• Thirsty Bear tapas plate
  • Thirsty Bear tapas plate
  • Thirsty Bear tapas plate
  • Thirsty Bear tapas plate
  • Thirsty Bear tapas plate

CCOF Certifed Organic Brewery since 2007!!

  • 5.3 ABV Jonathan Fuller's winning recipe at the National Organic Home-Brewers Competition - Bugs and Cherries is a light belgian ale. We split the batch between American oak barrels inoculated with brettanomyces bruxellensis and French oak barrels inoculated with brettanomyces clausenii. The beer has been aging for eight months. Two months ago we added 40 pounds of cherries.
  • ThirstyBear Grizzly Bear Red Ale 14.5 OG / 33 IBU / 6.3% ABV Hoppy American "Red" Ale with all local finishing hops from Hopmeister Farms
  • ThirstyBear Howard Street IPA 17.5 OG / 65 IBU / 7% ABV The india pale ale is our strongest house ale brewed with copious amounts of American hops to highlight their resinous, piney, citrusy flavors and aromas. Nuff said.
  • ThirstyBear Koslov Stout 14.5 OG / 35 IBU / 6.3% ABV Black ale the color of midnight, due to being brewed with black malt, chocolate malt and roasted barley. Flavors of espresso coffee and bittersweet chocolate accentuated by a smooth mouthfeel provided by the classic nitrogen pour.
  • ThirstyBear Meyer ESB 15 OG / 30 IBU / 6.4% ABV Our interpretation of the great British extra special bitter, but offered with the twist of a cascading nitrogen pour! It is a harmonious blend of caramel malt flavors with floral hop aromas, complemented by the smooth nitro mouth feel. A house favorite.
  • 11 OG / 15 IBU / 4.5% ABV A unique ale, lightly hopped and easy drinking, but “dry-hopped” with pounds of whole vanilla beans and now TCHO cocoa nibs to infuse the beer with flavor and provide an incredibly aromatic sensation.
  • ThirstyBear Polar Bear Pilsner 13.5 OG / 35 IBU / 5.7% ABV A golden, bohemian-style pilsner brewed with munich malts and generous portions of “noble” Czech saaz hops for a spicy finish, then fermented cool with our house lager yeast strain.
  • 13.8 OG / 15 IBU / 5.6% abv A traditional Bavarian, rye ale similar to Bavarian hefe-weizen that the wheat malt is replaced by rye malt. Fermented with Bavarian heffeweizen yeast.
  • ThirstyBear Valencia Wheat 12 OG / 17 IBU / 5% ABV Our wheat beer brewed in the belgian-wit tradition, including unmalted wheat and spiced with coriander and orange peel. Added complexity provided by our house belgian yeast blend after its characteristic high fermentation temperatures.

Philosophy

The original concept for ThirstyBear Brewing Company is simple: to pair the ultimate social beverage, beer, with the ultimate social food, tapas. I, Ron Silberstein, founder and original brew master, envisioned a space that combined artisan, hand-crafted beers with artisan Spanish cuisine – a cuisine that could never be confused with pub grub or typical brewpub food.

We have beers for everyone; but not every beer is for anyone! The majority of our styles are appropriate as session beers, beers that beg the drinker to have more than one, beers that are anchored in traditional but ferment innovation. Some of our ThirstyBear beers are designed to push the envelope of flavor and style well beyond the session beer. ThirstyBear offers the beer drinker traditional beers, unique interpretations of traditional beers and wholly unique beers. Our ingredients must respect our earth and our bodies. Thus we are San Francisco's first and only CCOF certified organic brewery. Our beers are good for you and growing those grains and hops did not pollute the earth or the farm workers with chemicals, pesticides and petroleum based fertilizers.

The craft beer industry thrives when united and mutually supportive – a rising tide raises all boats. For that reason ThirstyBear is proud to have hosted the first meeting of what is now the vibrant, collective and cooperative San Francisco Brewers Guild. Together we, the breweries of San Francisco, promote craft brewing in Bay Area and beyond.

History

Since my first home brew many years ago, I’d been dreaming of opening a brewery. I had no idea if that dream would come true or if it did what I’d call it, but I was open to naming my dream. One summer Sunday in 1991 I was reading the San Francisco Chronicle. A head line in the front section blazed into my brain: Thirsty Bear Bites Man for Cold Beer. After reading about the Bear biting Victor Kozlov’s hand to get a cold beer, I knew that story would be the name of my dream. The article, neatly cut out, lived on my refrigerator door for the next five years until I gave it greater purpose by opening ThirstyBear Brewing Company. You are looking at the original cut out article. Victor Kozlov’s sacrifice of his hard earned beer to the Bear has earned him immortal status in our house beer, Kozlov Stout.

Tasting Beer with Master Brewers Brendan and Ron! more videos »

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Ron Silberstein

Ron Silberstein
Head Brewer

To put it succinctly, I was a practicing immigration attorney when my home brewing hobby spun out of control and exploded into ThirstyBear Brewing Company.

I started home brewing at University of Massachusetts, Amherst shortly after it became legal in 1978 to home brew. My relationship to Spanish cuisine began when I lived in Madrid, Spain for two years after my UMass brewing days. I have been connected to Spain ever since. I came to San Francisco from Madrid in 1986 and continued brewing at UC Hastings, San Francisco while studying law. I kept on brewing while practicing immigration law. I served many a home brew to my friends and immigration law colleagues during the first half of the 1990s. When brew-pubs started to take off in the early '90s, I decided to ditch billable hours and ride the wave of brewpub openings. I put together a business plan and took the first Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering diploma course offered by the American Brewers Guild.

I was incredibly fortunate to study there under the preeminent brewing scientist, Dr. Michael Lewis of UC Davis. With my business plan in hand and my diploma from the Guild, I miraculously put together a group of investors who were crazy enough to believe this lawyer turned brewer could run a successful brewery restaurant. I could not have done it without my family, friends, my first business partner, Raggi Lorentzen and all of the people who have subsequently worked at the Bear. Thus, I opened the doors to ThirstyBear Brewing Company on September 13, 1996.

Brenden Dobel

Brenden Dobel
Brewmaster

I believe my appreciation for good beer and beer culture began at an early age due to the opportunity of living in Europe in my youth. In this part of the world, various interpretations of beer,wine or spirits has led to distinct regional cultures. My mother is also German, so at an early age I knew the difference between a Pilsner and an Export for example. Both brewed by our local brewery Parkbrau in the southwest of Germany! Upon returning to San Francisco in the early Eighties I was disappointed by the lack of truly good beer in America, but fortunately my father enjoyed Anchor Steam and Rainier Ale, beers he considered to have flavor and that I could steal from the fridge. This dearth in flavor seemed to be the norm across the land regardless whether it involved beer, bread or cheese.

In 1992 I graduated from St. Mary’s College in the East Bay where like most college experiences it was about quantity over quality (in terms of drink!). If I did manage to scrap some money together there was Devil Mountains Railroad Ale from Walnut Creek for example. I also remember my uncle introducing me to Mendocino Red Tail Ale, which came in a champagne bottle, had yeast suspended in the bottom and was endlessly fascinating to me. The American Craft Beer Revolution was afoot and creeping into my consciousness!

After college I began home brewing, delving deeper into the history and traditions, the secrets and magic of beer, tasting as many new beers as possible and visiting every brewery I could, no matter where I was. In 1996, I put away my tie, walked out of my work cubicle and got a job installing and cleaning tanks for the short lived Monterey Brewing Co. I had joined the Revolution at last! I subsequently attended the American Brewers Guild "Craftbrewers Apprenticeship Program" in the spring of 1997. I had the opportunity to serve my apprenticeship at Tabernash Brewing Co. in Denver Co., which focused on German-style beer, most notably their highly regarded Weiss, a true Bavarian-style Hefeweizen. The brewmaster was American Weihenstephan graduate Eric Warner who also authored the Brewers Publication book "German Wheat Beer." I also chose to serve there due to the fact that a college friend and I had started a contract brewing company called Reccow Brewing Co. with the intention of opening a brewpub highlighting continental-style beers rather than British-style ales, which were prevalent at the time. We brewed the Fest beer and Premium Lager for the Bay Area market. The beers were brewed at (in chronological order) San Andreas Brewing Co., Carmel Brewing Co. and Coast Range Brewing Co., all of which have passed into the annals of brewing history.

The company decided that I should continue my brewing studies(since we hadn’t opened yet) and shop around for beautiful German engineered brewing equipment at the same time, so I signed up for Doemans Brewing Academy’s "International Course in Brewing Technology" in Munich. There I was joined by brewers from Africa, Israel, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Croatia, U.S. and Canada. After finishing the course I managed to land a journeyman position at Graminger Weissbrauhaus in Alt Otting, deep in the Bavarian heartland. From there I traveled north to the Franconian brewing town of Bamberg, a World Heritage Site and home of the unique Rauchbier style. I alternated between working at Brauerei Faessla and Weyermann Malting Co. which were in walking distance from each other. Kaspar Shulz, which manufactures incredible copper brewing equipment, was also near by. I finished my journey at Gasthausbrauerei Leuchturm in Gunzenhausen, near the Spalt hop growing region. This brewpub was recently built from the ground up and no attention to detail was overlooked and what I hoped our future brewpub would look like.

I had spent about a year in Bavaria, when I returned the company made an ill fated attempt to re-open a brewpub in San Francisco that had claimed bankruptcy, but due to too many complexities the project failed and we closed Reccow Brewing Company in 2000. I managed to jump on board with Noah Berry at his Broken Drum Brewery and Wood Grill in San Rafael where I got to brew like an American brewpub craftbrewer should. Ales, lagers, Belgians, hybrids, whatever the imagination or desire dictated! In 2002 I was invited to brew for the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company in my home-town San Francisco. This is a unique brewpub that serves Spanish cuisine, has nine beers on tap (including cask conditioned ales), extensive wine and spirits list and even puts on live Flamenco shows! It has been here that I’ve been allowed to express myself as a brewmaster and am constantly striving to create another incredible beer experience, with whiskey and wine barrel aging being a current focus. We also explore the pairing of food and beer by hosting our "Brewery Cellar" dinners in the brewhouse itself. In July of 2003, Thirsty Bear hosted the first official meeting of the current San Francisco Brewers Guild to get it organized and it has been going strong ever since. In 2007, I facilitated our organic certification process through the CCOF, making Thirsty Bear the first certified organic brewery in San Francisco, in accordance with our green philosophy. In 2010 I successfully passed the rigorous exam to become a Certified Cicerone, which is to beer what a sommelier is to wine.

So that was the past and here’s to the future! Please stop by the Thirsty Bear Brewing Co. for a hand-crafted, organic beer some time and tell me YOUR beer story!