With the proliferation of local beer bars, gastropubs, and grassroots brewing operations, it's easy to forget how much our beery landscape has changed in five short years. There was no SF Beer Week. People didn't line up at the crack of dawn to attend beer releases. Most folks weren't well acquainted with high-end barrel-aged beers or sour ales. And, perhaps most importantly, City Beer Store hadn't opened.
Before 2006, S.F. already had great local breweries such as Magnolia, 21st Amendment, and Speakeasy. Toronado had long been a mecca for beer geeks around the country and beyond. Our access to the world of bottled beer, however, was touch and go. Even if you ventured to the BevMo at the edge of town, you'd be lucky to find bottles from even the larger craft brewing operations.
Enter SOMA's unassuming City Beer Store, an inviting spot with employees eager to teach about craft beer. After pioneering a tasting bar/bottle shop hybrid license, married craft beer evangelists Beth and Craig Wathen worked tirelessly to build relationships with breweries and distributors.
Fast forward to today, and Bay Area beer geeks are spoiled for choice. City Beer Store is still breaking down barriers ― literally. The store is prepped to demolish a wall and colonize the neighboring commercial space, and it just celebrated its anniversary with a party at the studios of nearby BAMM.tv. The celebration sold out in a matter of hours, and boasted live music, food from Slow Hand BBQ and El Tonayense, and a selection of beer created especially for the occasion (with some available in small bottled quantities leading up to the party).
Given how much has changed in the last five years, we're excited to see what develops in the next five ― maybe we'll all ride hoverboards to City Beer Store's 10th anniversary party. As long as we aren't all drinking dehydrated astronaut beer by then, we're game.
A rundown of City Beer Store fifth anniversary brews, which celebrate eccentric West Coast brewing:
• The Bruery Wanderer: Dark sour ale aged in barrels with blackberries and cherries, 8% ABV
• Fifty Fifty Brewing Rouge Baril Baltique: Baltic porter aged in red wine barrels, 6.8% ABV
• S.F. Brewers Guild Agent Orange: IPA with orange peel, 7.6% ABV (currently on tap at City Beer Store; call ahead for availability, 503-1033)
• Midnight Sun Brewing Open Container: sour beer fermented with wild Alaskan yeast and aged in Chardonnay barrels, 6% ABV
• Cascade Brewing Figaro: sour beer with figs, 8.5% ABV