The new bar. Photos © Brian Stechschulte

The long awaited City Beer Store expansion will be revealed to the public later today at 5pm after ten months of planning, bureaucracy and two weeks of brisk construction. Owners Craig and Beth Wathen finally knocked down the cement block wall that separated their popular bottle shop and bar from the adjacent storefront. It’s a project they envisioned since opening just over five years ago and the results will certainly be appreciated by the craft beer community.

The list of upgrades and new additions is lengthy, but simply put, everything has more then doubled in size from taps to shelf and elbow room. The first thing guests will notice upon entering is the wrap around bar and a clear division between the bottle shop and tasting area. According to Beth Wathen, this design will allow people to easily peruse the bottles without dodging large crowds. Customers will now be surrounded by a library of bottles sitting on shelves and in new five door cooler. If it took you a while to choose a beer in the old space, plan on spending a little more time among the dizzying array of choices.

Craig Wathen putting the final touches on the expanded bottle selection.

The view from the old space, now the bottle library, into the new tasting area.

Behind the wood and poured concrete bar you’ll find some of the most exciting additions. Guests can now choose from 15 taps or drool as they inspect the new rare beer cooler, where bottles from Cantillon and early Russian River batches have emerged from off-site storage. These bottles are available for on-premise consumption only. It’s a tactic Craig Wathen has decided to employ so more people can try the beer at market rates and deters Ebay auction gouging.

New taps drilled into the keg cooler.

Next to the bar sits a new walk-in cooler for kegs, which is no ordinary cold space. It’s outfitted with a window so customers can see the snaking tap lines and aluminum barrels when they’re not resting on the additional seating. Yes, instead of standing you’ll have more benches, high tops and bar seating to choose from.

An old barrel stand has become a table.

So what else can you expect from the new City Beer Store? Your beer will now be served in City Beer Store glassware, there’s a small private event/prep space with a one-way mirror, a new ADA lift is available in the old entrance, they’re planning to open on Mondays and might partner with nearby Citizen’s Band restaurant to do a small tasting menu. Whew!

All of the upgrades and new additions have solidified City Beer’s reputation as the premiere bottle shop and tasting room in San Francisco.

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