03/25/2014 Brooks R. / San Francisco on Yelp
Fantastic hidden gem. Little hole in the wall beer store that is packed with great local, national, and international craft brews. Lots of hard-to-find stuff, I went over because they said they had Iron Maiden’s Trooper beer from Robinson’s Brewery and sure enough they did. Picked up a few bottles but also spent another 20 minutes just perusing their very impressive selection. I’m will be back for sure.
03/22/2014 David S. / Tenderloin, San Francisco, CA on Yelp
This is my go to spot for beers. The lady in the front counter (I think the owners wife) is very friendly and helpful. She knows her beer too! She’s recommended some great ones for me and my girlfriend and we weren’t disappointed! By the way..for those craft beer hunters, this place has it all! Plinys, bourbon county, etc.. Come visit ales!
03/17/2014 T O. / Truckee, CA on Yelp
The man and woman in the shop were very nice, helpful, knowledgeable, clearly liked beer. Had a few beers that I have been looking for for some time, without success, but they had them! Also had a nice assortment of imports, and the classics. Small and crowded but impressive, will definitely continue to make the trip.
01/04/2014 Michael G. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
Belgian beer lovers paradise. Over 900 beers. Very easy to find a new beer. Most around $15 for a big bottle and beer advocate ratings are posted. Staff really friendly and knowledgeable.
12/31/2013 Kate F. / Princeton, NJ on Yelp
Best rare beer selection ever. We were here from out of town visiting the husband’s parents for Thanksgiving without checked bags, so we couldn’t bring beers back to our side of the country. This did not stop the boy from buying at least a dozen bottles, many of which he hadn’t tried (this is hard to do these days) — it was a rather intoxicated holiday, and there are some beers hidden away in his parents’ house waiting for our next visit.
11/20/2013 Mark K. / Daly City, CA on Yelp
By far the best selection of rare/micro brew beers. Owner, Steve, is extremely helpful and very knowledgeable. Everytime I go for one beer I end up buying many. A real treasure.
11/15/2013 Arash P. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
Great Beer. The owner is amazing. The other worker there is very hasty and puts off a bad vibe (to me at least). If you want to dip into beers and not be overwhelmed by big box store craft brew section, I highly recommend coming here. Excellent selection of beer.
11/01/2013 Herman W. / Castro Valley, CA on Yelp
Went to my favorite bottle shop and purchased my favorite beverage from Germany – Stiegl-Radler Malt Beverage. Also picked up some Fruli Straberry Beer from Belgium for my wife. It’s a great little bottle shop and the owner, Steve is knowledgable about beer and is very friendly. Ales Unlimited also has a nice selection of European chocolates and I also purchased some of those for my wife. The customer in front of me was looking for some beer from his favorite brewery up North and they had it in stock for him. LOL
09/13/2013 Lisa K. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
Fantastic selection! They have my two favorite hard to find items Crabbies and Fruli. The shopkeeper was knowledgable and suggested other items to try based on my selection. I love little neighborhood places like this. Prices are a little high but it won’t stop me from a return trip.
09/07/2013 Mark C. / Santa Cruz, CA on Yelp
They stock Coopers! Haven’t found this beer anywhere else and looked all over. Great selection of Belgian ales too! Beer enthusiasts must visit this corner store.
08/07/2013 Cassandra J. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
A bit on the pricey side, but if you’re looking for some hard-to-get wines, ales or booze, you might want to check it out. Not guaranteed to have it, since they do have a smaller selection than, say, BevMo, but they have some things here that I haven’t found there. (GO GO RUSSIAN RIVER BREWERY!)
This will definitely be a location I’ll check out when I’ve got a craving for my favourite Belgian Ale that’s hard to find in the city. I’m glad to have another store that carries it.
06/27/2013 Anthony C. / Lafayette, CA on Yelp
A true beer Mecca. This place has everything, and the prices are what you would expect for this eclectic mixed inventory of crafties and rarities. A must for fans of good beer.
06/16/2013 Gregory S. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
Ales Unlimited is my go to beer bottle store in San Francisco.
Every time I go in I feel like a boy in a candy store. There are over 900 distinct bottles on the shelves and new bottles are always coming in. I’m continually amazed at how well they are able to stock rare beer.
Steve and Betty know a lot about beer and will be more than happy to discuss all the happenings in the beer world since your last visit. They have a handle on what’s new and interesting and will let you know when stock is expected or will even special order items for you.
There are other beer stores in San Francisco that have large bottle variety. However, they don’t have the level of customer service as Ales Unlimited. As a regular customer, I’m greeted by name and Steve and Betty will recommend new arrivals based on my preferences. I almost don’t don’t have to peruse the shelves any more: I just chat up whoever is working and I walk out a very satisfied customer.
My only real complaint about Ales Unlimited is that I have to walk up to Pacific Heights to get there. But, if that hill is a moat to keep out all but the dedicated beer connoisseurs, then I really can’t complain.
03/26/2013 Joshua s. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
Just discovered this place today. By far the best selection in the city! Great customer service and it’s a true gem of a spot! I will be back tomorrow!
03/10/2013 Emily C. / Hartford, CT on Yelp
YESSSS! Victory is mine!
It’s a small store packed to the brim with tons of craft microbrews (932 to be exact) from many breweries we can’t really get on the east coast, so quite the joy to browse. As expected, they carry Pliny the Elder and keep it behind the counter with a one per person purchase limit. I was lucky enough to have it on tap at Toronado the night before so I picked up a bottle at the store to bring back for my beer nerd boyfriend.
Otherwise, this is certainly a place I’d kill to have in CT. Tons of harder to find Dogfishhead Brews, all the Russian River I could dream of, Jolly Pumpkin, Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend…it just makes me so sad I couldn’t bring ’em all home on the plane!
02/23/2013 Jesse C. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
An off-the-beaten-path gem. If you are looking for good beer served up by good people, look no further. Amazing selection, knowledgeable staff.
12/14/2012 Lucas M. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
One of the best beer selections around. Highly curated and constantly updating (broadcasts new items on Facebook as well). I had the very amazing opportunity to purchase one of the limited release cases of Westvleteren from this guy.
Friendly and attentive owner who wants to provide great beer for everyone. They’ve also got a small selection of decent whisk(e)y, gin, etc. You won’t find the anything from the American megabreweries here. Go here for Belgians and Germans you can’t find elsewhere.
12/13/2012 Mike K. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
This is THE destination for Beer Geeks. Steve, the owner, is very friendly and maintains a ridiculous inventory of great beer. He gets rare and limited release items and never unfairly marks up the limited releases like some other places in San Francisco do. They always have hard to find Russian River beers such as Pliny the Elder and have a fantastic selection of belgians and sour beers too.
10/15/2012 Falcon91Wolvrn03, CA on BeerAdvocate
I found this place while searching for a beer on beermenus.com. This was the only store in the Bay Area I could find that seemed to have was I was looking for, so I came in to see if they actually carried it. Not only did they carry it, but they also carried a huge selection of other very good beer.
This store is relatively new, which explains why I haven’t heard of it before (and why there aren’t that many reviews yet on BA). The selection is fantastic. I saw a number of beers here that I couldn’t find at Healthy Spirits, and overall, I think the selection here is as great as the selection at Healthy Spirits. Prices are reasonable as well. If it means anything, beermenus.com shows they carry 921 beers as of this review compared to 788 at Healthy Spirits (although that list is probably not 100% complete or accurate). They recommended following them on Twitter for the latest updates.
The staff is friendly, and very helpful. They recommended some very good beer based on my tastes that I may not have otherwise found in their huge selection. I found them to be interesting to chat with, and very willing to go out of their way for me if I had any requests.
Overall, I feel this is one of the top beer stores in the Bay Area. Definitely worth checking out
09/24/2012 Billy C. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
Great selection of brews, wines and strong alcohol. More importantly, the owner Steve is a great person to talk and learn about the latest happenings on beers and ales. The service is great and I am definitely a repeat customer there.
08/01/2012 OBeerMeGreatOne, California on BeerAdvocate
I’m glad they finally added this spot for me. I found this place through City Beer Store after they had sold out of Black Butte XXIII. It took me a minute to find it after I called ahead. When I got there and introduced myself I was warmly greeted. My requests had been put aside and I got a nice little tour. They have a very nice selection in cramped quarters, but for the service and selection it is well worth it. The owner even told me he’d be willing to try and hunt down a few beers not normally shipped to CA. Kick ass sir. I’ll go back soon.
06/13/2012 steview on Ratebeer
The guy working there is great. He’s super into beer and serious about it, but also enthusiastic. The ambiance would be rated a 5, but it’s the neighborhood — it’s a corner-type store (which is completely surprising to me because it deserves so much more than being a “corner” store) so anyway, there might be a random guy interrupting for change or whatever. I’ve been to City Beer, Healthy Spirits, and now here: For beer bottle purchases, this is the best to me. This, then City Beer (because they also serve beer), and then Healthy Spirits. Healthy Spirits is more than beer though. Need to get to Ales Unlimited without a vehicle? Check out MUNI for bus routes, etc.: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mmaps/official.htm
06/09/2012 Angelo R. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
Ales Unlimited is Beer Heaven for me. An amazing selection of everything craft beer, both international and domestic. Steve, the owner, is extremely knowledgeable about beer and he is always willing to talk to customers to help them find the right beer. If you are a craft beer enthusiast, beer geek, whatever you want to call yourself, you will have a great time talking to Steve about beer.
I am always ecstatic when I see the selection of rare beers that Ales Unlimited has in stock, and the store always has new beer arriving. I live fairly close by, lucky me, but this store is worth the drive if you are a craft beer enthusiast, want to discover new beers, or get your hands on some rare beer bottles. You know those beers that you read about and can’t wait to try, check out Ales Unlimited and you won’t be disappointed.
Honestly, this is as good as it gets.
05/03/2012 TaxDork, CA on BeerAdvocate
Having just moved from a place that was a half block away from City Beer, I was thrilled to stumble upon Ales Unlimited so close to my new place.
If you took a neighborhood convenience store and converted it into a bottle shop, you’d get this place. It’s in a fairly small space on a quiet corner in Pac Heights. Parking on the surrounding streets is unmetered, but pretty hard to come by.
The selection is impressive given the somewhat cramped quarters. As other reviewers have pointed out, they carry a good mix of well known brands like Stone and Russian River as well as a wide variety of Belgians. I’ve definitely seen a number of breweries and releases on their shelves that I hadn’t seen carried anywhere else in town.
My first time in I chatted for a while with Steve, who I think is the owner. He was super friendly and offered to try to acquire anything they don’t currently carry. He also does good job of updating Twitter to let you know what has just hit their shelves.
One detail that I appreciate is that they post the Beer Advocate or Ratebeer scores for a large share of their stock. It’s a small thing, but I like not having to pull out my iPhone when I’m figuring out which of a half dozen new Mikkeller releases is a can’t miss.
The center of the store is made up of wine racks. I’ll be curious to see if they eventually phase that out in favor of more beer shelves as they get more popular.
04/20/2012 GJ40, North Carolina on Beer Advocate
I stopped in while in SF on business. The space is small but it fits nicely in its residential area not all that far from the touristy areas. They were in the process of adding a large new refrigeration unit so it was a little chaotic but I think it’s going to be a great addition. Despite the activity, the selection is pretty impressive and the atmosphere is very authentic. They had several from Russian River and lots of Belgians. The guy in the shop is very helpful and happy to talk beer. This place is well worth a visit.
04/16/2012 RblWthACoz, Korea (North) on BeerAdvocate
Awesome selection of beers. I love it when I walk into a place and there are more new beers that I’d like to try than I am willing (or able) to carry out of the place on my trek home. The store from the outside is pretty unassuming really. But once you get inside and start perusing the aisles, you see that this is not your typical little store. Lots and lots of goodies here to try. I mean they even had Sink the Bismarck here. And oversized bottles from d’Chouffe I had never seen before. I think they were some holiday special or something. They also had Rayon Vert pretty much the day after it was officially released. I still haven’t seen that beer in many places. I met the owner and we chatted it up a bit, which honestly, is not something I normally seek out. I just like to get my beer and head on out. But he was cool. He’s got the love (clearly) for the brew and he’s doing what he can to promote things and move it all forward. It’s too bad there aren’t more beer stores like this one, or that it was nearer to my place.
04/11/2012 Tyler L. / Berkeley, CA on Yelp
A while ago my girlfriend and I were riding up Fillmore, and decided we needed some Tripel Karmeliet, we knew Ales Unlimited would have it. When we rolled up, the place was closed. We were bummed, but we hung out in front to discuss our options for finding said beer, and right when we were about to take off the owner opened the door. He was still inside restocking shelves and noticed us, he invited us in saying that he would be a few more minutes. He let us shop, and chatted us up like he always does.
This was already my favorite beer shop in the city. This just underscored how great of a place it is.
Also, they have flavors of 3 Twins ice cream that are hard to find at a lot of other places, added bonus!
01/04/2012 BigB415, California on BeerAdvocate
I received a gift card to this shop for christmas and decided to check it out last saturday. It’s very easy to get to in the city since it’s practically right off Lombard. Nothing like Healthy Spirits where you have to travel a ways to get to. Parking is pretty tough, I had to get a spot down the street and around the corner and I barely fit in that spot. The actual shop is pretty small, I think it’s smaller then Healthy Spirits.
The service was great, there were 2 people working which is all you need in a shop this size. It was a man and a women. They were both very nice and the man was very eager to help which was nice since I needed it a few times. He even threw out some suggestions and told me about a few beers. The selection was nice, mainly belgium beers but there some beers like Stone, Ballast Point and Hair of the Dog.
My only quirk about this place which got me a little frustrated when I was in there shopping was that they don’t put prices on their beers so I didn’t know how much more than 3/4 of the beer stock cost. They had shelf talkers with a price on a few of the highly regarded beers.
Overall I really like this place. The employees were great, the stock was great and it’s in an easy location in a good neighborhood. If they changed the whole price thing I’d be back more since I didn’t recognize more than half the beer there. If you’re in the neighborhood check it out.
03/28/2012 Chris G. / Emeryville, CA on Yelp
This place has one of the best beer selections in the city. Prices are good. Store owners are nice and good to talk to.
03/27/2012 bill c. / San Jose, CA on Yelp
Truly stellar beer store. My brother and I went in on Saturday and Steve was there. We wound up spending 30 minutes with him talking about beers, breweries, different styles, etc. He was very generous with information and we walked about with some great beers. I highly recommend Strubbes, a Flemish red ale,.
01/11/2012 Ryan A. / Redwood City, CA on Yelp
Randomly came here with my wife a couple of days ago to see if they had Kasteel Rouge (a nearly impossible beer to find or even special order). Not only did they have a case of it in the back, but we got a nice lesson on beer importation. Very awesome. We’ll definitely be coming back whenever we are in the area!
12/30/2011 pat l. / San Francisco on Yelp
SO worth a special trip!
I found this place via a complicated search for my GF’s favorite specialty item- Floris apple beer, brewed in Belgium. Apparently it’s only buyable in California at this place and one place in LA – (not counting Speisekamer german restaurant in Alameda, where she lives, and perhaps some other rare exceptions that are not retailers.)
It’s a tiny place but all of their selection is like that.
Not only is it a lesson in beer to browse here, the owner, Steve, is a fabulous good guy.
Before coming I called him to ask about help with orders and he more than sold me. I mentioned occasionally hitting Bevmo for large orders of special items and he said, “they’re not even on my radar”. It’s true.
A large-ish order resulted in flexibility on price (well, they were running 10% off on limited edition Christmas brews anyways, so it wasn’t that big a stretch to ask) – and by surprise, he chased us on the way out to throw some delicious imported brandy chocolate in the box. I like getting things thrown at me in this manner. If you do too, go here. You will be in beer heaven.
There seem to be a few other similar places in town- one I can name is Healthy Spirits in the Castro (see my 5 star review). It’s good fortune to live in a town with places like this.
11/10/2011 Becky L. / San Francisco on Yelp
Love, love, love this store. We love Belgian style ales and this store has the best selection we’ve seen anywhere in San Francisco. The owner is incredibly knowledgeable and will spend 30-45 minutes with us making suggestions and educating us about local and international brewers. We never leave with less than a crate. Can’t say enough good things. If you love beer, this is the store for you.
11/4/2011 Mohammad A. / San Francisco on Yelp
City Beer Store, meh! Healthy Spritis is also bland. But Ales Unlimited is incredible. The selection here is phenomenal, the store owner is super helpful and friendly. I know when I come here that I’ll discover another American or a Belgian brew that I have not tasted before, and that’s what makes this store very special.
10/22/2011 jr c. / San Jose, CA on Yelp
Do you like beer? Do you know the difference between a Porter and a Dark Ale? Are you, in fact, a beer snob? This is your heaven.
Ales Unlimited is a tiny shop with a huge selection, kind of like a TARDIS, with a thick, creamy head. There’s the normal stuff, sure, but for a few dollars more, why not treat yourself to something far, far better?
They also have a good variety of specialty foods and wines for those not kin to the elder of drink. Speaking of which, they had Pilney the Elder in the cooler, ready for a picnic spread.
It’s worth the trip. It’s worth driving around Pacific Heights for half an hour trying to find a parking spot. It’s worth letting the wife drool over the imported chocolates and bags of snacks near the counter while you giddily debate grabbing a Rye’d Piper or a Voodoo, when you decide that both would be just fine.
10/13/2011 Dilys S. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
only 2 blocks away, love this place and thank goodness a neighborhood cozy and high quality alcohol and snack place like this exists. Prices are really reasonable! Great selection of wines, soft drinks, chocolates, and especially beers. The owner has great knowledge of beer, loves it too, makes great recommendations. All three owners are great and one is always on staff. Go-to store of the Pacific Heights
10/10/2011 Kevin H. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
This place has gone through a series of changes over the past few years, and I really like what it brings to the neighborhood in its current state.
It used to be your typical corner store. Candy, chips, soda, etc. The current owner, Steve, bought the place, and he cleaned it up a little. He made it nicer and changed up a lot of the selection. He also offered some specialty European chocolates and a few interesting beers. I guess the specialty beers took off, because his store focuses now completely on specialty alcohol.
If you want a $75 bottle of beer that is 40% alcohol, yup – you can find it here. If you’re like me and always on the hunt for the best IPAs, you can find those here too! Steve is my supplier of Racer 5 IPA. If you’re looking for interesting beers for a party, this is definitely the place to come! If you need a 30-pack of Coors Light for the tailgate, stick with Safeway.
Steve’s Ales Unlimited is a great addition to Pac Heights, and I always love coming in to see what new goodness he’s got!
09/4/2011 Randy R. / Los Gatos, CA on Yelp
Excellent selection of good, hard to find beers at very reasonable prices (comparable to BevMo, etc.). Very nice people working at the store. Yesterday was our first visit but we’ll definitely be back.
09/4/2011 Brian C. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
Now this is an ALE Store! Great Wine selection too! I drive from SOMA to go here. My friend drives from Sausalito to stock up on the rare and best beer. Beer’s from $2. – $80… yes there are beers that are worth that.
07/10/2011 Michael M. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
If you are looking for a fantastic selection of Wine, Beer and specialty foods this is the place to go. Betty and Steve care about what they carry in their store and always introduce their customers to fantastic new wines and beers. My latest favorite is Grüner Veltliner. An Austrian white. Fantastic pairing with my latest outing for oysters at Hog Island. ‘
Betty makes homemade zucchini bread, chocolate bread and lemon bread.
They will special order anything you want so you don’t have to go running all over town to find stuff you want. I’m a huge fan of Thomas Kemper Ginger Ale and they always have it on hand for me.
Definitely check out this gem of a specialty store.
06/18/2011 Shannon S. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
This place is just unbelievable!!! Talk about a hidden treasure!!! The beer selection is just great, we are esp. thrilled to have purchased an amazing black IPA. Additionally, Steve had recommened two wines, from Austria and Germany that were just perfect!!! And even better, his store has bounty candy bars and Haribo Roulettes!!! Steve is so friendly that it just makes the store that much nicer to visit!!! Well done!!!
06/07/2011 Michael F. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
This place is a gem! The beer selection is outstanding! The workers are super nice and helpful. The only thing that was rough was finding parking. This is my go to shop for my beer and I live in Redwood City!
05/17/2011 paul t. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
There are three neighborhood markets in this vicinity, two at the corner of Jackson and Fillmore, and this one, at Webster. This is the best of the three–the other two don’t compare and I wouldn’t even yelp them.
Ales Unlimited is small but has distinguished itself on several levels, specializing in a large selection of beers and a decent selection of wines. And, not only do they have the superior quality european-import Ritter chocolate bars (as opposed to the made-for-the-US variety) they also have Fentimans Ginger Beer and other Fentiman’s brand sodas–Fentiman’s being in my mind the ne plus ultra of Ginger Beers.
About that wine list: Most San Francisco markets, whether in the better parts of the TL or up in PacWhites still depend on the same national distributor for their wines, meaning they are top heavy on discount swill, and despite the tony addresses of some of the markets, the selection is still regrettable. Ales Unlimited is not a go-to wine store, but given this shortcoming of San Francisco’s neighborhood markets, it does have some better choices compared to so many other little stores.
All in all, when I’m working in the area I head here.
04/23/2011 jknight42 on RateBeer
Excellent selection but easy to miss. Looks like any old convenience store from the outside. But inside is a whole lot of awesome beer.
03/31/2011 Blanca M. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
This place is a beer lover’s dream come true. Unbelievable selection and very friendly staff. Steve, the owner, is a true teacher who loves to chat about beer and offer recommendations, depending on your tastes. He has yet to miss for me. The prices are very reasonable, too. It’s incredible he can compete with some of the big chains. A true gem this place.
03/08/2011 Paul C. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
These guys are great for a million reasons but the top 5:
– Fantastic beer selection
– Three Twins Ice Cream!
– Everyone who works there is super nice
– Did I mention the beer selection?
– They are open nice and late
10/09/2010 Danielle B. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
This place is pretty darn great. Great selection of beer, wine, snacks, etc. And the owner is a really nice guy who is clearly concerned with delivering good customer service and quality products. The prices do not seem inflated either.
08/19/2010 richard c. / Pittsburg, CA on Yelp
One of the BEST Corner stores i have ever been to, This is the place for the most exclusive of all beers. I cannot even explain what a amazing selection of beers he has in this place that puts every liquor store to shame and competes with BEVMO.
05/17/2010 L B. / San Francisco, CA on Yelp
As other reviewers note, Steve and Betty have transformed a tired shop into a great neighborhood market. It’s one of those few corner stores that stocks food and beverages worth stopping in for.
Steve, who grew up in Europe, brings in an ever-changing selection of rare and fantastic beers. Want one you’ve heard of but can’t find elsewhere? He will find it and bring it in just for you. And when he recommends one, try it – he can introduce you to great new stuff every week.
Betty, Steve’s wife, is always friendly, always ready to help you with the other delicacies (European cookies and chocolates, fresh sandwiches and other food).
Great to see this hard-working team building a good local business.
05/17/2010 Eddie H. / San Francisco on Yelp
This is not just another corner neighborhood market; the new owner goes all out to serve his customers. You would be amazed to see what you can find inside here. This store is extremely efficient (and clean) in terms of inventory and the owner takes the time to find out who you are and what you like. This store specializes in hard to find items, especially imports like Manner Hazlenut chocolate wafers, Samuel Smith Brown Ale just to name a few. The owner is amazingly accurate in his ability to make great suggestions for his customers and will turn you on to new items in no time.