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May 2, 2013 02:00 PM

Help me find the right beer bars: I’m rather particular

My husband and I will be visiting SF this weekend and I wanted to get some good suggestions for beer bars that I might have missed hearing about. If we make it to The Haight I think we’ll definitely check out both Magnolia and Toronado. I’m looking for a place with a decent number of taps that’s going to have a good selection of microbrews that I can’t get here in Boston.

I do not care about the following; it’s fine if a bar has them, but it’s not what I’m looking for so it won’t impress me:

-Macro brews (that’s a given)
-Awesome beer from the East Coast (I can get that at home)

I’ve looked at the list from St. Vincent and it’s definitely along the lines of what I’m looking for, so any suggestions for similar lists would be great.

Thanks a lot!

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  1. I think Toronado and City Beer are tops for those criteria. Maybe Rogue.

    Magnolia's beers usually aren't all that exciting unless like me you're a big fan of hand pumps, of which they have five. Though even then I've usually found one that was a standout and the others were just meh by comparison.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      We are fans of English Bitters and cask beer in general, so that's why Magnolia looks particularly interesting to me. But based on what you and others are saying, I won't feel too bad if we don't make it there.

      Thanks for reminding me about Rogue; it's not too far from where we're staying.

      1. re: PiBerry

        If you do go to Magnolia, I suggest starting with little tasters of all the hand-pumped beers. If you like that style, it's definitely worth a detour.

        1. re: PiBerry

          It's pretty hard to find a good cask-conditioned English bitter in SF. I'll definitely check it out!

        1. Here are my tasting notes to a beer crawl

          I did not enjoy Magnolia, I would suggest Social Kitchen instead.

          Many of our better beers are globally distributed. The right place to send you is Portland, where there are a large number of beers that are not distributed to the east coast.

          And make sure you try Linden St somewhere. I'm very happy with what they're doing, not super-hoppy --- good and interesting balance --- and they're new enough that they haven't been distributed much.

          3 Replies
          1. re: bbulkow

            I have hit the "recommend" button and will also chime in with a seconding of Linden Street appreciation. I see you're looking to stick in SF, so here's a couple of SF bars that serve Linden along with the kind they had last time I was in:

            Barbacco (Common Lager)
            House of Shields (Black Lager)

            If you do by some chance make it back over to Oakland, the new Tribune Tavern is offering cask-conditioned Common Lager and it's outstanding. Right at 12th Street so BART is close too.

            1. re: bbulkow

              The notes in your beer crawl don't make we want to go to any of those places!

              I don't find Linden Street's beers terribly interesting. Their black lager is food-friendly but I wouldn't go out of my way to drink it.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                On the whole, I have to agree about Linden Street's stuff - I quite like their Biere de Tartine (brewed with Tartine's bread yeast), and flat-out love the variation with apricots, but find much of the other stuff somewhat dull. As far as black lagers go, I don't think anyone can touch Moonlight's Death and Taxes.

            2. Not in SF, but just over the Bay Bridge in Oakland - Beer Revolution and its next-door neighbor offshoot, Olde Depot both have a large proportion of their taps (40-something at Rev, 30-something at Depot) devoted to West Coast (usually NorCal) breweries. The atmosphere at Beer Rev can most charitably be described as "dive bar for beer nerds", but if you're contemplating a Toronado stopover, then obviously (lack of) decor won't dissuade you! Olde Depot's only been open a few months, and is much shinier-new as a result. They've also got a vegan kitchen, if that's your thing - it's most certainly not mine, but to each their own.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Spatlese

                I have been to Beer Revolution! I kinda dug the atmosphere, especially after a couple beers ;)

                We came out last year and only really did Berkeley and Oakland, but this time we're trying to stay within SF.

                1. re: PiBerry

                  If you're willing to come to Oakland, Commonwealth has a very locally focused tap list (plus a couple British beers) and a hand pump.

              2. The new tap room at Speakeasy is nice, but it's kind of in the middle of nowhere, and you'd be limited to their brews, which are good, but available elsewhere in the area.