Mike Koozmin/S.F. ExaminerPatrons enjoy beer and food at Mikkeller in the Union Square-Nob Hill area

The rise of the beer bar in SF

With a full-scale liquor license, called a Type 47 and costing upward of $200,000, beer bars are sprouting up all over San Francisco.

The Type 47 license allows for the sale of beer, wine and spirits, and they are hard to come by because state law limits the total number per county. There's a whole cottage industry surrounding the license, and usually a Type 47 can only be obtained through a broker.

Dan Kramer, a booze broker for Strike and Techel, said the high cost of these licenses is probably the cause of the increase in beer bars.

In the Union Square-Nob Hill area in the past two years alone, bars like Mikkeller, Liquid Gold, Hopwater Distribution and Hogwash have all sprouted up.

“The cost of obtaining a Type 47 probably really pushes people to serve only beer and wine,” Kramer said.

Type 41 license for beer, wine and food sales cost significantly less by several hundred to a several thousand dollars, and there are no limitations on how many are offered through the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

However, there is another type of license offered by the state that allows liquor to be served without having to spend $200,000 on a Type 47 license.

The Type 75 license, also called a brewpub license, permits liquor sales as long as the establishment is producing some of its own beer on site.

“The licensed premises shall have a minimum seven-barrel brewing capacity, and the licensee shall produce not less than 100 barrels nor more than 5,000 barrels of beer annually on the licensed premises,” according to the Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The Type 75 license costs $13,800. But factor in the amount of money for the equipment, staff to make the beer and space for the operation, and you might not save much money.

In San Francisco, there are 12 companies that have a brewpub license, as listed on Alcoholic Beverage Control's website. And unlike the Type 47, which The City is maxed on and must be purchased on the market, there's not a limit to the number of Type 75 licenses that can be issued.

The answer to pouring booze at your bar might just be in brewing beer.


When someone in San Francisco buys you a shot of fernet branca, you drink it. Despite how you might feel about the Italian digestif, it would be rude to refuse it.

It's no secret that fernet is hugely popular in San Francisco. Knowing this, two guys — Max Rudsten and Ben Flajnik (yes, the former “Bachelor” star) — decided to come up with a recipe of their own and call it Fernet Francisco.

And like many amari whose recipes are a closely guarded secret, so is theirs. The pair were willing to share that mint, rhubarb, bay leaf and orange peel are among the 12 locally sourced ingredients.

You can find a 750 ml bottle through Bitters + Bottles for $39.50. Fernet Francisco, fernetfrancisco.com


From the same guys — Tonic Nightlife Group — who brought you Tonic, Bullitt and others comes Mission Street's newest addition: Buffalo Club. Just a few doors down from sister restaurant Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, Buffalo Club offers cocktails by glass or the pitcher, with a focus on pizza in the kitchen. 2331 Mission St., buffaloclubsf.com


Nine bartenders from the West Coast chapter of the United States Bartenders' Guild are shaking it up at Monarch this Cinco De Mayo (May 5) with mezcal and tequila concoctions that branch out from the classic agave libations.

For $20, you can have unlimited tastes of the nine featured cocktails. Proceeds will go to the Tequila Interchange Project, which advocates for the preservation and practices of agave spirits, and La Cocina, which helps food entrepreneurs with affordable commercial kitchen space.

Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite or at the door. 7-10 p.m., 101 Sixth St., eventbrite.com

FeaturesFood & DrinkFood and Wineliquor licenseMikkellerSan Francisco bars

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