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Bay Area beer tour, part 5: Vesuvio Café

May 18, 2011 By: mike Category: Craft beer, Favorite Bars, Travelin'

Vesuvio - exterior

Open every day of the year from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., the historic Vesuvio Café is one of the hippest places to grab a beer in San Francisco.

The cozy, North Beach bar was founded in 1948 by Henri Lenoir, who wanted to create “a bohemian meeting place for artists to come to life.”

The bar, which is just across an alley from the famed City Lights Bookstore, was once frequented by Beat Generation writers, including Jack Kerouac. In fact the alley was renamed “Jack Kerouac Alley” in 1988.

Vesuvio offers some nice regional brews on tap and in bottles.

I tried a pint of the Lagunitas IPA, which is brewed 40 miles north of San Francisco in Petaluma at Lagunitas Brewing Company. The IPA was really well-balanced, with moderate bitterness and hop flavor.

I also tried a Prohibition Ale from San Francisco’s Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. This American-style amber ale really surprised me. It was an aggressively hopped ale with a considerable amount of caramel maltiness. Great aroma and taste. The Prohibition Ale was “on special” but would soon be added to the regular beer list, our waitress said.

I grabbed a prime seat at Vesuvio upstairs, where you can enjoy an intimate conversation, check out the patrons at the downstairs bar below or look through the large windows at the people in Jack Kerouac Alley or walking along Columbus.

It’s the perfect place for people watching, sipping good beer and channeling the Beat Generation.

Vesuvio - signThis sign hangs outside from the second story of Vesuvio.

Vesuvio - barThe bar at Vesuvio.

Vesuvio - bar (long view)Another view of the bar.

Vesuvio - tableThe tables are way cool.

Vesuvio - upstairsUpstairs at Vesuvio, good conversation can be had.

Vesuvio - second floorLooking down from the balcony.

Vesuvio - end of the barCorner of the bar, from above.

Vesuvio - guest bottlesSome good beers on special at Vesuvio.

Vesuvio - neon signAnother version of the sign in the front window, neon-style.

Read other posts from the Bay Area beer tour series:

Part 1: Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse || Part 2: Jupiter brew pub || Part 3: Toronado || Part 4: Suppenküche

Next in the Bay Area beer tour: It’s Anchors away…