Hold the Wine, Bring Me a BEER!

Written by Michael Bauer for insidescoopsf.sfgate.com

A selection of beers at Leopold’s. Alex Washburn/The San Francisco Chronicle

Beer is quickly becoming as popular as wine in San Francisco –not surprising, given the city’s distinguished brewing tradition. Earlier this year, Travel and Leisure readers ranked SF as the ninth in America’s Best Beer Cities.

And beer’s popularity is on the increase at at some of the city’s best restaurants. There have always been places like Toronado that features about 50  brews, and  the Monk’s Kettle that has 25  on draft and even more bottles. But you know there’s something brewing when mainstream hotels like the Palomar  (above Old Navy,  on Market and Fourth streets), creates a “Local Brew for Two Package” to lure people to the city.

The special room package starts at $229. Guests receive a mini-fridge filled with Anchor Steam beer, and warm pretzels from the Fifth Floor restaurant in the hotel, sent to the room on request. The press release also mentions the restaurant’s $25 burger, bourbon and beer promotion, where diners in the bar get a thick burger and fries, a shot of bourbon and a pint of artisan beer that change seasonally.

Other restaurants have also beefed up their beer offerings. Here are a few that stand out:

Boxing Room : This Louisiana-inspired restaurant  matches its boldly flavored food with 18 draft beers, plus 13 bottles. They’re well selected, ranging from Jockamo IPA ($6) to Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout ($7)  and Chimay White ($9/16 ounces).

Locavore: All the wines and beer come from a 100-mile radius of the restaurant and they are equally represented — 23 of each. Offerings include Blue Frog Hefeweizen ($9/22 ounces); Rubicon IPA ($9/22 ounces); and Santa Cruz Ale Works Dark Night Stout ($9/22 ounces). The five beers on tap include Linden Street Urban Peoples Common Lager from Oakland ($4.75) and Triple Voodoo Brewing Co. Tripel ($6) from San Francisco.

Hawker Fare: When I reviewed this Oakland restaurant a few months ago, owner Jame Syhabout, who also has Commis, only offered seven beers and no wine at all. Now he serves six beers including Racer 5 IPA, Lagunitas Dogtown Pale Ale and Singha Lager from Thailand  (all $4.50), along with five wines.

Leopold’s: When you see the boot-shaped steins coming from the bar at this Alpine-inspired restaurant, you know that drinking shares equal billing with the food. Owners Albert and Klaus Rainer are meticulous about how it’s presented – they have more than a dozen glasses for serving the eight beers on tap and the 17 different bottles. Most beers are from Germany or Austria, with classic labels such as Augustiner ($8), Munich’s oldest brewery. Each glass is rinsed in water just before the brew is poured to help promote and maintain the head.