21st Amendment: Its name celebrates the repeal of Prohibition, so it's no surprise that 21st Amendment's brewpub is the opposite of a secret subterranean speakeasy: with its large windows, bright wood accents, and open floorplan, this South Park restaurant and microbrewery couldn't be more forthright about its upscale, beer-loving raison d'être. The taps here serve a variety of microbrew standbys (e.g., IPAs, porters, Belgian-style ales) as well as some beers (like the watermelon wheat ale) aimed at those with quirky and/or adventurous tastes. The menu, meanwhile, consists of fancified sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, steaks, and other staples. None of this comes cheap, alas — beers start at $7, burgers $10, and entrees $15 — but the happy, chatty crowds don't seem to mind. 563 Second St., 369-0900, 21st-amendment.com.
Amnesia: Dark red, hypnotic light helps this tiny bar live up to its name, and its tall stage features everything from '20s-themed nights and garage rock to bebop jazz and experimental electronica. There's no liquor, but intriguing soju cocktails and a well-chosen selection of microbrews are available if your inhibitions need loosening. Whether you're attending a comedy showcase, a literary reading, or a Gypsy dance party, however, make sure to arrive early — Amnesia fills up fast. 853 Valencia, 970-0012, amnesiathebar.com.
Amsterdam Cafe: It may not be flashy, glitzy, moody, or glamorous, but the point is to offer a respite from what the other watering holes in the 'Loin offer in spades. Amsterdam Café serves coffee and teas in addition to beer, wine, and Soju drinks. As if the tap selection weren't sufficient, the two chillers offer an exotic array of ales (the bar boasts that it pours 170 beers from around the country and the world). The wine selection doesn't match its beer brethren, but grape fiends won't leave thirsty. Between the art gallery walls, chill music, cozy seating, free WiFi, and again — that bottle list — there are myriad reasons to come here, kick back, and stay a while. 937 Geary, 409-1111, amsterdamcafesf.com.
Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant: The occasional jazz bands that play at the Beach Chalet may try valiantly to compete for attention with the Chalet's menu (full dinner served until 11 p.m.), handcrafted brews, and striking coastal view — but with vistas of the Pacific Ocean as epic as these, the musicians face a losing proposition. This is almost literally the last place on the West Coast to eat comforting yet contemporary New American cuisine (accent on the seafood) and sample some fine microbrews. The seaside theme is reflected in charming mermaid, seashell, and driftwood decorative accents throughout the beautifully restored dining areas. 1000 Great Highway, 386-8439, beachchalet.com.
Biergarten: Okay, so it's not much of a garden — more like a repurposed parking lot. But this outdoor drinking spot in the heart of Hayes Valley adopts some of the same German spirit as its "big sister restaurant" Suppenkuche, pouring extra-large drafts of dark European beer to crowds who sit at long communal tables and soak up the sun. 424 Octavia, biergartensf.com.
Church Key: If you like beer, the Church Key has your number. The seven-page menu offers beers from a rotating selection of brews from around the world, including a number of strong IPAs. If you're not looking to drop big dollars on ale, every night has a different $2 offering. There's a pub quiz on Tuesday nights (try the pot pie while you're working out your trivia muscles) and on Wednesdays the bar offers a two-for-one sausage deal. It's a small bi-level space with limited seating, so you'll have to jockey for space on the red leather benches on the weekends. 1402 Grant, 963-1713.
Clooney's Pub: Beer taps can't talk, but the lager nozzles at Clooney's would surely have some stories to recount. This stalwart Mission District dive has been serving cold beers and inexpensive well drinks to locals for years — it's seen the neighborhood transform, yet Clooney's remains mostly unchanged. Taking a seat on one of the stools surrounding Clooney's circular bar feels like going back to the Mission as it was in middle of the last century. Some of the regulars might even be the same. 1401 Valencia, 826-4988.
Edinburgh Castle: Although the fire marshal has put the kibosh on live bands, indie DJs still spin many nights at this dark, crowded, multi-tiered Scottish pub. If you're into hip retro Britpop or Mod soul — and love some fish 'n' chips with your stout — this is a good place to start your night. 950 Geary, 885-4074, castlenews.com.
Gestalt Haus: With an impressive beer selection of high-end imports and domestic craft brews as well as beers of the "blue collar" variety, the Mission District's Gestalt Haus caters to casual and serious beer drinkers alike. Gestalt has 20 beers on tap, including lagers, pilsners, porters, stouts, German wheat beers, and Belgian ales. It also has several kinds of steins from whence to swill, such as "das boot" reserved for Spaten, their Bavarian lager on tap. You can also find a variety of local flavors: Anchor as well as Downtown Brown, Racer 5, and the Lagunitas-brewed Sonoma Farmhouse Hop Stoopid. A casual place to lounge and booze, Gestalt's also the spot for a light nosh and nibble on sammies and brats. There are even meat-free Italian and Kielbasa sauages for vegetarians. The friendly bartenders will recommend which beers go best with your pork, chicken, or beef sausage. A comfortable spot with a jukebox, pool table, pinball, and arcade games. 3159 16th St., 655-9935, gestaltsf.com.
Hi Tops: In any other city, a gay sports bar might seem like a contradiction in terms — but here in the heart of the Castro, Hi Tops fits right alongside the gyms and fitness shops that cater to the buff local boys. A kitchen serving fancified versions of classic sports bar grub is also open until 10 p.m. if you want a grilled cheese to go with your ballgame. 2247 Market, 551-2500, hitopssf.com.