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Thirsty Bear Brewing Company

  • 661 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94105
  • (415) 974-0905
  • thirstybear.com


Luke Maffei

Thirsty Bear is more of a solution for locals and business types than a destination spot for tourists, but it holds up against better restaurants by being really good at what it does best: selling beer to large groups of people.

If you need a same day reservation for 10, Thirsty Bear will make it happen. Conveniently located by the convention center, it may just fill that niche you and your business party....and scene!

And while often judged as a restaurant, Thirsty Bear is much better micro brewery. The beer they offer is genuinely good. And fans of beer can head on in with their heads held high.


Thirsty Bear Brewing Company is one of several popular local brewpubs that craft their own beer in San Francisco. The entirety of their beer selection here is organic and, from what I recall, I particularly liked the seasonal IPA they offered during the time I visited. My natural inclination was to compare the drafts here to 21st Amendment, the other downtown brewpub. I remember distinctly liking the beer here more, though I would really have to revisit them both (oh, darn) to come to a solid conclusion, especially as my impression of 21st Amendment increased over the past year.

For a brewery restaurant, their food is a bit more upscale. To be honest, I haven’t tried it yet, but, looking at the prices on their menu, I doubt I’ll be here for food anytime soon. According to the website, their dishes attempt to “rethink traditional Spanish tapas into a contemporary California context,” and they use “sustainably harvested seafood” and “responsibly stewarded meats.” Not bad.

Located downtown, Thirsty Bear is easily accessible via BART and MUNI. This is a popular place for after-work patrons, so you may face a crowd after business hours.

Scott Daly

I have always been a fan of Thirsty Bear and their beers since we had them on tap back in the day when I worked at The Hopyard Alehouse in San Ramon. We worked with them many times for pint night so i always had my share of some free beer. I have visited them in San Francisco and It's even a much better experience to sit inside at the bar and enjoy a nice tall pint in their comfy atmosphere. I'm craving an IPA right now as I write this!

Rhia R.

Came here on a regular weeknight for a quick bite, and it was actually pretty good. 3 of us split the calamari, grilled asparagus, and bocadillos. Their beer is okay. We all had the brown bear ale, which reminded me a bit of Guinness. I think the polar bear lager would have been a better choice for me since I like lighter beers. I'm really not a beer drinker, BUT if I had to, I would choose light ones. 5 stars for the service from our waiter Shannon, 4 stars for the food, and 3 for the beer. Truth is, I favor the tapas at Cha Cha Cha's and the beer from GB over this place.

Jason Flegel

It's not the best game in town, but it definitely does the trick. Perfect for large groups, Thirsty Bear isn't usually my first choice, but I'll always be up for going.

I enjoyed the Paella, and most of the small plates are pretty A-OK. The beers are proprietary microbrews; I haven't tried them all, but the ones I did try were decent: I've had better, but it's a definite step-up from a Sam Adams (not that there's anything wrong with Sam). For the price, though, it's kind of a toss-up.

Tracy C

You can't tell from the name of this brew pub but it's also a family friendly Spanish tapas restaurant. I used to live the tapas here but it seems to have gone down hill in recent years. I sell love the spicy patatas bravas potatoes. But tortilla espanola and the octopus with sausage were disappointingly bland. There's a basic kids menu (chicken and rice, grilled cheese) and serve a decent burger too.

Darren Anderson

Great spot with a fun atmosphere to grab a in-house brewed cold one and some bites! My favorite dish is the paella, it's pretty good and enough for two people to share.

Jonathan Musselwhite

I really wanted to like this place more. Granted we came only for drinks, but over half their beers were unavailable at the time due to some brewery upgrades. Need to give it another try sometime.

Jesse James

Food was ok if a little overthought, beer was ok if a little underwhelming, layout was kind of hectic if a little overstuffed. I don't feel like I'll remember this place in a week, and I guess that's ok if a little unimpressed.

Joe Gordon

Great variety of tapas in a fun setting conveniently located near Moscone Center and BART. They also have a great selection of unique beers.

Kristina A

As a lover of German and Belgian style beers the hop-heavy microbrews at most other places just aren't my thing. The beers at Thirsty Bear please my taste buds, the ESB won out as my favorite with its caramel deliciousness. I also sampled a bit of the menu: Cheese pairing was a pretty tiny piece but really good. I was pretty disappointed with the burger which was overpriced and not all that good. The muscles were really good especially if you like spicy. 5 stars for the beer (which is organic!), four for the food (and 2 for the burger). Definitely worth a visit whether for dinner or a night out.

Jaime Lehman

On a Sunday night, if you're lucky, you can snag a seat at the bar staring straight at the small, heavily lighted wooden platform. Eventually a small group of beautifully dressed musicians and dancers will come out and perform a flamenco show.

On any other day, their food is still fantastic, their beer is delicious, and it's a fun Spanish tapas atmosphere to engage with strangers and friends. My favorite is the paella - any kind. They do it right. The sofrito, a hardened saffron rice crust at the bottom, adds an amazing crunch along with the other flavors. Grab a beer sampler and finish with churros to dip in the most wonderfully rich hot chocolate afterward.

Stanley Chan

If you're looking for a cool place for Happy Hour or a drink or bar grub, come check out the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company. Nice atmosphere, good drinks, and decent prices, it's an enjoyable spot to meet up with friends.

Caroline Carlos

It's undeniably an interesting bar crowd here. It's a beer kind of place, but that doesn't mean you can't get a cocktail. Most of the patrons probably work nearby, and because they come in groups, you know it's not a bad place to decompress after a long day at the office.


A good place to grab a well brewed beer while waiting for traffic to die down.

Fran V.

Nice place to try some new brews. A friend and I came here on a weekday afternoons and it was slow, which was nice. We grabbed a seat by the bar and were quickly helped by the bartender. He made some nice recommendations on the food and suggested we try their pintxos, which was their skewers. They were all good, but my favorite was the house smoked oysters with picked peppers. We also ordered a set each of the taster beers. It was nice to taste the different kind of brews that they had. If you are a beer person, you should check this place out. Make sure you come thirsty!

Carly Paoli

Came here one late night to try the beer and was pleasantly surprised. Even though the bar was closing soon, the waitstaff was very nice and explained all the different beers to us. And the beer was great, some of the best microbrew in the city. I'll be back the next time I stay at The W!!!

Oliver Storm

Their home-brewed beer is ok, not amazing, but they do have pool tables and darts (but isn't dark and dingy like most places with both of those things) which makes it a fun after-work place for a relaxed happy hour with co-workers or a group that wants to do more than just drink.

Joseph Campbell

I liked this place, but the food was a bit pricey. It was delicious, but expensive for bar food. I went with friends and we ordered a few different dishes - best way to go, for sure.

Marisa Thu

I've been here a couple of years ago and didn't remember much about it. So I came back recently for a lunch quick bite on a Saturday, sans beer or drinks. We got the lentil soup, fried kennebac potatoes (popular these days) and cesar salad. I liked them all.

Warning: Since this is a tapas place, I thought I needed to order more than usual. I was wrong. The dishes are pretty substantial and good average portions. Don't be fooled by the tapas concept.

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