by Allie Pape - 10 Reviews - 45 List
With so many breweries in the city and the surrounding areas, it's no surprise that San Francisco is one of the best places in the country for beer aficionados. While you'll find at least some craft beer in even the diviest bars, these seven spots are particularly renowned for their selection of European and American artisanal brews. All this drinking might make you peckish, but with four of the seven serving gastropub fare and the other three allowing outside take-out, you can fuel up and continue sampling your way through the best Northern California has to offer. (Photo: Toronado by Bill Sysak)
Updated: September 13, 2011
San Francisco's original beer paradise is known for its wide selection of brews, reasonable prices, loud music and surly staff. This isn't the place to for an education, but if you know your brews, you'll be in heaven. Grab a handmade sausage on a Kaiser roll from Rosamunde next door (you can eat it in the bar) to complete the experience.
While this SOMA shop does have a wide selection of bottles and six-packs to-go, it's also a great place to come for the rare brews rotating through the six taps. The tiny space can get crowded, but the friendly staff is happy to recommend a draft or bottle to enjoy in-house (corkage is $1 extra, and the fridges are always stocked). Don't come here for the full bar experience, though--the store closes at 10pm.
For serious beer pairing, head to this Mission outpost, which specializes in a wide selection of obscure American and Belgian beers. The dizzying bottle list, with many rare finds, can make a beer lover weak in the knees (as can the prices). It's impossible to get a seat in the tiny space without committing to eating--there are no tables for drinkers only, just a very tiny bar--so plan on enjoying your beer with the seasonal cuisine, which includes roasted mushroom risotto and three-day ale bricked chicken.
For a more authentically Belgian experience than the cosmopolitan Monk's Kettle, head to this North Beach beer bar, which features a gargantuan library of Belgian brews paired with reasonably priced traditional cuisine such as moules frites (prepared three different ways) and rabbit stew. Since everything's imported, beers can get pricey, but the romantic downstairs, complete with exposed brick, merits the extra cash.
This legendary Haight Street brewpub was named for a Grateful Dead song, but as the years have passed, the atmosphere has become far more hip than hippie. A wide variety of fantastic beers are brewed in-house; we like the Proving Ground IPA and the Sara's Ruby Mild. Seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine ranges from braised pork cheeks to stuffed summer squash, along with five varieties of house-made sausage.
Though it's only a year old, this Oakland beer bar has already won the hearts of East Bay suds aficionados with its vast array of taps (more than 50), big bottle selection (available to-go), friendly staff, and sunny front patio. The space isn't big, and it can be hard to find a seat outside on a nice day, but once you've settled in, you'll find more than enough to try at prices that don't break the bank. There's no food, but Souley Vegan, a vegan soul-food place around the corner, does a brisk take-out business with drinkers in need of sustenance.
Just five blocks away from Beer Revolution, this popular spot is more upscale, with 28 taps of Belgian brews and simple, hearty cuisine. All the Trappist favorites are on draft, each served in its own special glass. The occasional American Belgian-style brew makes the list as well.