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Jun 24, 2012 05:58 PM

Great beer bar in SF?

We will be in SF tomorrow evening. In search of a great beer bar, preferably a place that may have some sour beers on top. We will be staying near union square, but are willing to venture anywhere within the city. Thanks!

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  1. We loved Toronado, and it is in fact the first place I ever tried sours so I have an extra soft spot for it. The 'tender was very nice to me, a non-beer-o-phile and I was trepidatious as I gather they are not always so easy going there. He gave me several tastes before each round to help me select my beers. Happy hour goes on seemingly all day -- they were practically paying us to drink. YMMV as we were there in the afternoon to enjoy the burgers from next door at Rosamunde's on a Wednesday.

    1. in Addition to Toronado
      Zeitgeist has a great beer garden and a good selection of beers.
      Restaurants that focus on beer:
      Monks Kettle
      Schmidt's (Food is meh but good beer list

      1. P.S. For a really great beer bar take BART to Oakland
        The Trappist
        Beer Revolution

        1 Reply
        1. re: chefj

          Since the OP is looking specifically for sours, I thought I might mention City Beer as well -- they had a couple on tap when we were there during our April visit, though again we were there in the afternoon so not sure what the ambiance would be like of an evening. The bar itself is absolutely gorgeous however.

          This seems like a rather fine resource as well:

        2. Church Key and Le Trappe, both in North Beach, have bottles of sour. Le Trappe's only sour beer on tap is Petrus Oud Bruin. Church Key doesn't have that many taps, so it's unlikely to have more than one sour.

          1. Toronado's probably the first choice for many beer geeks within SF proper - the place has certainly been around the longest, and generally has a good selection of beers available (though whether any of the ones on tap will be sours is up in the air). If you're going that route, I'd consider looking over their bottle list, especially to see if they have bottles of Cable Car available - very limited-production sour made by Lost Abbey Brewing down in San Marcos, solely for the Toronado outposts here and in SD, and for on-premise consumption only. The bottles aren't cheap ($40, last I heard), but well-received among the beer-geek crowd. I personally haven't tried it yet, though, because the fabled Toronado 'tude, coupled with its rather inconvenient location in the Haight, tends to stop me in my tracks.

            City Beer is a lot closer to Union Square, and if you're looking to tote any bottles back home with you, that's probably the way to go (though SoCal tends to get pretty much anything NorCal gets in terms of beer) - they have something like 10-12 taps, usually with at least 1 or 2 very interesting sours, but shelves upon shelves of interesting bottles that can be bought to take away. They also have the "special" bottles cooler behind the bar that usually holds several high-demand, rarer sours, like ones from Cantillon, Cascade, and the Bruery - those are on-premise consumption only, though. You'll also pay a pricing premium for pretty much anything in the place.

            Monk's Kettle, unlike either Toronado or City Beer, has a kitchen, and I think the food's pretty good. They often have a few interesting sours on tap - looking on their website, seems like they've been pouring 2 different vintages of Russian River Consecration as of last Friday - and some interesting ones in bottle as well, but their pricing scheme, at least for bottles, is simply brutal, much more like typical restaurant wine markups (2-3x retail) than the usual prices I see at almost any other beer bar or shop in the Bay Area.

            All that said, I personally spend most of my time at Trappist and Beer Revolution in Oakland, mainly because I live there, but also because they're both ridiculously-awesome beer bars that I think beat any of SF's options. If you were willing to hop on the BART to the 12th Street station, I'd honestly say do that and check out both.

            Have fun!

            5 Replies
            1. re: Spatlese

              From Union Square it's just as easy to get to 12th St. in Oakland as it is to the Haight. Fifteen minutes on BART and a five-minute walk.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                yes but both of the beer bars are a bit of a walk from 12th st

                1. re: vulber

                  12th to 8th, and that's on the short side. It really is only 5 well-lit minutes.

                  1. re: vulber

                    That's not true. The Trappist is like two blocks if you use the south stairs.

                    I know people are wary of being in Oakland, and there are definitely areas I would avoid at night, but the 12th St area is not one of them. I used to work in that area and we used to grab drinks after work all the time. Not once did anything happen to me.

                    1. re: dunstable

                      Plus you get the benefit of being really close to Oakland Chinatown and the incredible pairing of the Trappist followed by Spices!3.