comfortable European inspired space, Belgian inspired menu and a beer list that tops out at over 200 ales and lagers from Belgium and around the world.
6. SAN FRANCISCO BREWING COMPANY: 155 Columbus Ave (415) 434-3344 www.sfbrewing.com
Located at the intersections of San Francisco’s Chinatown, North Beach, and Financial District, this 1907 saloon is one of the last remnants of the Barbary coast. In operation since 1985, the SF brewing company was one of America’s first brew pubs. The brewery downstairs produces 1000 gallons of beer annually for the pub as well as select liquor stores and restaurants around town. While visiting the pub and enjoying the food and enjoying one of the dozen beers, ask about getting a tour of the brewery. You won’t be disappointed.
Obviously, I’m only skimming the surface here, and only barely at that. San Francisco has so many great bars and pubs it would be impossible to list them all here. If you’re looking for more of San Francisco’s bars and pubs go to www.citysearch.com or www.tripadvisor.com for more listings.