The 14 Best Breweries in San Francisco Right Now
As the birthplace of America’s craft beer scene, you’re sure to find a brew to suit your style here in SF.
First, let’s start with some fun facts from the California Craft Brewers Association: 1. Nearly 95% of California residents live within ten miles of a brewery. 2. There are more than 1,100 craft breweries in operation across the state, more than any other state in the nation (300 of which are in NorCal). And 3. The San Francisco Bay Area was the birthplace of craft beer in the US. If you’re reading this, you probably knew that last one already, but hey, we gotta get our bragging rights where we can these days!
All-in-all, that’s a lot of breweries and a lot of beer, which means if you want to try even a tenth of those spots, you have a lot of “work” ahead. But what better place to roll up your sleeves and start than in SF, which is home to around 30 breweries, 14 of which we are lucky enough to call our hometown favorites.
Local Brewing Co.
Local Brewing truly keeps it local with a slew of beers made by head brewer and co-founder Regan Long who holds degrees in physics and oceanography, has tons of experience in science, and is just an all-around badass, but especially when it comes to her approachable beers with clever and often Bay Area-based names. The taproom has a dozen rotating beers, all brewed on-site, and a stellar food situation complete with pizzettes, sandwiches, and sausages. A great stop pre-Giants game or just any time at all.
Park Chalet Garden Restaurant
Park Chalet’s biggest draw may be its expansive dog-friendly lawn where one can often find live music, but the hand-crafted ales and lagers are all plenty of reason for a visit to the beach. The beers are pretty traditional: honey wheat, West Coast IPA, Kolsch, etc., but that just means there’s something for almost every kind of beer drinker. You can’t get the beers anywhere else, but you can take them home in a growler. (And fine, you can also find them at their sister restaurant, Beach Chalet, which is the beer’s namesake, but those in the know understand that Beach Chalet is for tourists and Park Chalet is for the rest of us.)
21st Amendment Brewery & Restaurant
21st Amendment moved most of its beer production to a sprawling brewery in San Leandro, but the brewers at the SF location still produce a couple of new small-batch one-off releases every week, which means it qualifies for this list. The brewery—named after the amendment that ended prohibition—has a couple of year-round beers (the Brew Free or Die IPA is probably the most popular) but is also known for its seasonal beers, specifically Hell or High Watermelon wheat beer.
Cellarmaker Brewing Company
Cellarmaker is quite possibly SF’s most popular brewery and it’s not because they make an awesome flagship beer. It’s the exact opposite. The owners/brewers at Cellarmaker say they’d be bored making the same couple of beers all of the time, so instead, they’re constantly producing small batches of experimental beers. There are 12 beers on tap in the cozy tasting room, and although you can’t count on drinking whatever it is you loved the last time you were in, you can count on three to four of the taps pouring some of the best hoppy IPAs you’ll ever drink. Pro-tips: 1. Bring your growler if you want to take some home. 2. If you would like some of SF’s best Detroit-style pizza with your beer (which you do), head to Cellarmaker House of Pizza in the Mission, where there are nine beers on tap.
Laughing Monk Brewing
This industrial-style small-batch brewery is popular because of its inventive California-meets-Belgian style beer, but also because there’s almost always something fun going on there, like trivia, pinball, collabs with other breweries, food trucks, and lots of employees who love to talk about beer. There are 16 rotating taps in the 1,000-square foot tasting room (there’s also a parklet), and if the Rhubarbra Strawsand Sour (a sour ale with a focus on rhubarb and accents of strawberry) is available, definitely get that one.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” was never more true than when Speakeasy suddenly shut down in 2017. Maybe most San Franciscans hadn’t had a Big Daddy IPA or Prohibition Ale in years, but to not even have the option to drink Speakeasy’s bold, complex beers was too much to handle. Luckily, it was brought back to life a few months later, and we’ll never take it for granted again. The prohibition era-themed taproom has 17 beers on draft, including the aforementioned two usual suspects, but the move is to try a limited release.
Black Hammer Brewing
If you like to really nerd out about beer, Black Hammer Brewing is your spot. The beer is made by two guys, one who earned awards for his home brews and one who was a chemical engineer, and both of whom like Burning Man enough that they vaguely referenced its location in the brewery’s name. Together, they create all kinds of ales and lagers using a mix of traditional methods and science experiments. The brewery—which doubles as a great spot to work from since it has outlets everywhere and a garage-style door that rolls up for fresh air and sunshine—has 12 fermenters, and the beers change daily as inspiration strikes. Though not a brewery, Black Hammer is also behind the beer garden and sausage haus Willkommen in the Castro.
New Belgium Taproom & Restaurant
When you think of New Belgian Brewing, you probably think of Fat Tire and Colorado, but now you can also think of SF as the home of its first flagship restaurant and taproom. Located in Mission Bay, close to both the Giants and the Warriors stadiums, New Belgian is a full-service spot that can handle the crowds indoors and on the waterfront patio (canal, not Bay) with views of Oracle Park’s scoreboard. You can order a bunch of the New Belgium classics, but what you should do instead is try the small-batch releases brewed on-site, especially if there’s a sour on the menu.
Anchor Brewing Company
Sapporo may have bought this historic brewery responsible for the first craft beer in America in 2017, but it still is—and always will be—a favorite staple of the San Francisco beer scene, as proven by the fact that it’s been around for 125+ years. The brewery offers public tours and tastings, but if you want to drink your beer without 60 minutes of learning beforehand, head to Public Taps (an indoor/outdoor space across the street from the brewery), where you can get beers exclusively brewed for the space. Definitely try some of those, but don’t shy away from ordering the classic Anchor Steam Beer as well. Yes, we know you can get it at pretty much any grocery store in the Bay Area, but it tastes even better fresh from the keg.
Fort Point Beer Co.
Fort Point came onto the SF beer scene in 2014 and found instant popularity. The secret to its success is its approachability. It’s kind of like that kid in high school who is genuinely nice to everyone—thoughtful, balanced, and easy to be around. The main brewery is in a historic Crissy Field building that was once used as an Army motor pool but isn’t allowed to serve the public. But you can still enjoy the beer at Fort Point’s flagship beer hall in the Mission which comes equipped with tons of seating, including dog-friendly outdoor tables; a food menu focused on SF-style seafood, like Dungeness Crab Rolls and Cioppino; and 20 taps, 10 of which are guest taps. Want a beer after your weekend farmers market shopping? There’s also a cozy Fort Point kiosk in the Ferry Building.
Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery
Brewmaster Dave McLean started brewing balanced, sessionable beers in a seven-barrel brewery in the basement of the Haight Street brewpub in 1997. Today, Magnolia brews dozens of beers that run the gamut of flavors and styles, so you can always find whatever you’re craving. McLean is no longer a part of Magnolia, but the beer remains as interesting and innovative as ever. The Dogpatch location closed in early 2022, but the Haight Street location was always a lot cooler anyway—it’s still thriving and offering 12 beers on tap (most of which you can also take home in a growler) and tasty pub fare.
Seven Stills (a play on the seven hills of SF) makes craft beer and craft whiskey distilled from craft beer, which means it is automatically one of our favorites in the city. The thing to do is taste a beer and the whiskey made from that beer side-by-side, which you can do at the sprawling main location where the magic happens (they also make vodka, gin, and canned cocktails). At that huge space, you’ll also find guided tours and tastings, 20 beers on tap, a full bar, a billiards room, a beer garden, and a delicious food menu. If you live on the other side of the city, the Outer Sunset taproom is definitely no-frills in comparison, but it still offers five taps of Seven Stills beers (plus flights), three guest taps, and street tacos.
Standard Deviant Brewing
If you’re looking for “a great place to smash a few cold ones,” look no further than this laid-back brewery housed in a former auto body shop on 14th Street where you’ll find a wide variety of styles of rotating beers, ranging from crisp, Mexican-style lagers to refreshing West Coast IPAs to tart saisons—all of them served ice cold. Seriously, if you like your beer really cold, this is your spot. There’s also shuffleboard and food from local restaurants and food trucks on the weekends.
Barebottle Brewing Company
If you have kids and you like hazy IPAs then Barebottle is quite likely already as much as part of your vocab as the names and jobs of all the Paw Patrol pups, since this expansive taproom is kid-friendly and has games that people of all ages will appreciate, including shuffleboard, ping pong, pinball, and more. Dogs are also allowed, so the space feels very lively on the weekends when it’s filled with both. You can also bring your own food, but there’s usually a food truck or pop-up serving up tasty bites if you’d prefer to not pack your own lunch. As far as what to order—this is definitely the spot to start with a tasting flight.