The only thing better than drinking good beer is drinking good beer outside on a sunny day from a giant half-liter mug. All this and more has been possible since the people behind Suppenküche, the beloved Hayes Valley German restaurant, opened their outdoor shrine to German bier last year. Open Wednesday through Sunday. Closed for rain.
Drink this: Hofbräu Helles ($6, 0.5 liter), a classic biergarten draft.
424 Octavia St. (near Fell St.) 415-252-9289
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
This Bayview-based brewery not only makes some of the city’s finest pale ales, but also has a huge, popular bar plus a new, intimate taproom that offers private tastings and events. Another change: Its doors are now open six days a week.
Drink this: Speakeasy Scarlett ($3, 16 ounces), a sumptuous red rye.
1195 Evans Ave. (near Keith St.) 415-642-3371
Mill Valley Beerworks
The modest Marin microbrewery, known for its tasteful and balanced (if a tad idiosyncratic) beers, recently got a makeover and reopened with top-notch food.
Drink this: Beerworks Black ($6, 0.4 liter), an incisive ale that’s sharper and lighter than its black hue would suggest.
173 Throckmorton Ave. (at Madrona St.), Mill Valley 415-888-8218
Drink like you're in Old Belgium without leaving Old Oakland. Funky Flemish beers taste all the finer emerging from 25 regularly changing taps (there are also over 100 bottles to choose from). Beer grub, such as sausage and sauerkraut and pastrami sandwiches, is on the menu.
Drink this: Wet Dream ($14.50, 0.5 liter), by Brooklyn’s Evil Twin, a bitter brown ale brewed with coffee that's the house beer, made specifically for the Trappist.
460 8th St. (near Broadway), Oakland 510-238-8900
The East Bay’s punky answer to the Haight’s Toronado is the top place to find and drink rare California craft beers on tap and, often, rub elbows with the brewers themselves. It also functions as a beer shop.
Drink this: Drake's Denogginizer Imperial IPA ($5, 12 ounces).
464 3rd St. (near Broadway), Oakland 510-452-2337
City Beer Store
Besides offering a selection of more than 300 brews for sale, San Francisco’s reigning retail beer temple has a tasting room that gives it a second distinction: It's the city’s best spot to talk (geekily) of beer while downing a few pints.
Drink this: The Wanderer ($60, 0.75 liter), from Orange County’s Bruery, a sour red made exclusively for the store’s five-year anniversary last year.
1168 Folsom St. (near 8th St.) 415-503-1033
Owner David Lynch might be one of the country’s premier wine guys, but he was smart enough to endow his gastropub of a restaurant, which opened in May, with a great beer selection and entrust it to certified cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski, formerly of the Monk’s Kettle. The sourcing here is brewerydirect.
Drink this: 1903 Pre-Prohibition-Style Lager ($6, 12 ounces), from Craftsman, L.A.’s cultish microbrewery.
1270 Valencia St. (near 24th St.) 415-285-1200
Whole Foods may not be the sexiest place to meet up for a few drinks, but you can’t knock its discerning palate. The supermarket’s new beer-and-coffee bar beneath its Potrero Hill store has a well-chosen local craft beer selection that dominates the 16 handles.
Drink this: Zymaster ($6, 20 ounces), from Anchor Brewing, which is just a block away.
450 Rhode Island St. (at 17th St.) 415-552-1155
The Abbot’s Cellar
This lofty, ambitious restaurant opened in July with the bold goal of melding fine food with even finer beer. It's hard to decide which is the greater showstopper: the diverse tap selection running from the classic (Moonlight Brewing’s Death and Taxes) to the cutting edge (Firestone’s Pivo pils), or the bar area’s exquisite, backlit gallery of beer glasses.
Drink this: Yeti Imperial Stout ($5.25, 6 ounces), from Denver’s Great Divide.
742 Valencia St. (near 18th St.) 415-626-8700
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