Traveling Tuesday: Shotwell’s Bar – San Francisco, CA

With this week’s Traveling Tuesday post, we are proud to welcome Jen Rizzo as a new contributor to Hoperatives. You may already be familiar with Jen since she is the designer of our wonderful Hoperatives logo and it actually Hoperative #1 (Tom is null and Carla is zero). Jen just launched her own beer blog called “Pedals and Pints” and will also be sending us her “Missives from the Mission” from time to time and letting us know about the great beer city that is San Francisco. Oh, and Carla actually got to go with Jen to Shotwell’s about a year and can vouch for its awesomeness.

In every town I have ever loved, I have chosen a bar. This bar will always be my go-to, and it usually corresponds to wherever I am in my life at that time. In Cincinnati, my bar was Arlin’s. The beer selection was good enough, but most importantly, it was four blocks from my college, had a giant patio, and provided me copious amounts of beer for next to no money. These are your priorities between the ages of 21 and 23. In New York, my bar was St. Mark’s Ale House. In Kansas City, I have an awful little dive bar with bottles of my favorite local beer and excellent dart boards. Here in San Francisco, though I flirted with another bar with cheaper pool tables for a couple ofmonths, my bar will always be Shotwell’s.

Shotwell’s is owned by my two very good friends David Hall and Tom Madonna. They’ve owned it for about four years now. San Franciscans probably remember that bar as a lot of things. Before this, under the same ownership, it was Inner Mission Beer Parlor. Then it was Two Thieves, then Shotwell 59, and a whole list of other things before that. It’s existed as Shotwell’s for a little over a year now, and I’m pretty sure that’s what it will be for quite some time.

They have 12 taps and a lovely, lovely bottle selection. Probably between 20-30 at any given time, despite their very small cooler behind the bar. (David and Tom’s organization of that space never fails to baffle me.) The taps remain pretty constant, though there’s been some variation over the years. The type of beer assigned to any particular tap is usually quite similar – David recently rotated in Speakeasy’s Payback Porter in place of the Anchor Porter, for example.
Anchor Steam and Anchor Liberty are always featured, and now that Anchor Humming is back, it’s taken the place of Duvel Green. Speakeasy’s Big Daddy, Stella Artois and Speakeasy Payback Porter are featured on the next bank of taps, followed by Paulaner Hefe-Weisse, Monk’s Cafe sour, Maredsous 10, Young’s Double Chocolate, Kronenbourg
1664 and Kostritzer Black. And if those aren’t enough for you, the bottle selection is guaranteed to make you pleased.

The best part about Shotwell’s is that it’s a neighborhood bar. And while it’s my favorite place in the city, it’s rarely a hugely crowded destination. You can usually find a spare stool at the bar to snag to watch a Giants game, or chat with Tom and David, or do your daily crossword puzzle without getting strange looks. (I speak from experience.) If you’re looking for entertainment, there are two impeccably kept pool tables toward the back, as well as two excellent pinball machines. The two televisions are visible, but not intrusive – only during super major sporting events does this turn into a hardcore sports bar.

It is my “Cheers” bar to a level I didn’t think really existed. I’ve always been a regular at places, but that has usually meant knowing the bartenders, getting a friendly smile, and having my friends know where it is without me having to send them a map link. Walking into Shotwell’s, I am always going to know someone. The regulars usually congregate toward the end of the bar, by the pool tables. And for the most part, there’s nothing cliquey about us. David likes to draw me into conversations with new friends of the bar when I’m sitting by myself. I’ve met some absolutely amazing people through this little place, and that’s what they wanted to happen. I heard for the very first time this weekend that most of their friends weren’t supportive when they bought the bar, and it shocked me. Imagine if your friends
scooped up a sort of seedy little place in the middle of San Francisco and announced that they were going to turn it into a Belgian beer bar – I might be a little skeptical too.

Tom and David have built the type of bar that I’d really love to own one day. I beertended there last Thursday for a couple of hours and it really felt like I was just pouring beer for my friends for three hours. Who knew you could make any money this way? (I’ve been doing this job for free for years!)

So, Cincinnatians, if you ever make it out this way, give me a shout. I’ll take you away from the super downtown scene and bring you out to my neighborhood. I’ll buy you a pint, “let” you beat me at a game of pool, and you’ll get to make a few new friends. My bar will be excited to meet you.

One Reply to “Traveling Tuesday: Shotwell’s Bar – San Francisco, CA”

  1. I haven’t even heard of this bar…partly because I have yet to spend enough time in San Fran. and partly because I just don’t live there ;)…BUT…

    Slightly on this subject though this city, the city of San Francisco is just incredible. In weather, food, and especially beer!

    The amount of craft brewers in the area is high and the way that people tend to take their food and beer is the way of serious passion. In my opinion one of the greatest places to have and to search for some serious craft beers.

    I’ve also noticed that they have a a lot of places that offer a lot of very hard to find craft brews on draft.

    I’ll have to check this place out next time I’m in town just per your recommendation. It sounds like a great place to enjoy a beer or 5 🙂


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