Visit These San Francisco Restaurants That Brew Their Own Beer
San Francisco has a vibrant craft beer scene and is internationally known for its quality restaurants, so it’s only natural that the two would eventually commingle. Explore these local restaurants that brew their own beer (you know the beer will be fresh), and get ready for some special holiday releases you’ll want to seek out.
21st Amendment Brewery & Cafe (563 Second St., 415-369-0900)
21st Amendment Brewery & Cafe, a SOMA brewpub, is a favorite for folks heading to the ballpark and nearby workers who like to end the day with a beer and some wings. Many dishes cross over with the beers, like their Reuben, which features housemade corned beef braised in their IPA; onion hoops made with the Brew Free! or Die IPA beer batter; or the Brew Free! chili. Wintertime means it’s time for the Fireside Chat, a rich, dark, English-style ale with festive spices. www.21st-amendment.com
Barrel Head Brewhouse (1785 Fulton St. 415-416-6989)
Students attending the University of San Francisco are well acquainted with this brewpub (and its brunch). The menu features hearty favorites, from poutine to a pork chop, and some barbecue too, like house-smoked brisket (seasonal soups and salads lighten things up). As for the house brews, there’s a range across the spectrum, from a pilsner to IPA to pale to brown ale. They will release a couple holiday beers: one is a Belgian-style pale ale brewed with organic roasted pumpkins called Pumpkin in a Pear Tree which will come out around Thanksgiving. Around Christmas, they will release a big Imperial Stout called "BESURETODRINKYOUROVALTINE." They also have a generous array of 30 rotating microbrews on their torpedo tap and a list of rare bottles. Check out their brewtails, too.
Bartlett Hall (242 O'Farrell St., 415-433-4332)
Bartlett Hall, a Union Square gastropub, has a spacious bar and lounge and plenty of tables for those who want to sit away from the TV screens. Tuck into some mac and cheese or meatballs, but this spot also keeps things San Franciscan with a kale salad on the menu. Their in-house beer selection is primarily West Coast in style, with some German styles and other one-offs. The beers are meant to be approachable and pleasing, from the Bartlett Blonde to the Flower Shop IPA (three in all). You’ll find some guest beers too, with plenty of San Francisco representation. www.bartletthall.com
Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant (1000 Great Hwy., 415-386-8439)
The Beach Chalet has one of the best locations in the city, right off Ocean Beach, so you can’t beat the view. The American bistro menu includes a lot of seafood (thankfully it’s sustainable), plus burgers, sandwiches, salads, and plenty of snacks and sides, so it’s easy to come by for just a beer and a bite. The house brews, eight in all, have some fun oceanic references, like the Riptide Red and High Tide Hefeweizen. You can get into a winter frame of mind with their Fog Town Brown, a brown ale with hints of maple syrup, and they also release a Pumpkin Ale for the holidays too.
Magnolia Pub & Brewery (1398 Haight St., 415-864-7468)
Since 1997, local brewer Dave McLean was known for his basement brews at this Upper Haight mainstay, and fortunately was able to move his brewing operation to an enormous space in the Dogpatch. But a special part of the menu is about the cask ales here, with rare releases making appearances. The gastropub menu is seasonally driven, with quality ingredients that are definitely a tick above your usual pub grub—especially the burger and housemade sausages. Their annual holiday beer is the Magnolia Winter Warmer, an 8% ABV, rich, malt-forward English strong ale that they have been making since 1998—they release it every year on the day before Thanksgiving.
Social Kitchen & Brewery (1326 Ninth Ave., 415-681-0330)
The Inner Sunset has this easygoing neighborhood hangout, which is handily close to Golden Gate Park. Brunch and dinner are served, with a menu that is definitely on the comfort food side of things. You’ll be in your beer happy place with 18 handles to explore, with some local beers featured, too. For the holidays, there’s a new stout called Fake Tuxedo (a nicely warming 7.1% ABV that is full bodied, with a nice, nutty caramel accent) and coming up is Two Pains, a stronger version of their Pain Au Chocolat, a Belgian Quadrupel with cocoa nibs, clocking in at 9.3% ABV.
Southern Pacific Brewing (620 Treat Ave., 415-341-0152)
This popular spot in the Mission Creek Area boasts a big patio and spacious indoor area, with quite a lineup of true-to-style beers to match, from Kölsch to extra pale ale to a porter. They are also known for hosting guest beers on their taps and usually carry some seasonal offerings for the holidays from other brewers. Lunch and dinner are served, with many kinds of salads, sandwiches and burgers (and housemade bacon!).
Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company (1735 Noriega St., 415-571-8452)
This newer addition to the Outer Sunset is very family friendly, with an all-day menu designed to please, from vegetarians to the most committed carnivore. To fully explore their house-brewed beers, order the tasting flight, which has six tastes, including an ESB, sour wheat, and dry Irish stout. For the holidays, you’ll also be able to try their Autumn Beer pumpkin ale, which has the same spice blend as the pumpkin pie at the owner’s bakeshop, Devil’s Teeth Baking Company. There will also be a Russian Imperial Stout coming, made with chocolate and coffee, and clocking in at 11% ABV.
ThirstyBear Brewing Company (661 Howard St., 415-974-0905)
ThirstyBear has been holding things down in SOMA since 1996, and is not only San Francisco's oldest brewery-restaurant, it’s also the city’s first and only CCOF-certified organic brewery. No pub grub here—it has a decidedly Spanish accent, with a menu of seasonal tapas and paellas, and a commitment to sustainable ingredients. The beer program is primarily focused on session beers, but also includes cask-conditioned ales, and plenty of hoppy options for the hopheads. They release their vintage aged Barleywine (10% ABV) every year the day after Thanksgiving, starting with a 2012 brew this year. During Christmas, they will release their Winter Warmer, a strong, dark ale (10.6% ABV), brewed with nutmeg, cloves, and all spice. www.thirstybear.com
Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, tablehopper, about the San Francisco dining and drinking scene, get all the latest news at www.tablehopper.com. Follow @tablehopper on Twitter and Instagram for more San Francisco finds.
Photo via Southern Pacific Brewing