San Francisco has always attracted the creative, the driven, and the quirky. These same attributes have helped burnish the city's credentials as one of the great beer cities of the world.
Like the city itself, the beer here evolves to include both timeless classics and innovative originals. We surveyed the boozy spectrum to compile this list of our favorite places in SF to enjoy a proper pint.
San Francisco's Best Breweries and Brewpubs
Sidewalk seating, a parklet, and food from Rosamunde make Black Hammer an easy spot to stay and sip a while.
(Courtesy of Black Hammer Brewing)
Beer begins at a brewery, so it seems fitting that any beer guide to San Francisco would start there. The following is a list of a few of the most notable, but there are currently more than 25 breweries in SF—check out the Bay Area Brewers Guild for information on the rest.
Anchor Brewing Co.
Founded in 1896 in Russian Hill, Anchor is America's first craft brewery and San Francisco's only remaining brewer from the 19th century. After years of struggling to stay solvent, Anchor was on the verge of bankruptcy when it was rescued in 1965 by Fritz Maytag, a recent Stanford graduate and heir to the Maytag washing machine company. By the 1970s, while most brewers were pumping out homogenized lagers, Maytag brought back beer styles such as steam beer, porter, barley wine, Christmas ale and, perhaps most importantly, a hoppy little brew called Liberty Ale, arguably the first American IPA. Anchor bought its current brewery building in 1977 and offers the best brewery tour in the city, including a sampling of 12 beers on tap. You can also check out Anchor's Public Taps and pilot brewery across the street, where you can taste an exclusive collection of beers, bring the kids and dog and catch various pop-up events. // Main brewery: 1705 Mariposa St. (Potrero Hill),anchorbrewing.com; Public Taps: 495 De Haro St. (Potrero Hill), anchorbrewing.com/publictaps
Barebottle Brewing Co.
Known for using local ingredients in its kettle sours and crisp IPAs, Barebottle also supports the local home brewing community. After Barebottle's cofounders realized some of the best, most innovative beers in America were being developed by home brewers, they decided to host home brew competitions and put the winning entries on tap. Their website includes all of the original recipes and labels for their canned and bottled beers, which home brewers are invited to use and tweak. Barebottle recently took gold at the Great American Beer Festival for its Cryo Chemistry IPA. // 1525 Cortland Ave. (Bernal Heights),barebottle.com
Cellarmaker Brewing Co.
When Cellarmaker's brewery and cozy tap house opened in 2013, founders Connor Casey and Tim Sciascia set a high bar for themselves: no flagship beers. "Constantly making new flavors is more exciting for us, and hopefully people will respond well to that." Their fans, both nearby and far-flung, have responded enthusiastically: In 2020, RateBeer recognized Cellarmaker as the 43rd best brewer in the world among the 36,000 breweries they track. The brewer's sister Detroit-style House of Pizza (3193 Mission St.) also generates a lot of buzz. Look for their new Oakland brewery to open at Jack London Square in late 2022 or early 2023. // 1150 Howard St. (SoMa); 3193 Mission St. (Mission); 300 Webster St. (Oakland),cellarmaker.com
Black Hammer Brewing
Black Hammer Brewing cofounder Jim Furman saw the popularity of his beers while brewing them for members of his Burning Man camp. Furman, whose Burner name is Hammer, subsequently launched his brewpub in 2015. In 2019, he opened Wilkommen, a brewpub and beer garden in the Castro. While Black Hammer focuses on German-style beers such as helles and kolsch, the brewery also offers IPAs, hard seltzers, and gluten-removed beers. When you're drinking at the brewery, food is available from Rosamunde’s menu of German-American fusion fare. // Black Hammer Brewing, 544 Bryant St. (SoMa); Wilkommen, 2196 Market St. (Castro), blackhammerbrewing.com
21st Amendment Brewery
21A's spacious SoMa brewpub not only pours fresh versions of their year-round brews—including Brew Free or Die; El Sully; and Blah, Blah, Blah IPA—but also keeps chilled experimental beers, seasonal drafts, and collaboration brews on tap. The kitchen cooks up superior pub grub and gut-busting brunches. East Bay residents can drop by the huge San Leandro Brewery & Tap Room with an outdoor beer garden. Check their Facebook events page for specials at both locations including beer releases, live music, and more. // 21st Amendment Brewery, 563 2nd St. (SoMa), taproom at 2010 Williams St. (San Leandro); 21st-amendment.com
Known for elevated pub fare and cocktails, this Union Square small-batch brewery takes beer seriously. Recent awards include a gold medal for its Layer Bar (an imperial stout) and a silver medal for the Powell St. Porter. The historic brewpub is decked out with dark wood and leather and features a large projector screen for a killer beer-drinking and game-watching experience. // 242 O'Farrell St. (TenderNob), bartletthall.com
Woods Beer & Wine Co.
Woods Beer & Wine Co. is the city’s most innovative small-batch brewer with refreshers such as their hibiscus-infused Morpho ale, the tropical fruit–inflected Crusoe IPA, their flagship mate-infused MateVeza IPA, and the Divine Origins Merlot Red Ale—a beer-wine hybrid. The brewery now has six locations, four of which are in San Francisco. They've also expanded production to include natural wines. // 3801 18th St. (Mission) and multiple locations, woodsbeer.com
San Francisco Bars and Restaurants for Beer Lovers
With 80 seats, there's plenty of room for everyone to partake of the astonishing collection of foreign and domestic brews at Mikkeller Bar SF.
It’s not just your imagination, San Francisco has the most bars per capita of any city in the U.S. If you're more into beer flights than wine pairings, check out some of these only-in-SF gastropubs, tap houses, and old-school dives.
Black Horse London Pub
More public hallway than public house, the Black Horse packs acres of fun into its 136 square feet of floor space. The bar has nine barstools and one cask beer—the remaining bottled and canned stock is iced in a claw-foot bathtub behind the bar. What more could you want? Whether it's the pint-sized space or the winning choreography of James and Cassandra who work the bar, the place fosters conviviality, conversation, and the inevitable 1-4-24 dice game. Other items to note before visiting: Cell phone use is forbidden, men are expected to give up their seats to women, the bar is open every day, and accepts cash or Venmo only. // 1514 Union St. (Cow Hollow), blackhorselondon.com
This modern but comfortable gastropub slips into the mid-Market Twitter hood like a Kia into a Carmatrix. In addition to offering a rotating selection of 22 California beers, ciders and hard kombuchas on tap, the kitchen cranks out a wide selection of seasonal pickled veggies, deviled eggs, cheese and charcuterie plates, Impossible Burgers, and duck fat fries. // 1230 Market St. (Civic Center), fermlabsf.com
Rate Beer ranked this Danish brewery as the 21st best in the world. The brewer's sleek 80-seat beerhall serves a wide selection of its own innovative beers like the Double Blush Imperial Berliner Weisse and Big Sky Lullaby, a hazy imperial IPA, as well as an astonishing collection of foreign and domestic brews. The 40 kegs are stored in perfectly chilled coolers and are dispensed precisely using the Flux Capacitor, which infuses each beer with the optimum level of either carbon dioxide or nitrogen. Mikkeller also stocks more than 100 bottled gems. The food menu is meat- and sausage-heavy, all selected to pair with the beers. Sour fans should head downstairs and check out the Tivoli Sour Room. // 34 Mason St. (Tenderloin), mikkeller.com
The Monk's Kettle
Consistently named among the best beer bars in America, Monk's Kettle promises an expertly curated beer selection with seasonally driven cuisine to match—plus truly knowledgeable staff who can help you navigate both extensive menus. Twenty-eight taps pour out local favorites such as Russian River's Pliny the Elder and Moonlight's Death and Taxes as well as a solid selection of Belgian ales. Co-owner Christian Albertson buys and cellars their extensive selection of collectible beers. // 3141 16th St. (Mission), monkskettle.com
This renowned Haight Street mecca for craft beer has great prices, more than 40 beers on draft, several more on cask, and is topped off by an insane bottle and can selection. Although the bartenders have a reputation for surliness, feel free to ask your neighbors for recommendations—you can't swing an empty firkin here without hitting a beer expert. // 547 Haight St. (Lower Haight), toronado.com
Sixty-four taps of craft beer, pitchers, a full bar, classic pub grub, and a sunny backyard make this Mission dive one of the best day drinking venues in the city. Note that the bouncers will readily 86 patrons who do something stupid, illegal, or annoying, which is all the more reason to hang out here. // 199 Valencia St. (Mission), zeitgeistsf.com
San Francisco's Go-To Beer Stores
The wide, colorful array at City Beer Store.
Sure, you can buy beer pretty much anywhere. But these stores not only have an extensive selection of craft brews, they also employ passionate, knowledgeable, and patient staff who listen to your preferences to help you find familiar brews or steer you to new ones.
City Beer Store
City Beer Store warehouses more than 300 different craft beers, ciders, hard seltzers, wines, and sakes, including a collection of rare and vintage brews. Anything in the store can be purchased for drinking onsite. Prefer a draft brew? Pull up a stool at the bar and select from more than 20 rotating taps offering an eclectic selection of mostly northern California craft beers, ciders, and seltzers. Wines are also available. Shop online for pickup or delivery (SF only) or shipping (CA only). City Beer is SF's most sought-after venue for craft brewers to showcase new beers, so sign up for their newsletter to stay current on what's coming soon to a glass near you. // 853 Valencia St. (Mission), citybeerstore.com
Finely curated selections of craft beer are available at all four stores where they are supported by knowledgeable and helpful personnel. Healthy Spirits also offers a beer of the month club that bundles rare and limited releases. Club members receive a 10 percent discount on all purchases and priority access to cellar sales and special offerings. The stores also stock stellar whiskies and agave spirits. // 2299 15th St. (Duboce Triangle); 1042 Clement St. (Inner Richmond); 249 Cortland Ave. (Bernal Heights); 300 Valencia St. (Mission), healthyspiritssf.com
The Jug Shop
Family-owned since 1965, The Jug Shop stocks a warehouse-sized selection of domestic and international craft brews. The shop runs frequent specials and hosts occasional tasting events. Use the helpful website to order party-sized quantities for delivery. The shop also has a dedicated catering and event staff headed by a certified sommelier and a certified cicerone. // 1648 Pacific Ave. (Nob Hill), thejugshop.com
When you want a chilled keg of Lagunitas IPA for a picnic, you aren't likely to find it in your Polk Gulch bodega, but you can pop online and order one from the closest BevMo. With three locations in San Francisco, you may not find any cicerones working the floor, but you will find good selections at great prices. // 201 Bayshore Blvd. (Bayview); 3455 Geary Blvd. (Inner Richmond); 1301 Van Ness Ave. (Pacific Heights), bevmo.com
Great Beer Festivals in San Francisco
Music lovers call Outside Lands a music festival. Beer lovers? You get the idea. The annual fest in Golden Gate Park features a beer garden with about 30 curated regional beers just right for pairing with the excellent food offering.
(Courtesy of brokeassstuart.com)
We love to celebrate here in SF—street fairs, LGBTQ Pride, food festivals, concerts, regular holidays, and all kinds of made-up events like the Saint Stupid's Day Parade, Hunky Jesus Contest, and the How Weird Street Faire. As with everything else, we put our own spin on beer fests, too.
SF Beer Week, Opening Gala
While there are hundreds of posted events during SF Beer Week, the opening gala is the pinnacle beer event of the festival (and the year, if you're a beer freak). Spring for the VIP tickets to slip in an hour before the main crowd. The party features 80 breweries from Northern California serving some of the most creative and compelling beers in the region. // Feb. 10-19, 2023 at Pier 35 (Embarcadero), sfbeerweek.org
Although most attendees think of Outside Lands as a music festival with beer, one could also flip the script and think of it as a beer festival with music. Every year there's a curated selection limited to about 30 of Northern California's finest breweries, accompanied by dozens of world-class food vendors serving everything from truffled brie grilled cheeses to bacon samplers. There's also wine, cocktails, cannabis, and, you know, music. // Aug. 5-7, 2022 in Golden Gate Park, sfoutsidelands.com
Schroeder's, the oldest and largest German restaurant on the West Coast, cranks the Bavarian up to 11 with a Friday block party followed by several weekends' worth of traditional Hofbräu hilarity including fresh Spaten, stein holding contests, polka bands, and chicken dances. Don't miss classic Oktoberfest food specialties including wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, and spätzle. // Sept. 16, 2022 at Schroeder's, 240 Front St. (FiDi), schroederssf.com
Brews on the Bay
Mid-October is the perfect time of year to be in San Francisco, when most tourists are back home and the weather is usually sunny and warm. This also makes it a memorable time for this unique beer fest aboard the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, a historic ship from the World War II Merchant Marine era. Enjoy unlimited eight-ounce pours of more than 80 mostly local brews along with live music, food for purchase, and spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and SF. // Oct. 22, 2022 at Pier 45 (Embarcadero), brewsonthebay.org
Anchor Steam Week
With roots in San Francisco going back to the Gold Rush, the City of SF honors Anchor Brewing Co. with a whole week dedicated to its pioneering spirit and commitment to brewing locally. Raise your Anchor to the craft beer that started it all at the seventh annual Anchor Steam Week. Be the first to shop the new limited Steam X Culk capsule collection brewed up with SF artist Sam Culkins. Plus, enjoy Anchor Steam flights, beer-battered fish tacos from Sam's Chowder Mobile, a DJ spinning vinyl, games, prizes, and more. // 12:30pm to 4pm Sunday, August 14th at Anchor Public Taps, 495 De Haro St. (Potrero Hill); details at facebook.com/anchorpublictaps
Thank you to our partners at Anchor Steam.