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City Beer Store : It's About Time!
By Angela Wagner

Finally, a proper bottle shop featuring beer opened in San Francisco. Craig Wathen, a Bay Area beer missionary, opened the City Beer Store on May 2, 2006. Wathen intends to help get the word out that beer is a beautiful handcrafted nectar of love. He says, “I want everyone to see this beverage the way we do, as an artisanal product of high quality. I want City Beer to be a catalyst for a more thoughtful approach to drinking beer.”

Located in the bustling South of Market area of San Francisco, City Beer has an intimate yet modern feel. The shop occupies approximately 820 square feet of space. As you enter, it’s like you’ve stepped into a cool and inviting living room. There are a couple of tables where you can hang out and sample beer from the tasting bar. There are also a couple of comfy leather chairs to curl up in and read something from Wathen’s beer and brewing library.

Product is maintained well away from the front windows and kept at proper temperature. Four beers are available on draft and will frequently rotate. Wathen wants to ensure that both his bottled and draft products are in the best condition.

Wathen fell in love with beer early on. His “aha” moment came while traveling in the Czech Republic in the mid-’90s. While trying a fresh Budvar right from the source and observing the whole culture of beer, he knew he wanted to be a part of this industry. From Pete’s Wicked Ale to Gambrinus, the City Beer Store is a loving expression of a guy smitten with beer.

Though Wathen feels a certain responsibility to offer craft beer from local brewers, he will showcase other creative brewing talents throughout the nation. He hopes to build upon the great Bay Area brewing pillars established over the last decade and be a voice in the “Beer 2.0” movement, a second craft-brewing renaissance where we’re seeing styles and techniques that are outside the box. Examples are the almost cultlike love of beers such as Shaun O’Sullivan’s Watermelon Wheat at the 21st Amendment; Vinnie Cilurzo’s Pliny the Elder Double IPA at Russian River; and Dave McLean’s Weekapaug Gruit at Magnolia.

Wathen says, “People are excited by the creativity and are looking to try new things.” City Beer will be a great place to do just that.

City Beer Store
1168 Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

Angela Wagner is a San Francisco–based writer/photographer.


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