Mapping Historic San Francisco Breweries

Historical geography project, last updated in 2015.

Historic San Francisco’s breweries stretch back to the Gold Rush era, when hundreds of bars served thirsty miners in the Barbary Coast district. Since then breweries have come and gone over the years. Many were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Those that remained untouched, or were rebuilt, mostly prospered until Prohibition arrived in 1920, which decimated the industry.

America came to its senses in 1933, when Prohibition ended. Once again beer flowed from breweries in San Francisco, albeit in smaller numbers. By the 1950′s, brewery mergers and acquisitions lead to the development of large brewing corporations that dominated the marketplace. Companies like Hamm’s, Acme and Burgermeister were household names in the city. As this happened the number of breweries in San Francisco quickly declined.

The tied started to shift in the San Francisco Bay Area when a new generation of brewers emerged in 1960’s. They not only revived brewing culture in the city, but inspired homebrewers across the entire country. It began when Fritz Maytag rescued San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing from closure in 1965, and turned it into a successful and innovative brewery. Then in 1976, Jack McAuliffe opened New Albion Brewery in Sonoma County, which is considered the first microbrewery in the United States. These pivotal moments lead to the development of the craft brewing industry in the 1980’s, although brewery growth in San Francisco was slow.

During the 1980’s only three breweries called the city home: Anchor Brewing, the Seacliff Cafe, and San Francisco Brewing Company. As the concept of craft beer became more popular in the mid 1990’s, brewpubs started to pop up all over San Francisco. Some opened, only to quickly fade, while others still operate today.

The map below attempts to document San Francisco breweries from 1849 to the start of prohibition. The project is far from being completed. There were many breweries operating in 19th century San Francisco. Many have a recorded location, while others do not. The maps will occasionally be updated or corrected with new information when acquired. If you have any helpful info regarding this project, please contact me.

The majority of historic San Francisco breweries on this map were culled from American Breweries II, a book by Dale P. Van Wieren (Eastern Coast Breweriana Association, 1995), and extensive research of city databases, maps, and Internet resources. On a related note, check out my small collection of beer labels from San Francisco.