Minnesota Liquor Stores

My thoughts on the local liquor stores I have patronized.

Big Top Liquors – Though I entered the St. Paul store assuming I was walking into another cheap big chain outlet store having little faith I would have many options to choose from that idea was quickly discarded as I gazed upon the rows of cooled shelves stacked with brew. Though as one can assume most of their stock is crap beer they have an entire wall length of craft beer that is cooled and includes many bombers as well as a nice assortment of 6-packs. Mixed in with the crappy beer you will find some good stuff including our beloved Surly Brewing as well as a solid rack of room temperature 750’s and other Imported beers. There is also plenty of liquor and wine available and darn reasonable prices. If it wasn’t so far away I would likely frequent it often, nice surprise.

Broadway Liquor Outlet – Located just off of W Broadway Ave and Penn Ave N on a little street called McNair Ave N. Recently started stocking more craft brew including Surly, Avery, Moylan’s and a few other brews on a couple of small room temperature shelves they recently repurposed. Noticed some Bells in the cooler as well as a couple other craft brews but currently a rather limited selection in those terms. Plenty of macrobrews, wine and liquor available.

Chicago Lake Liquors – Probably the cheapest liquor store in Minneapolis. Located on Chicago and Lake Street this store is big. Plenty of wines and spirits but not the best place to go for craft beer because your selection will be quite limited. Numerous fridges a few that contain good craft beer, mostly domestic. The rest is cheap beer, lots of it cold in the may fridges that line the back walls. Other large cases of beer are available warm. If you like scotch go buy some Glenlivet from them, its the cheapest place in the nearby cities you can get it ($24.99 12 year 750ml.) Over all not a good place to buy craft beer, but they sure stock a lot of booze and the prices are about as friendly as they come.

Edina Liquor – The city of Edina runs their 3 municipal liquor stores and controls their market but does so quite reasonably. Conveniently their stores tend to have reasonable prices and a decent selection of craft beer as well as plenty of wine and liquor. Though the selection of good beer isn’t fantastic they tend to have your staples and the last few times I’ve been to the one near Southdale I have found interesting seasonals and special releases I couldn’t help but grab.

France 44 – This store located on 44th and France in Minneapolis is decently large and has a cheese shop attached that according to the bike rack ATM (7/1/08) gives 10% off cheese purchases to bicyclists. Lots of wine and hard alcohol, a good sized walk in fridge with domestic craft beer as well as some cheap stuff. Many other fridges line the walls with imported and domestic beer, kegs are also available for order. They also offer mixed 6-packs but don’t tend to have a ton of beers to choose from, though the selection does rotate. Over all selection is pretty good but prices are a bit above normal, not terrible though. They also have a buyers club where you can earn gift certificates, seems you have to buy a lot to get anything out of it, but if its in your area its a pretty good place.

Franklin Nicollet Liquor – This casino, I mean liquor store is very difficult to miss with its large drive through sign and flashing lights. Conveniently located just south of Franklin Ave on Nicollet Ave near Downtown Minneapolis. This somewhat small store stocks plenty of liquor and I think I remember seeing some wine. There are a number of options when it comes to craft brew, but not much. I happily picked up some Brau Brothers last time I was there but their stock of quality brew is confined to less than two fridges or so. Macrobrew is relatively plentiful but prices on everything including 40 oz’s are a bit steep.

Hennepin Lake Liquor – Located on Emerson and Lake Street in Minneapolis, in the heart of uptown. This is a decently sized store carrying some wine, hard liquor and a decent selection of beer, largely domestic but some imported bottles. Hen Lake has a very good selection of a few domestic brands and pretty reasonable prices. They have a number of fridges to keep your beer cold and sell a few singles which I suppose is helpful if you don’t want to invest in a whole pack. Over all a good store, they only accept cash.

Hi Lake Liquors – Located Just before Hiawatha Avenue when headed eastbound on Lake Street. Though not the place I would traditionally go to find some craft brew I was pleasantly surprised having a number of brews to choose from in their large coolers that line the wall including Surly. Further back in another small cooler full of single bottles, mostly larger than 12oz and was happy to find a number of craft brews available at pretty reasonable prices, including some Lagunitas and various imports. Plenty of liquor available as well as macrobrew particularly in their large walk in cooler. More selection than I expected, not a bad place if your in the area, but certainly not a craft brew paradise.

Sinful Wine & Spirits – A family run liquor store in Bloomington in the Southtown shopping center. Stopped by this place on a recommendation from a friend after seeing their make your own six packs. This stores walls are lined with wine and many spirits. In the back there is a walk in fridge that has a quite limited selection of beer in packs, but has an entire wall of single bottles. Definitely the largest make your own six pack variety I’ve yet to see, decent price too and most importantly cold! They have tastings every Thursday, what they sample varies and they would like you to RSVP.

Sorella Wine & Spirits – Located on 10th and Washington Avenue in Downtown Minneapolis. This store stocks a very large variety of wines, a small number of spirits, mostly smaller flasks, and has a great beer fridge even if its a bit small. The selection isn’t the largest but the choices are great. Some mass market stuff but mostly craft beer. Said to be a family business.

South Lyndale Liquors – Located on 53rd Street and Lyndale Avenue in Southwest Minneapolis. This store has a large variety of wines and it is apparent that wine is what they are catering to. Though they actually have a very wide selection of craft beer available I was rather disappointed by their prices. Prices weren’t absurd but certainly higher than many stores and what peeved me the most is they were selling Surlyfest for over 10 dollars though the rest of the Surly’s were only $9.99. Sure one may suggest this is no big deal, particularly as it is a limited release (and sadly gone as of me writing this [10/21/08]) but come on, every other store sells it for the same price so don’t be a bitch. As I said I was actually impressed with their selection but they will really have to work on their price point for me to ever patronize them regularly.

Surdyk’s Liquor – Claims to be the largest liquor store in the Midwest since 1934 and may just be. Surdyk’s is something like a imbibers Disneyland with rows and rows of wine, liquor and most importantly beer. With a massive wine and liquor selection you will likely be able to find whatever your liver desires. The beer selection is very nice and includes much craft brew and many imports but their stock isn’t always the most reliable. A nice full wall of fridges keeps a bit under a third of thier selection cold though close to half of that is macrobrew. Convieniently located just north past the Hennipen bridge Surdyk’s has quite a bit to offer thier customers including a nice cheese shop, deli and cigar shop. Prices are a bit above average but the selection is solid and they offer kegs if that’s what your looking for.

The Four Firkins – Minnesota’s 1st specialty beer store. This small store located in St. Louis Park on Texas and Minnetonka blvd is fantastic. Shelves are filled with domestic and imported craft beer. From Avery to Westmalle, Flying dog to classic Minnesota Surly. Prices are reasonable and the selection is killer. Alvey (the owner) has one two door fridge so along with all the beer on the shelves you can pick up some cold brew. Also avalable are choose your own mixed 6-packs which is always a nice option. So far The Four Firkins has also been offering many tasting and “Beer Evangelist” classes (see website for details), who can complain about free beer and potentialy a new found love. Go check it out and give Alvey your money and get some beer.

Zipp’s Liquors – Located on 26th and East Franklyn Avenue this is one large store. Wine and hard alcohol is avalable as well as a mariad of domestic and imported beers. Many of which line a few shelves in the middle of the store, others avaiable in the many fridges located in the back of the store. Simply their selection is rather impressive, but perhaps a bit overwhelming with good looking craft beer all over the place as well as cheaper stuff if thats what your looking for. Zipp’s offers mixed 6-packs with an OK variety. Prices seem reasonable and they also offer kegs.