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SF Microbrews


thursdaynext
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I've been reading/posting to various threads picking up info for a July trip to SF. Several microbreweries have come up & I would appreciate any thoughts on these or any others folks think are worth a stop:

Anchor Steam Brewery

Gordon Biersch Microbrewery

Thirsty Bear Brewery

San Francisco Brewing Co.

Thanks!

"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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We (my beerdrinking soul mate & I) recently spent 4 nights in San Francisco. The Anchor tour is a good one but you must call in advance (Anchor Brewing Company tour info). Thirsty Bear and San Francisco Brewing are brewpubs and worth at least a stop by for a beer or few. We did not go to Gordon Biersch. Our favorite brewpub of the trip in the city area was Magnolia Pub & Brewery. We spent Sunday brunch there and enjoyed the beers. And, not far from Magnolia is a SF beer institution, The Toronado. It's a bit scruffy and the beertenders aren't always the most entertaining but the beer selection is superb.

We learned it was also possible to take a ferry over Marin Brewing Company. We ran out of time or we would certainly have made that trek.

We took a tour of some outlying brewpubs and one brewery during one of our days. If you have time, a trip to Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa would be well worth the time as well as Moylan's in Novato.

Enjoy the trip. We can't wait to get back there!

Edited by beergirl (log)

"There's a whole lotta things I ain't never done, but I ain't never had too much fun" Commander Cody

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Naturally, all just my personal opinion:

The tour at Anchor Brewery is a blast, but be sure to reserve well in advance, as it fills up quickly. They've just come out with this year's Summer Beer (a wheat beer), but I haven't had a chance to taste it yet. Their Anchor Steam is a classic, and I'm fond of the Porter as well.

I am as unimpressed with the food and restaurant at Gordon Biersch as I am with their off-tasting beer. Basically a yuppie meatmarket. I'd give it a miss.

Thirsty Bear started off as a class act with innovative, top-quality beers and some interesting tapas in the restaurant, but both have declined and now the management seem content to be just another after work hangout for financial district workers.

On the other hand, I'm quite fond of both the beers and the atmosphere at San Francisco Brewing Co. Their Albatross Lager and Gripman's Porter are both quite good brews.

Cheers, and enjoy your visit!

Squeat

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Thanks to both of you for the info- I printed out the tour sheet & will definitely give the Anchor Steam folks a call next month! Several of the suggestions look good & I'll be sure to post my reviews when I get back. (after recovery, that is) :raz:

"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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I'll add my two cents for Magnolia. They do a pretty wide range of beers, including a few real ales, and have some pretty magnificent pub grub. Do NOT miss this place.

And Anchor is a given, if you can get on the tour. Aside from getting a real soup-to-nuts walk-through of the brewing/bottling facility, you'll get a substantial tasting of every brew currently tapped. Long live Fritz Maytag!

Christopher

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I too would give Gordon Biersch a pass, and I'll trust Squeat's opinion on Thirsty Bear. I haven't been there in years -- it's sad that they've gone downhill, because they used to be great.

And even though it's not a brewpub, I'll put in a vote for Toronado -- yes, it's a bit seedy and yes, the bartenders tend to be surly, but you won't find a better selection of both local and international beers for better prices (every day until 6 it's "happy hour" when all beers are a dollar off). Plus, if you get there at lunch time (or any time, for that matter), you can run next door to Rosamunde's Sausage Grill and get a really good, cooked to order sausage for under $5, take it back to the bar and have a wonderful lunch for around $8. It's on Haight St. at Fillmore.

If the weather is good, the ferry ride to Larkspur is beautiful, and you end up at Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur Landing, which is definitely worth visiting.

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If the weather is good, the ferry ride to Larkspur is beautiful, and you end up at Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur Landing, which is definitely worth visiting.

I took a look at their website & they were really promoting their pizza, etc. Any good?

Long live Fritz Maytag!

Love the beer, and the bleu :biggrin:

"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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Another vote for Toronado for the beer-lover. Great selection, including some hard-to-find lambics.

For some reason I was thinking that I had heard that Rosemunde had closed, but then I remembered that they discontinued their seriously good burger toward the end of last year, so that must be what I was thinking of. Their sausages are seriously good as well, but I miss the burger.

It's been a long time since I've been to Marin Brewing Company, but I seem to recall the food being okay. Not great, but okay. That may have changed, though.

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The 21st Amendment , 563 Second Street (just north of the ballpark). The space is a rehabbed garage/warehouse space, very nice ambiance, excellent beer.

I agree with Beergirl about The Magnolia -- some terrific beers, and the hippie-ish waitstaff are fun. Last time I had their Scotch Ale, very tasty.

The San Francisco Brewing Co. has an excellent happy hour: 4-6pm and midnight-1am, $1.75 pints.

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." Mark Twain
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I forgot about the 21st Amendment -- I've only had the burger there, but it was really good. And the beers were good -- not the best in the city, but worth checking out.

As for Marin Brewing, I think we just had fish and chips or some other fried "bar food," so I can't provide any meaningful info on the food, except that they can fry. The beers were great, though.

(Slightly OT: Squeat, did you know that Memphis Minnies now serves burgers? I haven't tried them, but at the very least, the folks at Minnies know their meat, so they probably do a good job. But I never made it to Rosamunde's for burger day, so I don't have that memory to color my judgment.)

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(Slightly OT: Squeat, did you know that Memphis Minnies now serves burgers? I haven't tried them, but at the very least, the folks at Minnies know their meat, so they probably do a good job. But I never made it to Rosamunde's for burger day, so I don't have that memory to color my judgment.)

Janet, I did hear that Minnies has burgers now, but I haven't tried them yet either. You're right, though: those folks do know from meat!

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My favorite brewery has already been mentioned: SF Microbrewery...

Sorry to hear if Thirsty Bear has declined somewhat; haven't been there in ~ year or so.

Can say that I'm not impressed with Gordon Biersch. A few weeks ago I took out of town visitors there--mainly for the nice view of the Bay Bridge but I truly was disappointed with the beer. Had an off taste. While I always liked SF Brewing Co. (for instance) better, I did not recall the beer being that bad at G.B.

Another option not mentioned yet is the Beach Chalet out on Ocean Beach.

Beach Chalet

It is a touristy place and I would definately pass on the food as a reason to go there (to me, expensive and not very good)---but on a beautiful day it has spectacular views of Ocean Beach and the Pacific and is a nice place to have a beer. It's also in a historical building with Depression Era murals in the bottom level. Nice location to precede or follow with a walk in Golden Gate Park or a walk on the beach.

It can be a madhouse on the weekends--better if you can go during the week and at a slightly off time--mid afternoon. It's a nice place to view the sunset--but again very crowded on the weekend.

The beers seemd good to me but I don't have strong memories of them.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I tried Magnolia last week for the first time in ages, and while the beers and food were good, I have to say that the service was mediocre at best. We sat at the bar and practically had to pry the phone from the bartender's hand to get any service at all. Nothing like watching your food cool down while the server catches up on her social life.

Afterward, though, we walked up the street to Aub Zam Zam, and had some excellent martinis and chatted with the new owner, so the day was not a total waste.

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  • 1 year later...

For any of you beer fanciers in the Bay Area, Toronado will be hosting Dogfish Head on June 22. They will have their Immort, 120 Minute IPA, Raison D'Etre and 90 Minute IPA on tap for the night. It is also my understanding Sam Calagione, the company president, will be on hand overseeing the event.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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