Thousands of good, long nights have been spent at the Crest Tavern, and here's why: You walk in on a cool Thursday with Steppenwolf's "The Pusher" playing from a jukebox that's good and loud, a bar stool waiting and a table of sun-kissed regulars joking raucously over a nearby game of nickel Hold 'Em.

Thousands of good, long nights have been spent at the Crest Tavern, and here's why: You walk in on a cool Thursday with Steppenwolf's "The Pusher" playing from a jukebox that's good and loud, a bar stool waiting and a table of sun-kissed regulars joking raucously over a nearby game of nickel Hold 'Em.

On your way in, you've already passed the hand-lettered sign in the parking lot that reads: Strong beer is the milk of the old.

Doesn't make too much sense. Doesn't have to. The Crest, like many of the city's no-frills watering holes, has its own sort of streamlined logic.

The thinking, of course, is that beer is good, affordable beer is better and drinking with friends is just about the best thing going. If you're tired of waiting for a bartender to make a tray of cosmopolitans - or sick of a bar that uses trays - head to the Crest, one of Clintonville's best neighborhood joints.

The majority of the action happens in the front room, which features a long wooden bar and several red leather booths that appear to be stolen from a diner in Kansas circa 1959. On special nights, there'll be a wooden bowl full of individually wrapped suckers and peppermint candies. The jukebox is one of the top in town, and a lively jazz jam happens Monday night.

More active drinkers tend to hit the back room, home to a pair of foosball tables and the best dart room on Indianola Avenue. A line of well-spaced boards is placed along the wall, giving plenty of room to hash out a heated game of 501 without impaling foot traffic.

With a dedicated crop of regulars and many visits from those looking for an easy night out, the Crest is a lot like Cheers - sans the pretentious shrink. Its only drawback is the 1 a.m. daily closing time.

American lagers are a common sight, but the Crest also serves an interesting set of microbrews and imports. Domestic bottles cost $2.25, with a wide range of imports starting at $3.50. A sampling:

Bottles

Abita Purple Haze

Warsteiner

Saranac Pale Ale

Anchor Steam Beer

Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss

Drafts

Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale

Guinness

Hoster Gold Top

Bell's Two-Hearted Ale