The Best Beer Bar in Every SF ‘Hood
Jack Nicholson once said, “Beer, it’s the best damn drink in the world,” and we have to say, we wholeheartedly agree. Of course, we’d also say that about whiskey. And wine. And sometimes when we’re on vacation, piña coladas. But it’s definitely always true about beer. Which is why we like to know where we can find a good one nearby at all times. Hence this handy list detailing the best beer bar in every SF ‘hood. You can thank us later. Over beers, preferably. Cheers!
You don’t have to take a tour of the brewery (although you can on Saturdays if you book it 24 hours in advance) to enjoy a Speakeasy beer in their speakeasy-inspired taproom. The 12 rotating taps are available in tasting flights, pints, bottles, cans, and even growlers to-go. Get a buck off tap pours Tuesday through Friday from 1-5pm and keep your pint glass on Tuesday nights.
This neighborhood brewpub has 14 beers on tap, a few of which are brewed in-house and are typically classic American- and Belgian-style beers, but reinterpreted. The guys who make the beer started by home-brewing, so they’re pretty stoked about their steam-fired four barrel brewhouse. And you can tell just how stoked with each sip you take. Try a flight of OBT beers because how else will you know which one is your favorite?
This Argentine bar and bottle shop by Dolores Park is known for its craft beer infused with yerba mate, a naturally caffeinated herb from South America. Which means you can drink a ton of beer and never get sleepy... which is... great? Grab a seat at the bar or by the window of the cozy spot and enjoy one of the seven beers on tap or grab one of the many beers in the fridge and pay an extra buck to have them open it for you. Oh, and don’t skip the empanadas. Not that you would.
The first thing any good beer drinker will notice when he or she walks into this Belgian-inspired brasserie is the wall of refrigerated bottled beers complete with sliding ladder. There are over 60 to choose from at any given time, all of which are organized by “light,” “hoppy,” “malty,” “funky,” “fruity,” “sour,” “contemporary,” and “classic,” to help you make the tough decisions as to what you’re going to order first. There’s even a “celebratory” section. Why bust out the Champagne when you can order a $130 bottle of Duvel Golden? There are also 10 beers on draft and, yes, even beer cocktails.
Brewcade is basically what you thought being an adult was actually going to be like when you were a kid: tons and tons of video games and tons and tons of beer. Twenty-one games, 24 beers on tap, and 70 more in bottles and cans, to be exact. Just know that you get really good at Ms. Pac-Man after two beers, but those ghosts get really fast after about four.
You know what goes great with BBQ? Beer. And, hallelujah, there’s plenty of both at Smokestack. There are 20 beers on tap, most of which are pouring Magnolia, though there’s always a chance a guest brew will make an appearance. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a trio of cask ales. And a full bar with a lot of American whiskeys. So yeah. If you’re not going to skimp on the drinks (which you’re not), be sure not to skimp on the barbecue.
For some reason, beer just tastes better when it’s consumed outside. At a tailgate, a cookout, or in this case, at Biergarten, the Bavarian-style beer garden in Hayes Valley. There aren’t a ton of beers on tap, but the rotating selection is always impressive. The only bummer? There’s always a line. But if you get a liter and not a half liter, which obviously you’re going to do, you get over that pretty quickly.
The Richmond Republic Draught House is everything a bar should be. TVs to watch the game, wings, and burgers, free Wi-Fi, and 24 beers on tap, all of which cost between six and eight bucks. Plus, if you join the Mug Club, you’ll get $1 off every beer AND a free beer on Tuesdays, which pretty much makes it the coolest club in town. Take THAT Bohemian Club.
SKB has 18 draft handles most of which are dedicated to the beer that’s made onsite, but a few of which are saved for guest beers. Not sure which one you want? Get the beer flight: six 3oz pours for $10. They serve pretty decent food, which means there are often parents with kids in tow, but hey: moms and dads need to drink beer, too. Maybe even more so than the rest of us, actually.
If you love beer, you love Toronado thanks to the fact that it was at the forefront of the craft beer movement in the ‘80s and even more thanks to the fact that it has 45 rotating beers on tap. People bitch about the surly bartenders, but as long as you use the board, know what you want before you go to order, and have your cash ready, you should be fine.
Lower Pacific Heights
SF Athletic Club is first and foremost a sports bar (they have 28 HD TVs). But it also has a dozen beers on tap and about two dozen in bottles and cans. Our favorite part? You can order a bathtub of beer to be delivered to your booth, and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like.
This place is named for session beers (you know, the ones with a lower ABV that British workers drank during WWI between shifts), but don’t worry: you can get beers with high alcohol percentages at this Presidio newcomer, as well. In fact, you can get 24 on tap and over a hundred in the bottle. They also have daily bottle pours and flights and an enormous back patio on which to happily enjoy them.
Fun fact time! The world’s first craft beer brewers with Belgian Trappist monks who brewed beer in kettles. Hence: Monk’s Kettle and the 200 rotating beers (29 drafts, 1 cask engine, and another 150 in the bottle) on the menu. Not sure what to order? The staff is super friendly, super knowledgeable, and super willing to make recommendations. AND the kitchen stays open until 1am.
California represent! Hopwater Distribution has 31 beers on draft, ALL of which are from the Golden State. The list rotates and includes a few tried-and-true favorites, as well as brews you likely haven’t tried before. Unless you’ve somehow tried every beer from all 425 of California’s breweries, in which case you should probably be the one writing this article.
Outside seating and 40 taps of beer right in the heart of North Beach? We’re in. There’s lots of Rogue beer, duh, but also plenty of guest taps. If you’re opting for the former, the sampler flight (four beers) is the way to go.
SRBC is housed in a massive space, which is a good thing since it means there’s usually an open table and rarely a wait. There are seven beers on draft, all of which are brewed in-house, and you can get a flight of six for $12 (the sour wheat is our favorite). And yes, this is about beer, not food, but if we didn’t mention the hush puppies, we’d be doing you a huge disservice. So, uh, get those, too.
The only way you’re getting into this brewery is if you book a tour that’ll cost ya $15. With that you get a walking tour, someone to drop some Anchor knowledge on you, and best of all: a 45-minute tasting in the taproom at the end of it all.
When you walk into Leopold’s, you’ll feel like Heidi and her goats are going to come running by any moment. Then you’ll be sad when they don’t. But then you’ll have one of the eight old-world beers on tap or one of the 20 bottles, and you’ll feel better. Because that’s how beer works.
It’s a bar. It’s a store. It’s City Beer Store! We love this laid back approach to trying and buying beer. There are 15 rotating taps in the bar area, or you can buy one of the hundreds of bottles in the store section and drink it there for a $1 corkage fee. And as if that’s not enough, the mascot is a platypus. And who doesn’t love a platypus? Exactly.
Hogwash is all about the swine and swill. The house-made sausage sandwiches are legit, as are the 30 beers on tap, which can be delivered by the pint or the 54oz Hog Goblet (you know which one you’re getting). Oh, and order the fried pickles. They’re probably the best in town.
Is Magnolia on this list twice? Why yes, it is. That’s just what happens when you’re the best beer bar in two separate ‘hoods. You won’t find as many beers on tap at this Haight St spot as you will at the brewery, but it’s still a great spot to hit up for some grub and tasty suds. Download their app to find out what’s on tap at any given time.
The name should speak for itself with this one. But in case it doesn’t, please know that Mikkeller Bar has 42 taps, some of which are pouring local beers, a lot of which are pouring experimental Mikkellers. There’s also a super rare "on the fly" gas blending system which gives the bartenders precise control over every pour, which means your beer will always be the proper temperature. Skål!
Four beers are brewed in-house and another 30 taps are dedicated to guest beers from breweries like 21st Amendment and Fort Point. You can get a 5oz taste of any beer for $2.50. If you want to sample all of the house draft beers, a sample of each is $10. Go during happy hour (Monday through Friday, 4:30-6pm) to get two bucks off of house beers.