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Charles Street Liquors

Not Rated.
Charles Street LiquorsCharles Street Liquors
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

56 Ratings
Ratings: 56
Reviews: 50
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.37%
[ Store ]

143 Charles St
Boston, Massachusetts, 02114-3252
United States
phone: (617) 523-5051

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 56 | Reviews: 50 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%

Charles Street Liquors was my first stop to find local beers in Boston. As it's on Charles Street not too far from the north station it's easy to get to if you're traveling. Of course, I was driving, and there's absolutely no parking near there! I made due.

I was impressed with the number of 6-packs they had, but I normally buy single bottles. They would not break up a six pack for me (...I found it on tap later that day!). The single bottle collection was pretty good too, but there wasn't a whole lot that I couldn't find in other parts of the east coast. Lots of good Belgians though. Decent Germans. I was looking for local though.

The store is well maintained, and very comfortable and easy to browse. The staff (I think I dealt with an owner, perhaps just a manager) know their products and what's going on in the market, and they're more than willing to assist customers who need help (unlike me)! ... ... (An aside... I found it interesting that the man I spoke with gave a 2-sided compliment/put-down to a local brewer as #1 - he had no idea who I was, and #2 - that should be some of their bread and butter, but that's not really the market they're interested in).

Had I known, however, what limited range of local beers I would encounter on my next 5 stops, I probably would have bought more - but even then, I did have that clock ticking on my illegally parked car!

Certainly worth a visit for beer, and don't forget that they do have a very good, expansive wine selection if you're headed out to a BYOB restaurant (Boston has many!). I certainly wouldn't pass it by.

Oh, and as to the dusty bottles mentioned earlier, yes, I saw them too and it kept me away from the Belgians. ... ... ... Why not just dust them off?

NeroFiddled, Jun 26, 2008
Photo of Lothore
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%

I went into this shop at the end of my trip expecting nothing and it ended up being the biggest selection of beer (at a store) that I had seen anywhere in Boston. Everything was sorted nicely and my only beef was that there seemed to be a thick layer of dust on a lot of their brews which really brought up the question of freshness in my mind. Despite that one detail, this was an amazing shop with quite reasonable price that carried everything from Alesmith to Weyerbacher to Achel and everything in between. If you are in Boston and looking for a stop to pick up some brews on the go you HAVE to check this place out.

Lothore, Jan 17, 2008
Photo of DoubleJ
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%

I had some time to kill on Christmas Eve before my plane departed, so I strolled along Charles Street in search of Charles Street Liquor. I felt I needed to take home another sample of beer home as a last-minute gift, and that I did (a bottle of Founders Red Rye). The selection is more focused on imports than domestic craft beers, but you can still come away with a 3 liter bottle of Double Bastard. The imported selection is diverse and evenly represented; I noticed a large number of German and English beers I've never heard of before. I was asked if I needed help a few times when I was debating what I wanted to take home with me. Multiple checkout registers help move the queue line fast, ending my BeerFly tour of Boston a little faster than I was expecting. Great place to stop at for beer if you're around the west part of the peninsula.

DoubleJ, Jan 02, 2008
Photo of papat444
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%

Well, i was a bit leary of going here as i got mixed reviews from people who had gone. First off, their specialties are Belgians & other imports. If you love Belgians, they have pretty much any you could want. Also, some uncommon ones, like Baltika or La Choulette. Service was friendly & excellent. Now, a couple of things.
1) some bottles are dusty (not all), & i saw at least one or two kinds of beer that were past the due date. So, inspect your beer before buying as i did.
2) While there's a good selection of US micros in cases, not much unfortunately in ways of singles as they don't allow broken cases.

All in all though, i would come again, but would not do my main beer shopping here though.

papat444, Aug 20, 2007
Photo of albern
4/5  rDev -1.2%

If you're in the neighborhood, this is about the best around the common/public garden area. Not the best in the metro area, but a very good selection on the shelf. The Belgians are there for the taking and there are plenty of others on the shelves. The refrigerated section isn't huge. Elm Street in Somerville is much better. Marty's in Allston is also better, but that one isn't laid out that well for my liking. You could do a heck of a lot worse that is for sure. The parking, yikes, I wouldn't even try. I only approach this one on foot.

albern, Mar 31, 2007
Photo of brentk56
2.4/5  rDev -40.7%

Is this what Boston has to offer?

Nice selection, but many of the bottles are dusty and well past their prime.

If one of our shops in North Carolina tried to pawn this off on their customers there would be hell to pay.

I saw a beer with a "Best by" date in 2005 and had another New England stout that had soured. I haven't tried the rest of what I had purchased but I hope it is better, but fear the worst.

On a subsequent visit in 2008 I asked whether the beer I was purchasing was fresh. I told them that I saw a beer with a brewed on date in 2001 and the clerk had the audacity to say, "Oh well, someone will buy it."

brentk56, Mar 02, 2007
Photo of Kudashov
3.3/5  rDev -18.5%

I did not come here to pick anyone's brain on beer when I was here . I just came in to pick up some of my favs like DFH 90 and some La Fin Du Monde . They have a decent selection and I was not even in there 5 min and I was asked if I needed help . Wish the beer selection was as big as the wine selection . The bottles are a little dusty . Parking around here can be a pain in the arse but you can take T and get off at Charles . It is right there , maybe a 100 yards . Not bad but it will not take the place of Marty's or Curtis for me .

Kudashov, Feb 21, 2007
Photo of Imstillthegman
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%

I made this one of my many stops while in Boston for the EBF. Good selection including many Belgians/imports, Stone, Founders, Oskar Blues, AleSmith, and the locals. I am still kicking myself for forgetting to grab a six-pack of Gordon....grrr. There is a parking garage pretty much right across the street from the store. There was some dust on some of the bottles I purchased but I am assuming it was just blowing in from nearby construction. Atleast, I don't think AleSmith would sit around long enough to get dusty. Mass. gets a lot of great beers and I wish I could of found a store that was large enough to have more of the offerings from all of those brewers. This was a good store with a good selection a little bigger than some of the other downtown Boston stores.

Imstillthegman, Feb 12, 2007
Photo of Naerhu
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%

This place was the best place for craft beer I found while in Boston.

The staff bent over backwards to answer my questions. They were available and amicable. If anything they were too eager to please, kinda felt weird. But things are good when thats ones biggest complaint.

The beer is located in the back of the store, with three or four doors of cooler space, lots of international beer being store at room temperature as well. There is a strong presence of German, British and Belgian beers. To be honest, I was kind of concerned about the room tempurature storage of these beers, but everything I bought from them was in perfect condition.

Naerhu, Jan 14, 2007
Photo of Gavage
3.7/5  rDev -8.6%

Stopped in as we passed it heading to the Red Line Charles stop. Nice selection of some beers I can not get in NJ like McNeill's, Newport Storm, and Middle Ages. Easy to view the selection of warm bottles on the left side of the store. Not a large selection by any means, but one that left me staring at a number of beers I haven't tried yet.

I picked up a few bombers and they were a bit pricey in my opinion. But then again this is city and I'm sure the store rent ain't cheap in this area.

The service was friendly, but not overly inquisitive of my staring at the selection of warm bottles for a few minutes.

Convenient if riding the Red Line. Worth a stop if you are not a Bostonian.

Gavage, Aug 02, 2006
Photo of jvdineen
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%

When I'm on my way to the Blue Line I'll make the detour and go to Juliana aka Charles St. Liquors. In the back of the store the entire left side is put aside for beer. 750 ml and bomber bottles dominate. They hold many beers from the Allagash, Unibroue, Weihenstephaner, Smuttynose and Cisco lines (among others). They have a "make your own six pack" of macros and some imports. Lots of German and Belgians to choose from. Prices are only slightly high. This is mainly due to their Beacon Hill locale. Very reccomended, very good.

They have a book that you can ask for certain beers. I've never tried it but it's out and free for anyone to use.

jvdineen, Apr 13, 2006
Photo of bignick
4/5  rDev -1.2%

This is definitely one of the better liquor stores in the Boston area. There is a very nice selection, especially of imports, and I like how the beer is divided by country. I do not like the lack American six packs. The options of cold sixpacks aren't as well-picked, IMOH, as at Bauer or Wine Gallery. The quality seems pretty high, on the whole, although there is the occasional old bottle to be found. I have never been offerred help while shopping, but when I have had a question the sale-people are helpful enough. This is a very good neighborhood store, and worth a visit if nearby.

bignick, Mar 03, 2006
Photo of MuddyFeet
3.55/5  rDev -12.3%

Stopped by a couple of times while in the neighborhood but most recently I swung by today while waiting killing some time in the neighborhood. The quality of the beers were solid. Everything I checked out was either in-date or reasonably so. However, there were a bunch of dusty bottles on the bottom shelf outside the cooler. Also, there were a few seasonls that were a bit out of season, but not too many.

Very nice selection. Not the most expansive in the Boston area, but definitely a good selection. Had a little bit of everything. Nothing too rare but all very sell-able beers with a few more eccentric Belgians and even American beers.

Service has always been the same everytime I have been in the store. I'll describe the most recent. I was in there for 15 minutes just poking around. There was a solid 5 minutes I was in the store by myself with only the sales clerk. However, he never approached me to see if I needed anything, I simply got a "Hey, what's up?" when I went to check out. That is barely average service and i give them the benefit of the doubt but this is not the first time I recieved such service.

I will definitely go back for the selection but not if I am looking for any assistance.

MuddyFeet, Feb 07, 2006
Photo of petemoss14
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%

This is where I go for those hard-to-find beers. Their selection consists mostly of individual bottles with a decent selection of sixers/fours in the cooler. This is one of the few places I have been able to find St. Bernardus Abt 12, but they have a nice selection of beers from all around the world, organized by geographic region.

Prices are decent, though there are a lot of things there that I know I can get for less someplace else. I also wonder about some of the dust in the beer area (it kind of has a cellar feel, even though you actually go up a step to reach it), but I haven't yet had a problem with freshness.

Service is fairly good -- I will usually be asked if I can be helped with anything, but this might be a result of how long I often take to browse. Asked once if they ever carry Abbaye des Rocs, and it took the guy a minute to figure out what I was talking about before he gave me a non-definitive answer.

A lot of people complain about the parking here. And while it can be difficult depending on the time of day, if you have an idea of what you are looking for, then you can just use the 15 minute parking in front of the CVS right around the corner. It is also right near the Charles St. T stop.

petemoss14, Jan 27, 2006
Photo of twelvsies
4/5  rDev -1.2%

Heard mixed reviews about this place, and while lost (I'm relatively new to the area) I found myself on Charles St and out of the corner of my eye I spotted the sign. So I parked (which wasn't really hard as lots of reviews say) and went in. They do have a pretty amazing selection. Lots of variety: Belgians, Germans, English, American, all the biggies are covered. They do a little beyond your above average beer store selection though. There are a lot of off the wall Belgians like stuff from De Proef that I don't see everywhere and am starting to like more and more. Also, a lot of Fantome and Cantillon, including seasonals and rarer stuff. Great selection of six packs as well from all over the country. I wanted to wait til after I'd drank some of the beers I bought here to review the place. I've heard a few complaints about old beers on the shelves, etc, but everything I got there was fresh.Service really isn't any help, but that to me isn't so important. Yeah, it's really nice when people go out of their way to come chat about beer, like at Bauer in Boston, and only a couple other places I've been (Premier in Buffalo), but I don't really need much help in a beer store anyway. The staff were all taking pictures of themselves drinking wine for Improper Bostonian or something, which was kind of funny. This place is a bit pricey. For example, $12+ for Fantome strikes me as a bit expensive. I usually find them for 8.99 or 9.99 most places. But, I guess you get what you pay for in that you can find almost anything you want at this place and now I feel confident that it's going to be fresh and healthy beer. Still, it's expensive. I like how the beer is in the back, away from the sunlight. All beer stores should do this. Definately a spot to check out if you're visiting the area, or if you live here. If you're still scared by the challenge of finding a parking spot, which is silly, it's super close to the Charles/MGH stop on the red line. Check it out.

twelvsies, Nov 28, 2005
Photo of kmo1030
4/5  rDev -1.2%

been here a few times now and i am finally sitting down to tell you what i think. this place has a very respectable selction of beer, the best within boston proper and only rivaled by downtown w&s in the area. lots of english imports good belgain selection and a wide selection of US beers available in MA. service is ok. no one spoke to me while i was browsing, but the guy working the register did strike up some convo about the NEBF when he saw what i was buying. qualitywise i passed up a couple selections because of the layer of dust on them. not thick, but made me think twice especially with the european imports. overall worth a try if your visiting boston, and a must try if you live in the area.

kmo1030, Nov 14, 2005
Photo of LPorter33
3.4/5  rDev -16%

Recommended by BeerPanther (thanks). As many have mentioned the selection here is astonishing. It's only rival in terms of quantity in the Boston area is Downtown Liquors in Somerville. While some of the imported bottles do have a thin layer of dust, my personal experience with the quality is good. I picked up a bottle of Anderson Valley Belk's ESB, a Thomas Hooker Octoberfast, and a few other pumpkin ales. Being in season, you'd expect the Fall beers to be fresh which they were. The dust covered bottles did look dubious though and I'd hesitate before purchasing them.

What I found extremely disappointing was the service. There were 2 employees stationed back near the beer coolers and not once did either of them ask me if I needed help. What I found even more disappointing though was that another customer was looking for a rare import and inquired about it to one of the employees. The employee responded that she "thought they had it" but didn' t know where it was. Rather then spending the time to help the customer, or try to find someone with more knowledge of the beer selection, she dismissed the customer and basically implied the customer was on her own. That's atrocious service.

Overall = The exceptional selection makes this place worth checking out. Just go in with what you already want in mind and don't expect to get any help or advice from the people inside.

LPorter33, Sep 22, 2005
Photo of Sycodrummer
3.35/5  rDev -17.3%

Certainly as many reviewers have said before, Charles St. boasts a huge selection of craft beer from all over the world. About six coolers worth house six packs from both American and International brewers. Brooklyn, Smutty, DFH, Geary's, Sam Adams, Ipswich, Harpoon, and a whole host of other American brewers plus imports along the line of Julius Echter, Bass, Guinness, Sam Smith, and many many others.

Also a vast selection of bombers from around the world. None of which are kept cold, and some of which have a healthy coat of dust on them. Delirium, many Trappists, Unibroue, Rogue, Stone, Berkshire, Ommegang, Old Rasputin, Smutty Big Beer, Old Speckeled Hen, and lots of others.

All in all, when it comes down to the beer, this place has a TON of it. Freshness is a bit shakey on some beers and service is all but non-existant.

Prices are reasonable, but can get a little high.

Sycodrummer, Sep 13, 2005
Photo of Boilermaker88
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%

Took a decent 2.5mi. walk from where I was staying for the ABF to get to Charles St Liquors. Almost walked past it as it blended in very well with the other stores and eateries in the neighborhood.
Once inside, I found the beers located in about half of the smaller back section of the store, sharing space with some varieties of champagnes. Charles St Liquors is primarily a wine and spirits store but still maintains an excellent selection of local beers and a great selection of foreign brews. Most imported beers were on shelves and not refrigerated. Some had built up quite a layer of dust on them. Did I mention it was kinda warm back where the beer was? It gave me pause for concern but after looking around for half an hour and marveling at the selection I threw caution to the wind and started loading my cart.
The selection of Euro beers was stellar, with some hard to find (for me) beers like Sinebrychoff porter and Aecht Schlenkerla's Rauchbier Weizen coming off the shelf and into my basket. I also went after some local brews - Berkshire's Lost Sailor IPA, DFH's ApriHop and 90 Min IPA - and would have gotten more if I had been able to break up a few 6-packs. They have a "make your own 6-er" area but when I picked up a bottle of Victory's Golden Monkey and saw the date was August 7, 2004 I decided against it. The staff might want to rotate out the beers that are ten months past prime.
The service was pretty much non-existent. Two people at the counter, I'm the only customer, in there for half an hour, and no one even asks if I need help finding anything. Given the obvious attention to the variety of beer they choose to carry, I'd think they'd also make sure the service could at least make an effort to be helpful.
In the end, I bought eight bottles and, fortunately, found a T station only about 100 yds away so I didn't have to hike back with all that brew. Charles St Liquors has an outstanding selection and I thought the prices were pretty fair. If they can improve the service, the store would be fantastic. Nevertheless, if you visit Boston, Charles St. Liquors is worth a stop.

Boilermaker88, Jun 28, 2005
Photo of IrishRedRock
4.05/5  rDev 0%

Had some time to kill in Boston, so upon hearing the selection at this place, I thought I would check it out for myself. Indeed, while mostly catering to the wine lovers, the beer selection packed into the small area in the back corner of the store is quite impressive. All the beers are very well organized by country of origin, and the selection of local/regional brews is nice. A lot of Berkshire and Smuttynose, in addition to other US Areas with the likes of DFH, Victory and Rogue.

They boast an interesting array of European beers, and I went straight after their English and Belgian selections. All 4 cask editions of JW Lees as well - this is the first place I have seen to have these. I picked up a bottle of the Lagavulin. So yes, the selection is extensive and varied, and they have a discount for mix-a-six...all good things.

Some reviews here list prices as being high...I can't compare them well to other prices in the Boston area, but I didn't think they were too bad. I got a sixer, 3 of which were bombers, for $18. Not bad.

Service was pretty much non existent. The guy at the counter was friendly enough but didn't go out of his way to see if I needed anything or to talk beer, etc. This doesn't bother me at all, but as far as rating service, I think it needs to be said.

All in all, a good place I would return to given the selection, and for the location. Step off the Charles Street red line stop and you see the door.

IrishRedRock, Feb 06, 2005
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%

A post Belgian Beer Festival jaunt to CSL was in order as we had time to kill and some good beer for AKSmokedPorter to purchase. Conveniently located within mere yards of the Red Line, CSL boasts an impressive, if not voluminous, selection of beers. Catering more to the wine crowd, there is still a respectful number of beers available. Many beers with various vintages available. There's a good representation of locals available here as well and that's always a good thing to see. One aisle of beers with coolers in the back for the cold "to-go" crowd. I didn't purchase anything this trip, but prices seemed only slightly higher than what I've seen in Richmond. I'll certainly be stopping here on my next visit to Boston.

OldFrothingSlosh, Nov 12, 2004
Photo of rousee
2.7/5  rDev -33.3%

I knew about this place for years but never went out of my way to go--until I learned they have an exceptionally good selection of beers.

I would still go here and would recommend it due to the huge selection--but each time I have been there, some member of the staff has slightly annoyed me. Most recently, it was a guy interrupting a conversation I was having with another shopper and beer enthusiast only to force their own opinions upon us as if they were undisputable facts.
Before that, it was just some harmless wise-ass sarcastic remark but when I am the customer and I don't know you--you don't do that.

Their prices are pretty Beacon Hill too--read overpriced. Again, I have to recommend it because of the huge selection and fairly easy location. Could be a lot better though.

Update from visit on 6/4/05---
The # of beers has decreased substantially. Noticeable dust on many of the bottles. This was always present here but its gotten worse.Who wants to buy a Christmas beer in early June? How bout one from England where it is bound to deteriorate versus improve due to a low abv or clear bottle. Staff has never been great here. Downgrades are in order across the board. Pricing is spotty -you can get a good deal on some things but other items are a tad higher than reasonable.

rousee, Oct 09, 2004
Photo of danadeny
4/5  rDev -1.2%

If you are looking for something you haven’t tried yet there is a good chance you will find it here. The selection is pretty big, and covers all areas of the beer spectrum. The service is okay, and the prices are reasonable. I did find some unique bottle sizes for the Belgian stuff. Particularly smaller serving that the standard 750ml in some cases. This I liked because I could sample more beers in the smaller form for the same money if I had to buy the larger bottles. I didn’t see any sales or promotional items. The glassware selection is pretty weak also. But overall a good selection and always a place to find some quality brew, they have something for everyone. Just don’t expect any bonuses.

danadeny, Jul 28, 2004
Photo of bigbeerdrinka
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%

There's not much I can't say about this place.. They have bottles of beer that I couldn't find anywhere else in boston, such as J.W. Lee's 1999 and 1998 harvest ales for 5.50 a bottle, Victory V10 and V12, a good selection of hard to find belgians, and much much more that I can't think of at the moment. Though the overall selection isn't as large compared to other places I've been to in boston, the quality of what they offer is uncontested. Though I didn't have too much time to chat with the workers, they seemed nice enough and knew their beer. They even through in 3 free beer glass because I bought $50 worth of beer.. (not a bad deal).. The one thing I will say is that I was definetly dissapointed with their glass selection (which was little to none), for I had heard that at one point they did have a great selection in this field. But the beer quality fully made up for this.

Overall, if you've never been, go right now.. You won't be dissapointed...

bigbeerdrinka, Jul 02, 2004
Photo of Hibernator
4.14/5  rDev +2.2%

Went to Charles Street Liquors after reading very positive reviews on BA. This is a great establishment for beer fans. Offerings from all over. Nice selection from Dogfish Head, Smuttynose, Rogue, Stone, Berkshire Brewing Company, and many, many other breweries.

I picked up a Rogue Old Crustacean Barleywine, Dogfish Head Mida's Touch and Dogfish Head Aprihop.

The service was friendly and helpful. Easy location from the T....Charles St off the redline or Park St and a scenic walk cutting up the common and crossing to Charles Street.

Hibernator, Jun 13, 2004
Charles Street Liquors in Boston, MA
91 out of 100 based on 56 ratings.