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Charles Street Liquors

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

57 Ratings
Ratings: 57
Reviews: 50
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.12%
[ 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: 57 | Reviews: 50 | Display Reviews Only:
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 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 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 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 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 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 rhinos00
3.65/5  rDev -9.9%

This place is located in a beautiful area of Boston. However, that did not take away from the fact that I was pretty disappointed in this store...I think this may have a lot to do with how spoiled I have been with stopping at some of the best beer stores in various other states (i.e. Indiana, Ohio, New York, Julio's in MA).

Anyways, CSL had a terrible appearance. Everything on the shelves was cluttered and coated with lots of dust. There were a few harder to find beers, such as Ten Fidy, Deus, Ten, and others which offered somewhat of a bright spot. The selection was rather small as well. Basically a refrigerated section and another section with bottles that may be would comprise a small aisle at a local liquor store. I gave the service a good mark solely because it didn't seem like there were that many employees and the ones that were there probably couldn't leave the cash registers.

Overall, if I lived in this area, it might be a place I would stop in to do some beer shopping. However, as a person that does not frequent this area of the U.S. often, I would not waste my time here with likes of Julio's not too far away.

rhinos00, Feb 19, 2009
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 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 mltobin
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%

This place is conveniently located on Charles Street in downtown Boston, not too far from the hospital area where I was staying with a friend. It is a relatively small store in general for wine/liquor/beer and the craft beer section also is small. But, they do make a very good use of their space. You can pick up some Belgian classics like Chimay and other trappist beers. Mass beers like Haverhill and Mayflower. Other US craft beer such as Port, McNeill`s, White Birch. The staff I came across were friendly enough, but did not all seem well versed in their offerings. Prices were better than I expected for the great location, where other things can tend to cost a pretty penny.

mltobin, Aug 07, 2011
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 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 tigg924
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%

I went to Charles Street Liquors yesterday for the first time in about a year and have to say I was a bit disappointed. This used to be the place where you could find lots of really hard to find beers that you could not find anywhere else. While the selection still has some gems, there are a lot more common beers. There are about four shelf cases with bombers and foreign beers. Their Belgian selection is a bright spot. The appearance as others have said leaves a bit to be desired. The aisle in back of the beer aisle was covered in old cardboard boxes. The service was courteous and knowledgeable, so no complaints there. What I got was a bit pricey for what I expected to pay for it. If I was in Boston--especially Boston proper, I would still come to this store every now and then. The selection still beats most in the area, and it clearly caters to craft. However, it just is not worth the hour trip as it once was or as some other stores still are.

tigg924, Feb 03, 2010
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 slander
4/5  rDev -1.2%

We hit it after the AOBF wandering around in the rain. They keep the beer in the back in an elevated section, warm on a small wall of shelving and cold in the coolers. A good selection of regional micros and good imports. I meant to pull me a couple of Brooklyn Monster '02's (I haven't seen the '02's in a while) but I ended up spacing them (it was after all, post AOBF!!!) but I scored me some Rogue I2PA's and a bottle of the Sam Adams Triple Bock, which is not so easy to find these days in the NYC area, especially at the $5 it cost me for this one (I should've bought a few of them) and they had some of the Magic Hat big bottled beers very nicely priced. What's this?!? Both of the Dogfish Head rums? (I scapped me a bottle of the honey rum). Good beer selection, a case up front with a small but quality glassware collection ( I really do need Caracole "Saxo snifters"), and a pretty decent tequilla selection too. I'm sure we'll stumble on back come September.

slander, Jun 08, 2003
Photo of puboflyons
4/5  rDev -1.2%

Wine tends to be the liquor of choice here but do not fret; if you walk to the back of the store you will find a small but high quality beer section. There are a couple of coolers for the national macros and better-known micros but I think you will be spending time perusing the dry shelves where they stock their imports, Belgians, and scarcer regionals. Some of the UK imports I have not seen before (ie. Fullers Honey). You cannot pull from 4 or 6 packs but there is a singles cooler. The singles are mainly nationally known brews though. Be prepared to spend a little more than you are used to. If you are in Boston it is worth a visit. Don't make plans to turn it into a tourist destination. It is fairly easy to get to from the Red Line, which has a station about a block or two away.

puboflyons, Feb 13, 2011
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 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 mdaschaf
4/5  rDev -1.2%

mdaschaf, Jul 08, 2014
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 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 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 Dicers
4/5  rDev -1.2%

Dicers, Jul 21, 2014
Photo of harsley
4/5  rDev -1.2%

harsley, Sep 30, 2014
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
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Charles Street Liquors in Boston, MA
91 out of 100 based on 57 ratings.