Monthly Archives: May 2015

Barfly’s View: City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA

I spent the last week in the glorious city o’ San Francisco, and I drank enough great beer to pickle an aging Irishman, which is to say much quality brew was consumed. 

San Francisco is one of the best beer cities in the world, due in no small part to its focus on craft everything and an array of top-notch beer bars. I’m flying home as I write this, and I already miss the city and its beer. One of my favorite beer spots in SF is City Beer Store in the SoMa (South of Market St.) neighborhood, an unassuming, friendly and inspired combination bar and bottle shop. 

The space is half retail shop and half bar, and it’s split accordingly, with a number of jam-packed shelves and a cooler to the far left when you enter, and the bar area and a few small tables to the center and right of the entrance. 

Unless it’s very busy, a friendly clerk usually greets you as you walk in. You can stop by, grab a few bottles and be on your way. Or you can sit and drink a few pints, shop around the retail space while sipping your suds or even open any of the bottles they sell and then drink them there–though they do charge a “corking fee” of up to $3 for bottles you bring over from the retail side to drink in the bar. 

Behind the bar is a two-door cooler with vintage bottles, and City Beer always has an impressive lineup of aged selections. During my most recent visit, they had multiple Cantillon bottles, early vintage Russian Rivers (some in 750ml bottles, which they haven’t offered for years) a few different Bourbon County Stout variants, rare Cascade and Bruery releases and much more. The vintage bottles are a bit overpriced, but the drafts were reasonable, with most ranging between $6 and $10, depending on the beer and size of pour. 

City Beer also serves many local SF and California beers, so it’s a good place to try out the local beer terroir. Unfortunately, City Beer doesn’t have a kitchen, so it’s not a great place to grub, though you can buy some snacks, such as crackers, popcorn and jerky. 

The vibe at City Beer is welcoming, and the bartenders are mostly friendly and willing to answer any questions patrons have. It’s a great place to learn about the local craft beer scene, because the staff is both knowledgable and willing to converse with curious beer nerds.

City Beer Store is also one of the few places I know of in San Francisco where you can consistently find bottles of Pliny the Elder to go. I always ship beer back home to Boston when I visit San Francisco, and the bulk of it comes from City Beer. (Note: If it’s Pliny bottles you seek, be prepared to visit on a Wednesday in the early afternoon. That’s when their weekly shipments arrive, and the bottles go very quickly. Also, call first to make sure they have some. Unfortunately, they won’t hold bottles for you…at least they won’t for me, but maybe you’re cooler and/or betterlooking, and people just do nice things for you. If so, fuck you.)

If you’re in San Francisco, and you’re looking for a laid back spot to enjoy a local or rare beer, you’ll appreciate City Beer Store, which is located at 1168 Folsom St. You can learn more on the City Beer Store website.


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Scenes from Allagash’s Wild Friendship Celebration with Cantillon, Russian River

AllagashWildFrienshipCelebrationYesterday, Allagash Brewing Co. held its Wild Friendship Celebration, with Brasserie Cantillon and Russian River Brewing Co., at the Allagash brewery in Portland, Maine. Allagash did an absolutely amazing job of arranging and organizing the event, which had a casual, festival-like feel, as beer nerds and brewers drank world-class brews and milled about Allagash’s tasting room, brewery, wild barrel room and a large tent outside.

For background, the Wild Friendship Celebration was a series of events to celebration and share a collaboration lambic, a blend of beers from all three brewing companies.  The three brewers contributed versions of their own spontaneously fermented beers, and two versions were made, one blended in Belgium by Cantillon’s head brewer Jean-Pierre Van Roy, and another blended by Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo and Allagash’s Rob Tod in Portland. The first event (called Quintessense) was held in Brussels last May at Cantillon’s location, the second took place last week at Russian River’s Santa Rosa, Calif., brew pub, and finally, Allagash held its event yesterday.

In addition to both versions of the Wild Friendship Blend, the three breweries shared a number of additional beers. (Hit this link for the full beer list.) And the brewers were on hand to chat with beer enthusiasts. I spoke with Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo and his wife Natalie, and they both got a kick out of this Boston boy’s knowledge of where to find their beers all around San Francisco, where I frequently work–and drink. I also chatted with Cantillon’s Jean-Pierre Van Roy, who was treated like some sort of Sour Beer God by many of the folks in attendance.

Here’s a first hand, beer nerd’s view of the Allagash/Cantillon/Russian River Wild Friendship Celebration day session. Click one of the photos below to open up a carousel of larger pics. (The image quality isn’t great in all of the photos. Blame my Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, which I used to capture the images.)


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Beer list for Allagash’s Wild Friendship Celebration with Cantillon, Russian River


I haven’t posted to this blog for more than a year (because I’m a lazy, drunk, busy asshole), and I’ve been waiting for the appropriate post to make my triumphant return to the blogosphere o’ beer. As soon as I received the latest update from Allagash regarding its May 9, 2015, Wild Friendship Celebration with Cantillon and Russian River, I knew the time to bless you all with a post had come. OK, nobody reads this blog anymore — again I haven’t posted for a fucking year — but still, this information is worth a post.

Here’s what Allagash, Cantillon and Russian River will be pouring, and yours truly will be excitedly drinking (from the commemorative Wild Friendship chalice), this coming Saturday in Portland, ME:

BANG. BONG. BOOM. That there, ladies and gentlemales, is one hell of a beer-lover’s lineup. I plan to post lots of images and details from the event, so stay tuned.


Image via BeerStreetJournal

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