Best Beer Spots in San Francisco

March 3, 2017
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by Zagat Staff

All of the best beer is right here in the heart of San Francisco.

Stones Throw
New American · Russian Hill · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

Right on the Hyde Street cable car line, this "neighborhoody" Russian Hill bistro from vets of Michael Mina and Fat Angel offers a "delightful" (if "limited" ) Cal-American menu accompanied by "hard-to-find" beers and wines; the "cozy-chic" setting is in keeping with the "welcoming" service and "pricey but not-over-the-top" tabs, making it "worth many return trips."
Martins West Gastropub
Gastropub · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

“Creative, complex” cocktails and a “great" beer and scotch selection make this “upscale” Scottish-themed gastropub a “welcome addition” to Redwood City; the menu may be “idiosyncratic” ( “haggis on a stick” , anyone?), but it’s “tasty” , and the “cozy” surrounds and “friendly” service take the sting out of tabs that tilt toward “expensive.”
Starbelly
Californian · The Castro · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

"Creative drinks and rustic comfort food" are on order at this Castro Californian, where the menu includes "delicious pizzas" and "unique beers on tap" , and the "back patio" is perfect for lunch "on a warm day" ; while "friendly" , "service can be forgetful" , but at least it's "well priced for the area."
Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery
Gastropub · Haight-Ashbury · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.0

"Craft beer heaven" is what hopsheads call this Haight-Ashbury hang staffed by bartenders as "knowledgeable" as "cicerones" , where a "magnificent" selection of cask ales and "unique" home brews is presented along with "fancified" seasonal pub grub; "it's always noisy and crowded" , but there's "plenty" of seating both inside and out, making it a natural choice "for a bro brew brunch" or "casual date" ; P.S. the namesake brews are also offered at Smokestack, a BBQ restaurant and taproom offshoot in Dogpatch.
Dirty Water
American · SoMa · $$$
Food 4.1 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.2

With a "glamorous" setting befitting its location in Mid-Market's Twitter building, this American hot spot draws a "young" crowd to its "great bar" , where an enormous selection of beers, wines by the glass and spirits that make for "fabulous cocktails" awaits alongside a mostly "solid" menu of charcuterie, cheeses and "interesting" contemporary plates; it's all conducive to sharing amid the masculine-chic surroundings – think whiskey-hued leather, butcher-block tabletops and high ceilings.
Mikkeller Bar
Bar · Tenderloin · $$
Food 4.0 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.0

“If you’re into craft suds” , check out this Tenderloin “beer mecca” boasting an "exhaustive" selection of the "rarest, weirdest" brews (42 on tap and “even more in bottles” ), all "perfectly poured" by “knowledgeable” barkeeps; “tasty" pub grub (try the sausage sampler), a “big open setting” and a “hip" “after-work” crowd come with the territory.
Elixir
Bar · The Mission · $$

You wouldn’t suspect it from the “rustic” , “Old West saloon” style or the “relatively hip crowd throwing back the drinks” , but bartenders who “know what they are doing” concoct “world-class cocktails” at “Mission-friendly” prices at this “homey place to escape” the neighborhood “chaos” ; regulars recommend the “make-your-own Bloody Mary bar” as a “perfect way to start a Sunday.”
The Beer Hall
Bar · Civic Center · $

Just off Market Street, this Civic Center bar/takeaway shop specializes in craft beer and wine, including many rare finds and cult favorites; the creatively outfitted space is decorated with a bottle cap–covered wall and has bench and table seating, plus plenty of taps.