7 of the Best Breweries in San Francisco
Beer guzzling enthusiasts should not miss out on these 7 amazing craft beer brewhouses in San Francisco.
Beer guzzling enthusiasts should not miss out on these seven amazing craft beer brewhouses in San Francisco. What differentiates craft beer from the mass-produced kind is the usage of natural and high-quality ingredients with either time-honored or creative techniques. This makes the taste refreshingly unique and more enjoyable.
San Francisco has a long history of drinking beer, since it quenched the thirst of gold miners during the 1800s. For a brief period, this culture of brewing was put on hold during the Prohibition Era (1920-1933), when the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal in the United States. During this period, clubs, pubs, and other drinking establishments were forced underground and given the name “speakeasies”. Thankfully, this act was repealed under the 21st Amendment and the culture of and tradition of brewing fine beers sprang up once again in San Francisco.
Today, craft beers found in the city by the bay are so popular that there are even beer-tasting walking tours and an SF Beer Week, which takes place in January at famous beer locations throughout the Bay Area. With this guide, though, you’ll be able to create your very own craft brewery tour. Have fun drinking up San Francisco!
Anchor Steam Brewery
It doesn’t get more classically San Francisco than Anchor Steam beer. It is San Francisco’s oldest brewery, having been founded during the California Gold Rush by the German brewer Gottlieb Brekle. It too was shut down during the Prohibition Era and re-established some decades later, continuing their tradition of using the same techniques as when they were first established. They even use the same tools, such as a mash tun, lauter tun, grant, and brewkettle.
Like any good craft beer, Anchor Steam’s beverages are handmade with an all-malt mash in their traditional copper brewhouse. It should be noted that there’s no rice, corn, or processed pellets in their beers. They only use the best natural ingredients such as pale, caramel, and dark and wheat malts. In addition, all of their beers and ales are carbonated by a natural carbon dioxide that develops during a slow, gradual, and ancient process called “Kräusening”.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history and techniques that go into their brewing techniques, Anchor Steam offers two guided tours with tasting sessions on weekdays. They last for roughly 1.5 hours.
For more info on tour times and prices, take a look at the website: www.anchorbrewing.com/
Speakeasy Ales and Lager
Ready to drink some tasty brews? Founded in 1997, Speakeasy Ales and Lager named itself after the drinking establishments that were forced underground during the Prohibition Era. It is a 60-barrel brewhouse that produces 90,000 barrels a year. The brewhouse boasts San Francisco’s best-selling IPA (a definite must-try) called the Big Daddy IPA. It’s a full-balanced body beer with a crisp finish and low bitterness. Make sure you also taste their well-known Session 47 Series, characterized by its citrus and tropical notes. Happy hour is on Friday from 4:00pm to 8:00pm and pints are only $2.50, such a great deal!
If you’re curious about their brewing and packaging process, Speakeasy offers brewery tours. They are kept small at just 10 people to allow for a more personal experience. So it’s advisable to book in advance. Throughout the tour, tastings are offered. Tours are held on Saturdays only and last between 20 to 30 minutes each.
For more information about the Speakeasy brewhouse and their tours, check out their website at: www.goodbeer.com/
Make sure this is one of your first stops in San Francisco. With eight rotating taps, 21st Amendment has won numerous awards including “Best Brewpub”, “Best Burger”, and “Best Happy Hour” by various San Francisco media networks. In honor of the law that repealed Prohibition and allowed the culture of great breweries to be celebrated once again, the brewhouse named itself 21st Amendment. They brew both year-round and seasonal beers such as Brew Free! Or Die IPA, Fireside Chat, Marooned on Hog Island, and the all-time favorite, Hell or High Watermelon.
You can find their beers throughout restaurants and stores in the Bay Area, but they also have a full-service pub and restaurant that is open everyday in the SOMA district, just two blocks from AT&T Park, making it a great place to go after a San Francisco Giants game (although be warned, it gets pretty packed so you might want to make a reservation). They also have a location in San Leandro.
To learn more about 21st Amendment beers and their locations, take a peek at the website: 21st-amendment.com/
The Beach Chalet
The Beach Chalet is a restaurant and brewery located in a historic building that was once a social club and barracks during WWII. Downstairs, it’s decorated with mosaics and large murals funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s. These murals depict life in San Francisco during the Depression Era. Upstairs, you’ll find a full dining restaurant and there’s also a small brewery on site. All eight of their seasonal and special beers are made from the finest malts and hops from around the world, using glacial Hetch hetchy water (a local source). During happy hour, beers are $6 and come in huge glasses. Located at Ocean Beach, the dining area opens up to a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Who doesn’t love beer, food, and beach views? It’s definitely recommended to go during sunset.
Take a look at the Beach Chalet's awesome menu at: www.beachchalet.com/
Cellarmaker Brewing Company
Mastermind is the word that comes to mind when describing Cellarmaker Brewing Company. You’ll definitely keep your taste buds entertained with these experimental mixtures of different hops, grains, barrels, and yeasts. At their taste room you can sample their juicy and aromatic beers on tap, which range in options from hop-driven, dark and roasty, or Belgian-inspired. You can also find growlers, or large cans that are sealed on-site, at their establishment. They do not bottle their beer, so you have to visit their SoMa location in order to try their brews such as Tangarang, Coffee and Cigarettes, Tiny Dankster, and Original Dankster. Every time you go there, expect something new, fresh, and unique. They offer 5oz tastes, half pints, pints, and growlers. The taproom is pretty small, so expect crowds on the weekends. There’s really no better way than to spend an afternoon here.
There’s no food at their tasting room, but you’re free to either bring your own food or place in order with nearby restaurants.
If you’re looking for more information, then be sure to browse their website: www.cellarmakerbrewing.com/
Cerveceria de Mateveza
Locals swear by this brewery. The original location of Woods Beer, Cerveceria de Mateveza is an Argentine-inspired little hole-in-the-wall establishment located near Dolores Park in San Francisco’s famous Mission District. The brewhouse first gained recognition for their very original MateVeza craft brew, an IPA made with the tea, yerba mate. All of their beers are just as rare, unique, and experimental. Beer options on tap include serving flavors such as local honey, eucalyptus, and hibiscus. While there, make sure to munch on their empanadas, especially the mushroom one! They’re delicious. Great spot, delicious beers, and cool vibes. You can even order a growler and take it to Dolores Park. What more could a beer lover want?
Woods Beer has two other tap room locations at Polk Street in San Francisco and Telegraph St. in Oakland.
Want to learn more about cerveceria de Mateveza and Woods Beer? Then take a look at their website: http://www.woodsbeer.com/
Located in the historic Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco, Triple Voodoo specializes in combining Belgian and West Coast styles of brewing that’ll get your taste buds hopping. Their brewhouse features 16 rotating taps of craft beers, so flights are suggested in order to get to sample as many options as possible. The Brewhemian Raspberry Tart Wheat, Strength in Numbers, and Inception come highly recommended. They also offer growler fills. Feeling super hungry? They offer snacks but if that’s not enough to kill your appetite, you’re more than welcome to place an order with local restaurants at the bartop through their friendly staff. They’re also dog-friendly so feel free to bring your four-legged friend!
Tours are available at Triple Voodoo Brewery and include four taster flights of your choice at the end. They are normally conducted on Thursdays and Saturdays for 20 minutes. You won’t want to miss out, so be sure to book your tours well in advance. They fill up quick!
If you’re looking for more information, it’s best to check out their website at: https://www.triplevoodoo.com/
Beer. Beer. Beer. Get in touch with your inner beer geek by getting to know the San Francisco beer community at these seven mouth-tingling craft breweries. With such a strong history and tradition of brewing craft beers, there’s really no better way for both locals and travelers alike to get to know SF than on your very own brewery crawl. Beer enthusiasts will be delighted with all the options from tasting rooms to tours, and hoppy beers to robust IPA. If you’re there in late January, you will definitely want to check out SF Beer Week, which holds events at a number of great locations throughout the SF Bay Area, including San Leandro and Berkeley.
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