This past week found me in San Francisco for work, and while this most definitely was not a “beer trip” I did have some time to explore some of the city’s best beer spots. I really, really enjoyed what I saw of the city, from the long walk I took on the waterfront to exploring the famous Haight Ashbury neighborhood. Here are the beer places I was able to visit:
City Beer Store – Conveniently located just a few blocks from my downtown hotel, I made it in here a couple of times. Great selection of bottles and around 10 beers on tap gave me plenty to choose from. They seem to often hold special events, as one night they were hosting a release for a new local brewery and the other night they were pouring a four year vertical of Deschutes The Abyss.
The Toronado – This is known as one of the country’s best beer bars, and after spending a few hours here I can understand why. Great place to grab a sausage from next door at Rosamunde (I had the duck & fig), pull up a bar stool and down some great beer from nearby and around the world. They had a nice selection of Belgians mixed in with domestic craft beers. For me it was all California beers with some Ballast Point Sculpin IPA mixed in with pints of Russian River Blind Pig and a Russian River Batch 23 Damnation. The bartender was a no bull shit type of guy who didn’t welcome stupid questions from customers and made no effort to hide his feelings (I saw several examples). But, after getting to talk to him a bit he was a hell of a nice guy. This isn’t a fancy place, and the attitude isn’t for everyone. I loved it though and especially respected the affordable prices on their draft beers during their daily happy hour from 11:30am to 6pm; I was paying $3 per pint for Blind Pig and $4 for Sculpin. Hell yeah.
21st Amendment – We’ve been drinking 21A beers here in Seattle for several years now, and it was nice to finally make it to the brewpub. They brew a lot of specialty beers in-house here, while their main lineup and high volume beers are brewed offsite. The brewpub is near the baseball stadium, and this would be a great spot to go pre-game. I sampled the Red Dwarf Red IPA and the Repeal Day IPA, both of which were solid.
Magnolia Pub & Brewery - I really enjoyed this small brewpub located in the heart of Haight Ashbury. The beers were enjoyable (minus a buttery IPA), the salumi and cheese plate I had was great, and the atmosphere was perfect for me (complete with Dead on the stereo). Great, relaxed spot to pull up a bar stool or grab a chair at one of their sunny sidewalk tables.
We also ate at some pretty great restaurants: Oola, Restaurant Lulu, and Chaya Brasserie. I also made it for coffee at Blue Bottle down at the Ferry Terminal Building, and in addition to the coffee their mini-waffles were ridiculously good.
I can’t wait to come back sometime soon and check out more of the city.