Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

City Beer Store Opens In S.F.

By William Brand
Wednesday, June 14th, 2006 at 12:51 pm in Uncategorized.

Ever wandered through a store with a great beer selection, see an unusual beer and wonder if you’d like it or not. Until now, in the San Francisco Bay Area, the only alternative is to buy the bottle, take it home and try it.

I’ve done this a lot and sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. The worst thing is to find a beer I like, but when I go back for more, it’s gone. Well, Craig Wathen has a solution to this old dilemma.

He’s opened a store at 1168 Folsom St. in San Francisco called City Beer. He’s got a stock of 300 different beers, including at least 50 Belgians – Rochefort 10***** to Delirium Tremors**. Here’s what’s different. His California liquor license allows him to pour a sample of any beer on the shelf. “I can split any 12-ounce bottle, six ounces per pour,” he said. He’s holding his grand opening this Saturday night. More on that in a minute.

This is a place made for friends. Bring a friend, choose a bottle, Craig will pour each of you a six ounce pour. A bottle of Rochefort 10, for example, would cost each of you, half the $6.49 price, plus a $1 corkage fee – $3.89 each, plus tax.

Did you ever want to try a Belgian Lambic gueuze, an ancient style brewed with wild yeast. Some of the almost candy sweet Lambics, like Lindeman’s** are easy to find. But how about sampling a Lambic from one of the highly regarded, traditional brewers like Cantillon?

Craig stocks Rose’ de Gambrinus, made with raspberries, and Vitgneronne, a Lambic made with Italian grapes, brewed by Cantillon and Gueuze Giradin for $5.50 per person? There’s one more important thing to know. Craig serves all of his beers in their proper glass. Rochford gets its glass. Trumer Pils from Berkeley has its own, distinctive, cylindrical glass.

Wait – there’s more. He also has four beers on tap each day. Cost for a six-ounce pour ranges from $2 to about $4.50 depending on the beer. When you find what you want, he’ll sell you a six-pack of a single beer or a mix of beers of your choosing, 10 percent off his regular per-bottle price.

His stock appears to be expanding steadily. This week, he said, he’s added the following: Domestic: Stone Vertical Epic, Stone Imperial Stout, Lagunitas Gnarley Wine

German: Georg Schneider Weisen Edel-Weisse (organic)- revived recipe of Georg Schneider I after 57 years.

English: Duchy Organic English Ale, London Pride,, Old Peculiar, St. Peter’s Porter,Black Sheep Ale.

A bit of background: Craig started working at Pete’s Brewing in Palo Alto. When Pete Slosberg sold Pete’s Wicked Ale to Gambrinus Co., he chose not to go to San Antonio, where Gambrinus is headquartered. Instead, he worked at a number of beer, wine and spirits companies in sales.

“Finally,” he said. “My fiance and I took a year off to travel. When we came back, I wanted do something different. I actually started selling wine in San Francisco and I noticed when you go to these wine speciality shops, there would be people who had a lot of knowledge about wine who had a lot of great wines.

“There was nothing like that in the Bay Area for beer,” he said. So, the City Beer store was born.

Craig says his grand opening event, this Saturday, June 17, from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. “will be an evening of unlimited samples of draft beers, complementary appetizers, and an opportunity to talk shop with brew representatives.

Beers on tap will be: Farmhouse Brewing Company- Saison 7, North Coast Brewing Company- Pranqster, Stone Brewing Company- Arrogant Bastard, Speakeasy Brewing Company- Big Daddy IPA.

Cost is $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Call: (415) 503-1033, or email – thecitybeerstore@yahoo.com.

See you there Saturday night.

Regular hours, by the way, are Tuesday-Friday, noon – 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon until 9 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 6 p.m. The store at 1168 Folsom is between 7th and 8th Streets. It’s a bit hard to find: Look for the brick sidewalk.

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