Born Out of the Commitment to Support Sustainable Agriculture.

ThirstyBear Organic Brewery is the first and only brewery in San Francisco to brew certified organic beer and become a certified Green Business. Born out of Founding Brewmaster Ron Silberstein’s longstanding commitment to support sustainable agriculture, ThirstyBear brews CCOF and FDA certified organic beer with the finest hops and grains. ThirstyBear sources its ingredients from the world’s most renowned malt houses and premier West Coast organic hop farms to distinctly pair their craft beers with its exquisite Spanish cuisine.

“The first and only brewery in San Francisco to brew certified organic beer…”

For more than a decade, Silberstein has collaborated with Brewmaster and Certified Cicerone Brenden Dobel to define a singular German-influenced West Coast style of brewing, with a special emphasis on pilsners, IPAs, stouts, Belgian-inspired ales, cask conditioned ales, session beers, and barrel aged brews.

As one of the first critically acclaimed Spanish tapas restaurants to open in the Bay Area, ThirstyBear’s current Executive Chef Robert McCarthy turns out some of the city’s top paella, small plates, flatbread pizzas, 100% grass-fed beef burgers, elevated pub classics and specialty dishes cooked not only with beer, but with beer’s raw ingredients (hops, malts, yeast).

ThirstyBear organic craft beers are available fresh, only on draught, only at ThirstyBear!


Ron Silberstein

Owner & Brewmaster

ThirstyBear Organic Brewery’s Master Brewer & Founder, Ron Silberstein, established ThirstyBear after his love for home brewing spun out of control. Silberstein first experimented with home brewing in 1980, while attending the University of Massachusetts, Amherst -- shortly after home brewing was legalized. While living in Madrid after college, his fascination with exquisite Spanish cuisine was born, especially the pairing of beer and tapas. To this day, he and ThirstyBear maintain a strong connection to Spain. In 1986, Silberstein moved to San Francisco to study law at UC Hastings, a time when he was extensively home brewing.

In the early ‘90s just as brewpubs started to take off around the country, Silberstein decided to hang-up the billable hours as an immigration attorney and ride the emerging waves of the craft beer movement. He brewed, studied, researched, brewed some more, put together a business plan and took the first Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering diploma course offered by the American Brewers Guild. It was there that he had the incredibly fortunate opportunity to study under the preeminent brewing scientist, Dr. Michael Lewis of UC Davis.

With his business plan, brewing diploma, a bit of luck and an ambitious vision to open the first brewery-restaurant in San Francisco to give equal artisanal focus to both food and beer, he doggedly put together a group of investors who believed in his passion for craft brewing and Spanish tapas. ThirstyBear Brewing Co. opened its doors on September 13, 1996, all of which could not have been possible without the support of Silberstein’s friends, family, and first business partner, Raggi Lorentzen.
ThirstyBear Organic Brewery is the first, and still the only, brewery in San Francisco to brew certified organic beer (since 2007) and is the oldest brewery-restaurant in San Francisco.

Brenden Dobel

Head Brewer

Craft beer has played a prominent role in Brenden Dobel’s life, the Brewmaster at ThirstyBear Organic Brewery. During Dobel’s early years, he lived in Europe where various interpretations of beer, wine and spirits have led to distinct discoveries of regional cultures.

Dobel’s parents helped shape his singular interest with beer from the start. His German mother taught him the difference between a Pilsner and an Export. His father enjoyed Anchor Steam and Rainier Ale, both treats at a time (‘80s) when very few craft beer options were available in America. During his college years at St. Mary’s College, the typical scenario of valuing quantity over quality persisted. But Dobel was on a mission to find exceptional beers such as Devil Mountains Railroad Ale (Walnut Creek) and Mendocino’s Red Tail Ale, which came in a champagne bottle with yeast suspended in the bottom and was endlessly fascinating to him.

After graduating college, Dobel became fully immersed in the craft beer world. He started home brewing to delve deeper into beer’s history and traditions, tasting as many new beers as possible and visiting as many breweries around the world. He soon began working at various breweries such as the short-lived Monterey Brewing Company, Tabernash Brewing Company in Denver, CO (focusing on German-style beer), and even his own, Reccow Brewing Company. His ambitions were to open a brewpub highlighting continental-style beers rather than British-style ales, which were prevalent at the time.

Before officially opening, Dobel decided to continue his studies at Doemans Brewing Academy’s "International Course in Brewing Technology" in Munich, Germany and shop around for beautiful German engineered brewing equipment. While in the program, he was joined by brewers from Africa, Israel, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Croatia, U.S. and Canada. After finishing at Doemans, he landed a journeyman position at Graminger Weissbrauhaus in Alt Otting, and traveled around Germany working in many different breweries.

Unfortunately, Reccow Brewing Company closed in 2000. Soon after though, he took a job with Noah Berry at his Broken Drum Brewery and Wood Grill in San Rafael, CA and was finally able to brew like an American brewpub craft brewer should.

In 2002, he was invited to brew for ThirstyBear Brewing Co. in his hometown of San Francisco. At ThirstyBear, Dobel has creative control to present an incredible craft beer experience, with whiskey and wine barrel aging programs a current focus.

Along with Owner and Head Brewer Ron Silberstein, ThirstyBear and Dobel hosted the debut official meeting of the San Francisco Brewers Guild (est. 2003). In 2007, Dobel facilitated the organic certification process through the CCOF, making ThirstyBear the first (and still only) certified organic brewery in San Francisco, in accordance with the brewery’s green philosophy. In 2010, he successfully passed the rigorous exam to become a Certified Cicerone (which is to beer what a sommelier is to wine).

At ThirstyBear, Dobel has steadily defined a standout German-influenced West Coast style of brewing, with a special emphasis on pilsners, IPAs, stouts, Belgian-inspired ales, cask conditioned ales, session beers, and barrel aged brews.

Rob McCarthy

Head Chef

ThirstyBear Organic Brewery’s Executive Chef Rob McCarthy utilizes a mastery of raw ingredients to inform his artisanal menus. An award-winning pastry chef and 20-year veteran home brewer, McCarthy brings an expertise of ingredient forward recipes and craft beer pairings to the forefront of ThirstyBear’s exquisite Spanish Cuisine. The bounty of seasonal offerings from California’s small family farms, ranchers and fishermen truly inspire McCarthy’s creative tapas. Whole animal butchery and house made charcuteries, as well as doughs and desserts made from scratch are in regular menu rotation.

McCarthy’s passion for distinctive craft beer and food pairings initiated his partnership with ThirstyBear’s founding brewmaster and owner Ron Silberstein. McCarthy’s ultimate goal is for each menu item to coalesce with rotating seasonal brews, cask conditioned ales, barrel aged beers, and year-round brewery favorites. McCarthy’s culinary curiosities have also led to delectable new dishes comprised of ingredients used in brewing beer (malts, hops). From malt extract in the empanada dough, cascade hops in the salmon cure, to beer yeast starters leavening bread doughs, he’s always working on innovative applications.

McCarthy’s love of cooking has roots dating back to the late ‘80s while attending Salisbury State (University of Maryland). He began cooking out of necessity to help pay college tuition. Although he didn’t graduate, his work at The Atlantic Hotel (Berlin, MD, 1991 - 1992) is where he cultivated a singular infatuation for refined food preparation. In 1994, McCarthy left his home state of Maryland for San Francisco, CA.

From 1994 through 2002, McCarthy worked at various acclaimed San Francisco eateries, including being Chef at Icon, Val 21, and Sous Chef at Kuletos to develop their charcuterie program. Following Kuleto, McCarthy became Banquet Chef at Campton Place cooking alongside Chef Laurent Manrique. Consecutively, he did a three-month stint at One Market with Kuleto’s Pastry Chef Tim Grable. He later landed as Head Pastry Chef at Restaurant Lulu.

McCarthy relocated to Denver, Colorado from 2002 to 2011 where he owned a wholesale and retail bakery. He went on to cook at The James Beard House (2003) as the Pastry Chef of Mel’s Bar and Grill (Denver, CO). In 2003, he won “Second Place” in the Professional Chefs Association’s Pastry Masterpiece Competition. In 2011, McCarthy won “Best Dessert” and “Best Overall” at The Great Chefs of the West Competition.

In 2011, McCarthy met Ron Silberstein while attending the Great American Beer Festival (Denver, CO). He returned to San Francisco in 2014 to become Executive Chef of ThirstyBear. In 2015, McCarthy was selected to represent the Bay Area as the only local chef partaking in American Lamb Board’s “Brews, Ewe’s, & BBQ’s” event.

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