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Mar 8, 2010 03:42 PM

Looking for Best Craft Beer Bars in the Bay Area

I will be in town for a month and would like to visit all Craft/Better beer bars in the bay area. Please help. Thanks

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  1. Trappist in Oakland, City Beer in SF.

    1. Here's a start off the top of my head:

      San Francisco:
      Toronado (beer bar)
      City Beer (beer bar/store)
      21st Amendment (brewery/brewpub)
      La Trappe (beer bar/restaurant)
      Monk's Kettle (beer bar/restaurant)

      East Bay:
      Barclays (brewpub)
      Pacific Coast Brewery (brewery/brewpub/has guest beers)
      Trappist (beer bar)
      Beer Revolution (beer bar/store)
      Triple Rock (brewery/brewpub)

      Marin Brewing Company (brewery/brewpub)
      Moylans (brewery/brewpub)
      Russian River Brewing Company (brewery/brewpub)
      Bear Republic (brewery/brewpub)

      6 Replies
      1. re: The Dive

        Is the beer at 21st Amendment good these days? I've never been terribly impressed except on the occasional cask night.

        Pacific Coast is maybe OK as a fallback if Trappist is closed or too crowded.

        Barclays is not a brewpub, just a pub with a lot of taps.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          it's good but not great, though some of their special and seasonal beers are quite good. I like Monks Blood a lot

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            For SF, I'd skip 21st Amendment, second the recommendations for Toronado and City Beer, and add a recommendation for the Alembic, which is a bar that has a number of great unusual beers on tap and an excellent list by the bottle. Same owners as Magnolia but I like the food and ambiance better; some Magnolia beers show up at the Alembic, but they seem to be a limited set of Magnolia's better beers.

            Suppenkuche is _great_ for German beer. It's a zoo at dinner and during weekend Brunch, but I like to go between late afternoon and early evening when it isn't too crowded.

            1. re: SteveG

              good call, I should have mentioned Alembic. For me, the biggest draw of 21A is that it's near the ballpark. You can usually find a drinkable beer on the board, but I think Speakeasy makes better beer in general and has a party every Friday night that the OP should consider. $3 pints.

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              I was feeling the same way for a while about 21st Amendment, but was impressed by their recent strong beer selections for SF Beer Week and their seasonal beers.

              I was using "brewpub" more as shorthand for places that have food and beer.

              I agree that Trappist is better than PCB, but a combined trip can work sometimes (esp. if you need food and there are some interesting guest beers on tap).

              Also, I have to say that Triple Rock is well-worth a stop these days -- the beers are just getting better and better with the new brewer.

              1. re: The Dive

                Pacific Coast does sometimes have interesting guest beers, but my beer capacity has never been adequate to run out of things I want to try at The Trappist.

          2. I've been tracking down beer all over the Bay Area for the past few months.
            Definitely you should plan to visit Anchor. You have to phone in advance for a tour but it's well worth the effort.

            Toronado in the lower Haight has the most taps in the Bay Area, a bit of an attitude
            Magnolia is a brewpub in the upper Haight
            Zeitgeist is worth a visit
            Lucky 13 on Market and in Alameda (I like the Market pub better)
            Monk's Kettle in the Mission
            Rosamunde Sausages on Mission
            Pi Bar
            City Beer (taps plus bottles)
            Rogue Ales Public House in North Beach
            La Trappe
            21st Amendment
            Amsterdam Cafe
            Benders Bar and Grill
            Bistro Gambrinus
            Pig and Whistle
            Thirsty Bear (mostly for the cask conditioned ale)

            for stores in addition to City Beer try Whole Foods on market and on potrero and Healthy Spirits on Castro

            Some good ones in the East Bay
            Bistro (Hayward)
            Barclays (Oak)
            Ben and Nicks (Oak)
            Beckett''s (Berk)
            Bobby G's Pizza
            the Englander (san leandro)
            Pacific Coast
            Triple Rock
            Cafe Biere
            Luka's Taproom
            Manny's Taproom

            Marks West
            Rose and Crown

            Valley (stockton)
            Russian River (santa rosa)
            Speakeasy (SF)

            there's probably more
   has the entire list


            3 Replies
            1. re: chuckl

              I have some problems with Jupiter ... I kind of feel that they don't clean their taps enough.

              I wouldn't bother with Ben & Nick's with Barclays so close, unless you are pining for a Pliny and Barclays does not have it on their list that night.

              Forgot about Bistro and Cafe Biere - good picks.

              I've been loving the Valley stuff lately.

              1. re: chuckl

                Oh, and if you are looking for bottles, Ledger's in Berkeley is another good bet.

                1. re: The Dive

                  Ledger's has a good selection but it's a liquor store, not a bar.

              2. I would also add Pizza Orgasmica, which makes excellent beer, but pretty bad pizza

                1. I agree with the recs for SF and the East Bay. I would definitely focus my time in the North Bay, SF, and the East Bay. The Peninsula for the most part is a beer wasteland. There is one good beer bar, the Rose and Crown in Palo Alto, and one good beer store, K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City.

                  As I do most of my beer drinking in the North Bay, here are my recs. All of these places are focused on locally made beer.

                  Bear Republic Brewery (Healdsburg): They have a lot of brewery only beers. Racer X frequently is on tap.
                  Russian River Brewing (Santa Rosa): THE best brewery in the US.
                  Flavor (Santa Rosa): It is not a brewery, but they always have six beers on tap from Moonlight, a great local brewery.
                  Bottle Barn (Santa Rosa): Best bottle shop in the North Bay.
                  Lagunitas (Petaluma): They do a good tour and recently opened up a nice beer garden. Usually have a few brewery only beers on tap.
                  Taps (Petaluma): Great new beer bar in downtown Petaluma. Have roughly 30 taps.
                  Mondo (Sonoma): Laid back restaurant with really good taps.
                  Sonoma Springs Brewery (Sonoma): New brewery that makes some good German style beers. They also make a tasty Rye Pale Ale.
                  Moylans (Novato):Usually have around 15 of their beers on tap and usually have 2 solid cask offerings. Look for the Wet Hopsickle.
                  Marin Brewing (Larkspur): Good brewpub that puts out a great DIPA called White Knuckle. Their porter, stout, pale ale, and IPA are all very good.
                  Iron Springs (Fairfax): Another solid brewpub that makes some tasty ales. I like their stout, coffee porter, and DIPA.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: pininex

                    Sadly, your comment about the Peninsula is all too true, and the South Bay isn't much better. I was curious about Marks West in Redwood City. Have you been? The North Bay overall is the best beer producing area, though there are some contenders from the East Bay. And I couldn't agree more about Moonlight and Russian River. Pliny the Elder is a beer sacrament.

                    1. re: chuckl

                      I think you meant Martins West, which I have not visited. If the tap list from their website is any indication, I'm not missing much.

                      1. re: chuckl

                        Pickins on the peninsula are slim but not non-existent. The Refuge in San Carlos has a good bottle-oriented belgian list. City Pub in RC, Caffe Borrone in MP have fresh norcal IPAs, but with limited selection. BBC in MP has a wider variety, but less fresh taps. Rose and Crown probably has the best selection and freshest taps, but the atmosphere is windowless and depressing. Martin's West has a limited but not unappealing selection - girlfriend got a solid bottle of Draak there last weekend. Not worth a trip - but there's enough here and there. AFAIK, there is no Pliny the Elder.

                        And between San Carlos and South San Francisco - nothing. Or prove me wrong.

                        PS to chuckl - no beer list is complete without mention of Lanesplitter's two hand pump casks (one each location). Almost always something usual, too.

                        PS to OP - in a month you couldn't hit all the bars that have good fresh independant brewers, unless you singlemindedly persued the task as a mission hitting two sites a day.

                      2. re: pininex

                        Again, I can't stress enough that you have to go to Russian River Brewing -- it is a necessary prilgrimage for any beer lover visitng the Bay Area.

                        Used to live across the street from Moylans and the deal then was that they had the better beer and Marin Brewing had the better food. Now, I give the title on both fronts to Marin Brewing, but Moylans is still a worthwhile stop (still don't think the food is very good though).

                        I think Iron Springs' beer is getting better and better. Look for seasonal stuff.

                        1. re: The Dive

                          Absolute agreement on RRB. If you can't get up to the brewery, find one of the bars that has a lot of their taps. I think Toranado covers them quite well.

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            Toronado definitely. Whole Foods on 4th and City Beer have RR in bottles, including Pliny the Elder.