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Food & Drink

Best Beer-Drinker's Resource 

The Toronado

Regular stopovers at this Lower Haight watering hole are an education in both regional and international beer-making for the post-Miller generation. A call board above the bar lists 45 or so offerings on tap and hand pump, grouped by brewery (mostly local), and the selection generally includes both year-round local champs and hard-to-find seasonal offerings. Those with more far-searching desires pore over the chalkboard for the bottled offerings (heavy on Belgian ales -- the Toronado's specialty, if the place can be said to have one) but also featured are some local bottled-only varieties. Attitude behind the bar is mostly for show; the barstaff are both knowledgeable in what they're serving and generous in tasters to help you decide. While any night at the Toronado is likely to turn into a barley-breathed stumble home, frequenters will find themselves giving wine-brat friends a run for their money in the useless-knowledge-of-intoxicating-substances category. The annual barley wine festival draws heavyweight drinkers from far and wide to taste the year's most full-bodied beers, but the Toronado's real charm is its multitude of any-night choices in a category that's becoming less and less defined by the once-rote "a beer is a beer" critique.

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