The City by the Bay hosts a world class business district, opera, and various ethnic neighborhoods that date back 150-plus years.
Piers, wharves, and the coastline all intersect under the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge. Over the past few years, San Francisco has added a slew of brewpubs to its array of 4,000 restaurants of various cuisines.
Crafters have begun to engineer a San Francisco taste to their beers that seems to mix the salty ocean breeze, chilly fog, and sourdough bread San Francisco is known for.
Check out my list of the best breweries in San Francisco.
544 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Just a couple blocks north of the famed San Francisco Flower Market is the quintessential local brew pub inside a lofty SoMa (South of Market Street) warehouse space.
The beers are seemingly forged from steel, anvil, and fire. I recommend going on a Wednesday night if you’re in town to partake in their weekly “Drunk Trivia” contests.
They also take politics seriously here. In just the past few weeks they have come out with a “Puck Futin Anti-Imperial Ukranian Stout” that includes notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and beets. The alcohol content is a little higher (8.2%), but the gluten is removed.
69 Bluxome St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Almost hidden among the skyscrapers of the downtown business district, and that famous San Francisco skyline, lies Local Brewing Company.
It’s as much a concept of science and innovation as it is a brewery. It’s also a place where patrons can make suggestions about the brews, and the makers will listen.
Among the dozen rotating IPAs, double IPAs, and pilsners, I like to choose the Bluxome Black Lager. It won the gold medal at the 2015 California State Fair.
This dark beer’s toasty froth is surprisingly light on the palate. And at only 5% alcohol content, you can have a couple without worrying about getting home.
The menu is ever changing. But be assured, chef Nas Maldonado will prepare you a feast that takes the beers into consideration. These include a line of pizzettas and sandwiches.
563 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Situated close to Oracle Park, the beautiful bayside home of the San Francisco Giants, is this brew pub named after the landmark legislation that ended prohibition in the 1930s.
They have created a series of IPAs under the “Brew Free! or Die” label. You can get them on tap or in a can.
My favorite is the Blood Orange IPA. It adds, you guessed it, blood orange puree and citrus-tinged hops to the malt and barley.
Obviously, it’s a bit on the sweeter side. But the finish is smooth. You’ll find standard pub grub to go alongside the beers.
Try the totchos, nachos made with tater tots instead of chips. It comes with cheese, bacon, pico de gallo, cilantro, and sour cream.
Then finish it off with a bowl of house-made Louisiana Gumbo. It’s made fresh daily, with local seafood.
1150 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Southeast of the Opera Plaza, where international stars perform world-class opera on a grand scale, is Cellarmaker Brewing Co.
This is one brewery that likes it small. They promote making small batches of brew, almost one beer at a time.
I can’t get enough of Syrah. It’s a combination of the red wine from a Central California coastal vineyard (think the movie “Sideways”) and mix it with heavy hops and barley. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind concoction that goes well with any meat dish or chocolate dessert.
1439 Egbert Ave unit a/b, San Francisco, CA 94124
They may not take themselves seriously, but they sure do take their beers seriously at Laughing Monk. Here they have tried to combine two vastly different styles of beer – the fuitiness of California tastebuds with the smoothness of Belgian malts – to create their unique flavors.
The best example of this, in my opinion, is the Third Circle Tripel. It’s more on the Belgian side, but without any of the heaviness you might expect of a European lager. If you like bolder taste while still keeping your tummy relatively empty, then this is one to try.
Because of the pandemic, Laughing Monk is not open for dining or drinking in. Call ahead and order a six-pack of your choice. Then pick it up or have it delivered.
1195 Evans Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124
Cable cars are one of San Francisco’s most famous moving landmarks. And the city has built an interactive museum dedicated to the open air trolleys.
After learning how they keep the cables running, head southeast to the Hunter’s Point section of town for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers.
It’s a major part of that neighborhood’s renaissance. The whole vibe of this place is like a film noir set from the 1940s. Even the bottle labels have the same look and feel.
I’m partial to the Big Daddy IPA, with the guy in a double-breasted zoot suit on the label. They’ve been serving this heavy hoppy ale, their self-described signature brew, here since 1999.
1705 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Here’s the place that started it all. For nearly a century, Anchor Steam was THE quintessential San Francisco beer.
It was first brewed in 1896, 10 years before the great San Francisco earthquake and fire. You just know citizens needed some after that awful day in local history.
Over the years, they’ve added nine new beers to the original. And they’re tasty, to be sure. (Especially the coffee porter.)
But if you’re going to the Anchor Brewery and take the tour, then you should taste the original. More than 125 years later, they must be doing something right.
1525 Cortland Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110
Another park that locals love is John McLaren Park, where bands can be seen playing in the Jerry Garcia amphitheater – named for the famed Grateful Dead guitarist.
North east of the park is this taproom, where the psychedelic funk can be found on the artistic ber cans.
Based on the cans alone, you must try the Passion Icon, a fruited sour ale, the Tsunami Swell, a West Coast IPA, and the Kinetic Kush, a hazy IPA.
The cans are works of art. The tastes are also artistic, as they combine several types of hops, barleys, and malts to create unique flavor profiles.
1050 26th St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Part of the new Chase Center complex, where Steph Curry and the three-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors play, is this fun brewery that caters to hops fans and hoops fans alike.
For something a little different, I enjoy the Yeast of Burton. It’s an ode to jolly old England with Burton yeast and a bready, caramel flavor.
No reason to go across the pond for this English-style concoction. Still, it’s relatively light in alcohol content (4.5%) so you can free-throw a few back. That’s especially true when the “Dubs” claim another victory.
1398 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Golden Gate Park gets most of the attention in San Francisco, but Buena Vista Park is the city’s oldest. It was developed in 1867 and locals still enjoy its walking trails and views of the city and bay.
If you get hungry and thirsty after a few hours at Beuna Vista Park, head straight up Masonic a block and a half to the corner of Haight Street and you’ll find this taproom.
It opened more than two decades ago in a 1903 Victorian that once served as a cornerstone of the famed Haight-Ashbury neighborhood during the 1960s hippie movement.
They have since made more than 3,000 batches of homemade craft beer. It woudn’t be a “trip” here without a growler of Hashbury Hazy IPA.
Expect to taste coconut, citrus, and yes, a bit of cannabis. Plus, I like to sop up the suds with a cheese plate and a sausage plate.
Both come with plenty of drilled levain bread, then add brie, bratwurst, sauerkraut, and other hearty flavors for dipping.
495 De Haro St, San Francisco, CA 94107
If you want to try the array of Anchor brews without the tour, then head to its public taproom. This Portrero Hill mainstay offers all 10 of the Anchor brews, plus a rotation of food trucks to satisfy any palate in a relaxed atmosphere.
This is the place to try the Dry-Hopped Anchor Steam. They have taken the famous beer and given it a twist by blendinig the original with new hops.
The result is a combination of Anchor Steam’s traditional maltiness and the fragrant hoppiness of local ale. Yum.
644 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94129
Just walking distance from the West Coast’s oldest military establishment, Fort Point Beer Company is named for the garrison that sits beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.
Here, they brew, package and ship off their beers to hundreds of restaurants and bars throughout San Francisco and other Nothern California cities.
Fort Point Beer Company is not open to the public. But they do have two taprooms within San Francisco.
One is located on Valencia Street and the other in the famous Ferry Building at Pier 1. They specialize in four types of pale ale, with the “San Francisco-style” Villager a fan favorite.
1000a 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94158
Any trip to San Francico is incomplete without stopping by Mission de San Francisco de Assisi, better known locally as Mission Delores.
It’s the oldest building in the city, dating back to the 1770s and surviving the infamous 1906 earthquake.
Catholic priest Junipero Serra and his followers spent almost 60 years building missions and indoctrinating local natives up the California coast.
From San Diego to Solano, they built 21 missions at the same time the 13 original colonies declared independence from England.
After this must-see historical attraction, head due east toward the bay and you’ll find New Belgium Brewery and its crafter Ramon Tamayo.
He has created an extensive list of traditional and avant garde beers to choose from. My favorite is the Czech Swing (I love a pun), a pale lager that combines admiral pils, Saaz hops and Budvar Czech yeast.
1000 Great Hwy, San Francisco, CA 94121
Golden Gate Park is the country’s biggest urban open space (it’s almost 200 acres bigger than Central Park in New York).
Over the past few years, the parks department has opened up GGP to a series of local vendors, including those who run Park Chalet.
It’s an indoor-outdoor venue that serves house beers as well as upscale food. And when you’re finished, you can easily walk to Ocean Beach to catch some cool waves.
The Seal Rock Black Lager is not to be missed here. It’s a dark beer with a surprisingly light feel. You should taste a hint of caramel and a velvety roast. Stop by on Taco Tuesdays and down Seal Rock with at least two blackened fish tacos.
100 Hooper St Ste. 4, San Francisco, CA 94107
Straight east of the Chase Center, north of the University of California Medical Center, and half a block from the California College of the Arts is this combo craft beer and whiskey locale that caters to sports fans, medical personnel, and budding artists.
Here they have condensed their beer offerings to the standard craft fare – India Pale Ale, Czech-style Pilsner, Cologne-style Kolsch, and an Apricot Wheat.
OK, the last one is a bit on the wild side, but its finish is so fruity and smooth you’ll be tempted to quench your thirst long after your thirst if quenched (if you know what I mean).
San Francisco is an international gateway that’s always trying to stay on the forefront. That now includes its growing array of craft breweries.
In S.F. you can find Mexican, English, German, Czech, Belgian, and other international-style beers – and the food to go along with them.
You can also find a host of West Coast-style ales that let your tastebuds know you’re in a certified California city. Enjoy!
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment and we’ll check it out!
- Black Hammer Brewing
- Local Brewing Co.
- 21st Amendment Brewery & Restaurant
- Cellarmaker Brewing Co.
- Laughing Monk Brewing
- Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
- Anchor Brewing Company
- Barebottle Brewing Company
- Harmonic Brewing
- Magnolia Brewing – Haight
- Anchor Public Taps
- Fort Point Beer Company Production Brewery
- New Belgium Brewing Taproom & Restaurant
- Park Chalet
- The Seven Stills Brewery & Distillery
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