Given the increasing popularity of craft beer, you'd think there would be specialty brew shops in every neighborhood by now. But, despite years of booming industry growth, City Beer Store and Healthy Spirits have held their footing as the city's notable destinations for craft beer shopping outside of Whole Foods and Bevmo.
Pacific Heights dwellers will be happy to know that there's a newcomer in the mix. Welcome Ales Unlimited, a corner store with big aspirations. From the outside, there isn't much to alert passersby to the nearly 700 beers tucked inside the small space. Luckily, our beer-radar registered the Chimay sign hanging from the awning.
Beers are organized by style and brewery, and priced comparably to other local shops. Our visit yielded bottles of Almanac Summer 2010, and three new products from Anchorage Brewing. As appealing as the brown bag was, We picked up a Russian River Brewing goblet for good measure. A beer list, with prices, is available on the website.
For City Beer Store locals, this might be a good time to visit Ales Unlimited, as CBS is closed until October 5th (presuming that construction goes to plan). After 5 years of breaking down walls in SF's craft beer scene, the shop is demolishing one of its own. We expect huddled masses cheering as the wall comes down, and City Beer Store occupies the neighboring commercial space. City Beer Store 2.0 will have a more distinct separation between the bottle shop and bar/cafe elements.
Customers popping in to grab a 6-pack won't have to fight crowds on event nights, and bar dwellers can have conversations without being crowded in front of beer coolers. Expect more taps, more bottles, and more elbow room. And, less wall.