The Bay Area craft beer community is large and robust, comprised of the well established, the mid-players and the up-and-comers. The creativity and diversity of the brewers is unlimited. Fortunately, the region is chock full of brewpubs, bars, tap rooms and restaurants that highlight the craft beers of local and guest brewers for beer lovers to savor. Happy hours offer opportunities to sample and evaluate the bounty of craft beers, so aim to try them all.
21st Amendment Brewery
563 2nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
This full-service bar and pub is ideally situated just two blocks from where the San Francisco Giants play, and is a magnet for sports fans ready to celebrate. The bar pours its own handcrafted brews as well as several guest beers. Happy hour, Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. (excluding game days), offers a range of 21st Amendment’s own craft brews, as well as a few guest beers from partnering breweries, and gives $2 off all draft beers, bringing most beers to $4 each. Happy hour deals are for beer only, although 21st Amendment has an expansive bar menu with beer-partnering buddies, such as fried cheese curds, beer-battered onion hoops and bar classic, tater tots.
Russian River Brewing Company
725 4th St.
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
The Russian River Brewing Company has an interesting history from its legendary beginnings. Previously owned by Korbel Champagne Cellars, the company left the beer business in 2003 and offered its brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo and wife Natalie rights to the name, and the rest is modern history. The focus at RRBC is on “traditional, aggressively hopped California style ales, Belgian inspired ales and barrel aged beers.” The brewery brews a full range of ales and lagers just for its pub and some limited distribution. Check the website for a listing of ales and beers on tap and those available in bottles, plus a wealth of additional information on the brewery, its distribution and pub menu. Stop by for happy hour, Monday through Friday from 4 to 6:30 p.m., and all day Sunday when most ales, minus sours and specialty ales, are $3.50.
Related: Ask A San Francisco Expert: Fall Beers To Try
Bear Republic Brewery
345 Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Right in the heart of Northern California Wine Country, in lovely Healdsburg’s historic downtown square, sits Bear Republic Brewing Company, a popular and award-winning local brewery. The spot offers world-class, handcrafted ales and excellent food to go along with those brews. This family-friendly place is proud of its diverse menu and above all, the more than 14 freshly brewed beers on tap. The beers pair oh so nicely with the food, made with local ingredients, and often become an ingredient in some of the items, such as the Racer 5 spent grain buns that hold the burgers. Introduce yourself at happy hour at the Bear, Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., and enjoy handcrafted ales and yummy pub food. Happy hour offers $3 pints for most beers, and always on tap. Stop by for something different and delicious in wine country.
2620 Broadway St.
Redwood City, CA 94063
Consistently good food and beer and outside seating are the pluses here at City Pub, where the whole package is a definite crowd pleaser. City Pub is mainly a local spot that draws its regulars in with a warm and comfy atmosphere, uber friendly attitude, large pub food portions and a great selection of local brews and a few not-so-local. There are 24 beers on tap, including lager, ale, IPA, porter and stout, and even a Belgian white and a cider. The pub has on-tap specialties with names like Snakebite, Fishbite and Shandy, quality bottled beers, plus a separate guest beer list. Join in at happy hour, Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., for $1 off beers and $2 off menu starters.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
1195 Evans Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94124
Steeped in 1920s imagery, Speakeasy is the backdrop for some exciting beers that began even before the 2011 opening of The Speakeasy Tap Room. Back in 1997, a team of bootlegger friends producing small batches of exceptional beer in a secret warehouse felt motivated to introduce their brews to the masses. Located in San Francisco’s industrial district, the Speakeasy Tap Room boasts 12 rotating taps of fresh beer to enjoy in tasting flights and growlers to go. Set in the heart of the brew production facility, the Tap Room Brewhouse-Bar comes with a bonus, as it hosts special events each Friday along with food from local vendors. The beers are divided into four series: The Usual Suspects, ales and lagers brewed year round; the Limited Series, a rotating selection of small batch releases; the Infamous Series, “three of the boldest, most elusive releases, brewed in single batches;” and the Syndicate Series, a release of “a unique blend of strong beers that have been aged in American spirits barrels for no less than twelve months.” Speakeasy offers a small happy hour with $1 off all beers from 1 to 4 p.m. every day, except on Monday when the bar is closed.
Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.