Now, common sense most likely, and any reputable camping guide certainly will tell you that a thirsty bear—never mind a hungry one—is something to be avoided when spending time in the great outdoors. Ah, but here in the wilds of San Francisco the rules are quite a bit different and should you find that you yourself are thirsty or hungry you shouldn’t hesitate to head directly to the ThirstyBear Organic Brewing Co. in its natural habitat on the six hundred block of Howard Street in the South of Market district.
You can satisfy your thirst there with a great variety of German-influenced, hand-crafted beers brewed West Coast style—on draught and only available at ThirstyBear—including pilsners, IPAs, stouts, Belgian-inspired ales, cask-conditioned ales, session beers, barrel-aged brews, and seasonal brews, over two dozen to select from in all. If not quite everything from A to Z, they span at least 25 letters of the alphabet, ranging from the Aged Cherry Ale, an American Wild Ale, to an ancient herbed Scottish gruit called the Yerba Buena Pale Gruit. The brewing technique original to California that resulted in the Steam Beer is best represented by the California Common beer called “The 49er.”
Since 2007 the brewery has used Ingredients sourced from top-flight malt houses and the best West Coast organic hop farms to produce organic beer certified by the Food and Drug Administration and the California Certified Organic Farmers. ThirstyBear Organic Brewing Co. is now a Certified Green Organic business thanks to owner and founder Ron Silberstein’s commitment to using sustainable agriculture, a priority since the brewery first started operations in 1996. There are alternatives to beer for satisfying your inner thirsty bear, as well: California, Spanish, and sparkling wines, select cocktails, and an in-house style Sangria that’s made fresh daily.
You don’t have to enjoy all of this libation on an empty stomach, either; ThirstyBear is a Spanish cuisine restaurant in addition to being an organic brewery, offering a menu of tapas and paellas, as well as select charcuterie and cheese plates, flatbreads, and burgers. Executive Chef Robert McCarthy works closely with Head Brewer and Certified Cicerone Brenden Dobel to pair the various dishes with complementary brews, and even uses beer or the raw ingredients of beer in preparing many of the specialty dishes, such as malt extract in the empanada dough, cascade hops in the salmon cure, and beer yeast starters for leavening bread doughs. As with the beer, the modern take on Spanish food emphasizes seasonal fresh ingredients that have been sustainably harvested.
On Sunday evenings the bar becomes The Flamenco Room and features live Flamenco music with a special Flamenco Menu of foods from the various regions of Spain to complement the dances of the respective regions. The ThirstyBear Organic Brewing Co. is also the first stop on the SF Brew Ride, a convenient and stylish way to tour the beer-drinking landscape of San Francisco, but should you be so be so parched as to prefer to proceed there more directly, by all means do so and don’t be afraid to poke this particular bear. You can tell ‘em Yogi and Boo-Boo sent you.
Writer J. Eric Miller has been nominated for Miss Rhine-gold three times despite that he never touches beer, and he’s the person to whom they say, “You’re sweet, my dear.” An easy drunk, he’s a lightweight who prefers the hard stuff and has never been successfully prosecuted for public intoxication.