The history of brewing beer in San Francisco dates back to the mid-1800s. The Gold Rush spurred the creation of hundreds of bars to quench the thirst of hard-working gold miners. The infamous earthquake of 1906 laid waste to many of the breweries, and later, prohibition took care of the remaining establishments.
It was the re-emergence of Anchor Brewing in 1965 and Albion in 1975 that put San Francisco back on the brewing map. In 2004, the San Francisco Brewers Guild was formed to educate the public about craft beer, promote the industry within city government and organize events like the popular SF Beer Week.
15 Breweries That Should Be On your Tasting List
1. 21st Amendment Brewery
21st Amendment offers a year-round selection of finely crafted brews like the popular Brew Free of Die IPA, as well as an assortment of seasonal and select brews. Stop by for Happy Hour on Mondays from 2:30 to 5:30, except on game days.
2. Almanac Beer Company
Almanac’s Farm to Barrell brews are flavored with locally sourced fruits, giving each line a unique flavor specific to the region. While not open to the public, Almanac’s brews can be found in establishments from Eureka all the way to San Diego.
3. Anchor Brewery
Anchor prides itself on being America’s first and oldest craft brewery. With 14 carefully crafted brews on the roster, Anchor offers a variety of flavors, including the now-classic Liberty Ale and Anchor Steam Beer.
4. The Beach Chalet
Chilled storage vessels behind the bar house a delightful assortment of brews that are crafted on the premises. Pick your favorite and try pairing it with the VFW Beer Battered Fish and Chips.
5. Cellarmaker Brewing Co.
Take in the laid-back yet contemporary atmosphere at Cellarmaker’s custom-built tasting room, and sip on any sized brew, ranging from a tiny taster sampling to a 64 oz. growler. The selection varies, so schedule your visits around new releases to enjoy a new sipping experience every time.
6. Cerveceria de Mateveza
This brewery offers an intimate cafe-style experience, with brews crafted from locally sourced ingredients. Pair your brew of choice with their popular Argentinian-style empanadas.
7. Fort Point Beer Company
A newcomer to the craft beer scene, Fort Point crafts small batches of brews with traditional influences. Fort Point is not currently open to the public, but is available in a number of San Francisco establishments.
8. Headlands Brewing Company
Headlands Brewing Company is a small operation that views craft beer as a social and cultural experience. Headlands brews adhere to the standards of the traditional styles, but the team adds a twist of their own to create a new experience.
9. Pacific Brewing Company
Pacific Brewing Company’s roots began in a garage. The lab is a one-man show and offers small batches of creatively crafted brews at bi-monthly events that attract hundreds of visitors, as well as some local street vendors.
10. The Rare Barrel
Open only Fridays and Saturdays, The Rare Barrel puts a twist on the traditional brew by diligently incorporating just the right mix of sour, tart and acidic. The sour beer is their favorite style of beer.
11. Social Kitchen and Brewery
Located a few blocks from Golden Gate Park, this neighborhood brewing encourages learning as education and food pairing is all part of the process.
12. Southern Pacific Brewing
An on-site 15-barrel brew system allows Southern Pacific’s brewmaster to create a wide offering of brews that visitors can pair with items from their traditional pub fare menu.
13. Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
The architecture and atmosphere are reminiscent of the prohibition era. Visitors love Speakeasy for the ambience and excellent selection of craft brews.
14. Thirsty Bear Brewery
The Thirsty Bear offers a variety of brews on tap that change on a regular basis. An extensive menu offers more than traditional bar fare, featuring Spanish-inspired tapas and entrees prepared with local and seasonal ingredients.
15. Triple Voodoo
Triple Voodoo is a modern industrial-themed brewery and taproom that offers 16 rotating taps to choose from. The taproom does not cook food in-house, but collaborates with area restaurants to allow patrons to have the menu items of their choice delivered to their tables.
Travel tip: Plan a weekend trip to the city and find San Francisco hotels that match your personality and budget. Take in a baseball game, ride a cable car, or read about several other things to do in San Francisco while you’re in town.