Benz Beverage Depot
Ratings: 11 | Reviews: 11
3.94/5 rDev -5.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | $$$
From Chicago to Waterloo, Iowa, and a quick stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Museum of Art, Grant Wood, a still-ravaged city not quite recovering from the 2008 flood, two Louis Sullivan buildings... and a beer store!
Looks like a warehouse, inside and out. But it's filled with goodies! You got your gourmet meats and cheeses, snacks (delicious rice crackers), chocolate and you name it. A ton of wine and booze and a sizable beer selection with a great selection of locals.
The build-your-own pack section doesn't have a lot of stuff but I got some singles from Midwest breweries. There's also a walk-in cooler with mostly macros, a six-pack section and a nice selection of bombers.
Some names I spotted... Peace Tree from Iowa, Lucky Bucket from Nebraska, Boulevard. Potosi from Wisconsin, James Page, Summit from Minnesota, Bells (Expedition, Kalamazoo in packs), Lucky Bucket Certified Evil (great name!).
Also a shelf with lots of Belgian brews, a Euro shelf with Nogne, British and Russian beers and a ton of Mikkeller bombers and singles (the hop story). Laughing Dog and Lips of Faith too.
Oh, and what about New Jersey's Cricket Hill, which you can't find outside of Jersey??? Weird!
I bought two bottles of Peace Creek Imperial Stout ($2.50 a bottle) and some Midwest singles (Potosi, Summit).
Prices were all over. The Midwest singles were cheap, the bombers were more on the average (aka pricey) side. Wine was a tad expensive, or no better than other states. And the gourmet food was pricey. Not too bad but maybe a tad too much for Iowa.
Service was nonexistent in the aisles, but friendly at the registers. A good quality stop if you need some local brews in Cedar Rapids.
09-05-2011 04:52:28 | More by DoubleSimcoe
4.14/5 rDev -1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
I stopped in here recently while in town for a fellow BA's wedding. Very happy I did.
As we pulled up I saw the warehouse style building and my pulse raced. I imagined pallets of beer as far as my eyes could see. Well it wasn't quite that but it was rather impressive. One entire wall dedicated to craft. With a fairly large ice cold walk in freezer as well. All the local options were well represented. As well as the typical Midwest brews. The imports were plentiful save for the usual no shows. IE Cantillon.
The people working were extremely helpful and friendly. My wife was looking for a nice wine for her dad and the clerk spent some serious time showing her a vast array of stuff that he might like. I was asked several times if I needed anything as well.
Most everything I picked up had a reasonable date on it so no complaints there. Prices seemed more than fair.
Overall a must stop if you are in town or passing through.
06-21-2011 17:28:18 | More by beerwolf77
4/5 rDev -4.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
Stopped by for a tasting during craft beer week. Apparently they're always doing tastings, now. Figures. Soon as I move away, things get cool.
Still, I had always hear this place was an unfriendly warehouse. I heard wrong. It's the size of a warehouse, yes, and I suppose it's not as friendly as John's, but the decor is warm and welcoming. It's kind of like an uppity version of a Binny's--a big selection with an almost Whole Food-ish vibe. There's track lighting, the products come in decorative racks, and the floor is wood paneled.
So far as domestics go, if they sell it in Iowa you can probably find it here. Belgian and foreign selection is tight, though not as tight as John's. Decent selection of rares and one-offs, too, and most of the lower-ABV beers are properly refrigerated.
Well, I feel kind of like a dumbass for never coming here when I lived a half hour away...
06-05-2011 16:28:35 | More by mynie
4.14/5 rDev -1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Atmosphere: While the building is not impressive from the outside, once you step in, it's a wonderland of shiny glass bottles (something that gets my heart racing every time I see it). While they have lots and lots of wine, the east and south walls are entirely devoted to beer.
Quality: Of course they carry the usual bud, bud light, etc... but for the most part, quality beers are represented on the shelves. Not only the year-round offerings from breweries, but the special one-off or seasonal offerings too. Many big bottles too.
Service: I didn't really get a chance to experience the service side of things while I was there (only had time to stop long enough to gaze over their selection and snatch up a New Belgium La Folie).
Selection: I counted 4 of the 7 trappist breweries represented on the shelves. Lots of imports as well as American craft beer selections. They have another section almost entirely devoted to Iowa beers.
Everything seemed fairly priced. Obviously some more expensive beers, simply because they cost more to make.
06-01-2011 05:26:52 | More by rundocrun
5/5 rDev +19.6%
quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
Great selection of all kinds of beer, and also an ever growing selection. They have recently extended the beer selection to almost the entire back wall of the store, plus their walk in cooler. Always quick on keg orders (usually order on Tuesday and pickup on Wednesday.) Matt and the gang at Benz are always very helpful and know the answer to most any question. If they don't have something you're looking for, you better believe Matt will be on the phone that day checking with his sources to find what you're looking for. This is the best place in town for whatever you need.
08-25-2010 00:51:15 | More by LeroyJohn
4.35/5 rDev +4.1%
quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Benz Beverage Depot has a fantastic selection of just about everything, including beer. The building is an off purple color in downtown Cedar rapids. There are numerous varieties of higher end wine and spirits in addition to a wall of beer and a walk in cooler which advertises 60+ kegs.
The beer selection is impressive with several single bottle selections as well as 6 packs and a build your own 6pack cooler. I will say the build your own section was less than ideal givent he other quality beers they have solo. The amount of Belgian beer is impressive with St. Bernardus, Westmalle, Trappist Rochefort, Duvel and as well as other well known Belgian breweries. They have a nice selection of German beers as well having a variety of Hacker Pschorr and Weihenstephaner brews. There are some other singles from England (Samuel Smiths, Wynchwood, and St. Peters). My only gripe is the lack of American offerings in the single bottle area. In my search for an IPA I was only able to find ONE 6-pack of Lucky-U IPA from Breckenridge. This was the only offered IPA. Regardless, Benz is a hopheads playground and a fantastic place to load up your beer cellar. I will definitely be going back.
03-04-2010 16:00:31 | More by BehindtheFinBrew
4.5/5 rDev +7.7%
quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Everybody talks about how much room the wine takes up vs. beer etc. WELL, that's because it stacks and packs!! Wine has to be laid out with label up. How tedious!! This store does pretty well for selection. They have many beers tucked in the corner. The Belgian selection is good. The American micro and imported section is good. They also took my suggestion about trying to get some of the beers that I know are good and are also accepted on this site. This place is modern looking and was remodeled before opening. A big focus on food, but I must say, the food is way out of line. Some of the food is available at certain large discount grocery stores who shall go unnamed. I am only reviewing the beer here and not the food though. Beer prices are in line considering the bureaucracy a beer store must go through in Iowa to market anything over 6% ABV. Handy for me; only 3 miles away!!
01-05-2008 04:26:19 | More by daledeee
4.35/5 rDev +4.1%
quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $
This is a large gourmet food store with lots of wine and fancy-pants kitchen gagetry and way more salsa and cheese spreads and cocktail rimmings and what not than I thought possible to gather under one roof. I'd say about a fifth of the store is dedicated to beer and as far as the selection goes its definately a quality over quantity approach, but all the beer is definately fresh and I overheard a (I assume) manager telling a customer they wouldn't stock certain beer that nobody would buy because they won't sell old beer. I thought that was refreshing. They have great big cold section of singles and a good deal on mixed sixes.
I went to one of their tastings, which they charge ten dollars for, but you get to try like 20 beers, you get five dollars off whatever you buy that night. Everyone was very friendly and informed about the beers they were serving. They have a winery/distillery renting a tasting room in the same building so I got to taste that stuff too, which was all great. Basically for under 20 bucks I got totaste tons of stuff, bring home fancy cheese, and a mixed six, and a belly-full of goodness. I'd say thats a good trip.
04-05-2006 03:53:40 | More by JudgeRoughneck
3.9/5 rDev -6.7%
quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$
I finally got a chance to check this place out on my way back from the butcher in Cedar Rapids (I just purchased a new grill yesterday, and I had to buy some specialty meats for the inaugural flame). Quite a swanky little place in what seems to be a not-so-swanky little neighborhood, though most of Cedar Rapids looks (and smells) like shit anyways... I must say, I was a bit impressed by the place, though.
The store is all very new and modern looking. The big blue warehouse is filled with all kinds of wine and liquor, but I didn't spend any time checking it out as I was here to check out the beer, which is limited to a decent sized corner of the store, including a walk-in cooler. On the outside wall of the walk-in there is an adjoining cooler that contains all of the single bottles, and just around the corner from that is the import selection. From my count, there were approximately 1/2 a dozen beers not available at John's Grocery back home in Iowa City, but nothing too exciting (I ended up picking up an amber by Grand Teton).
Many of the beers were resting atop BA shelf-talker tabs, which was quite positive, but other than that there seemed to be an utter lack of service, especially when it came to beer knowledge. I was wearing a BA shirt even, but I would doubt the women at the check-out even noticed the BA tags on the shelf with all they seemed to care about beer.
I might shop here again if I'm in the area, but I don't think it is worth the drive from Iowa City on its own. The butcher I mentioned earlier is another story, however... best ribs ever... I may just be in the neighborhood again soon.
08-30-2005 05:55:15 | More by neonbrown82
3.55/5 rDev -15.1%
quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
You can't miss the big blue warehouse. Inside, the place is dimly lit and is the definition of "trendy". Store obviously seems dedicated to wine and "uppity" selections of meat, cheese, and chocolates. All their craft beer is located in the far right corner (from the entrance). They have the ever-popular "make-your-own" six-packs, and other beers on shelves outside the cooler.
The selection isn't bad. I estimate around 160+ different beers..mostly American micros & English ales. There were some other European offerings..I noticed some Chimay and a few German selections, but nothing too out-of-the-ordinary. With the minor drawback of half of it being dedicated to macros, the walk-in cooler is pretty sweet as well. They have a few brews stored in there that they don't have on the shelves outside. I noticed Goose Island 312 Wheat, DFH 60 minute, and DFH Shelter Pale, and some Pony Express beers (some I haven't seen in Iowa until now). Their Rogue selection is definitely respectable as well.
I just happened to be wearing my BeerAdvocate shirt, and spent a good 20-30 minutes picking through every beer they had..but not one person asked me if I needed any help or even said "hi" for that matter. And the store was far from busy when I stopped in. Given, I may have stopped in at a bad time (I understand that), but I didn't get any service that I would qualify as "above average". I will update the review accordingly if I get better service next time I stop in.
Overall, it's far and away the best place to get beer in the Cedar Rapids area..and a nice little beer oasis nestled halfway between John's Grocery in Iowa City & HyVee Wine & Spirits in Cedar Falls.
07-17-2005 23:06:17 | More by hero27
Benz Beverage Depot in Cedar Rapids, IA
92 out of 100 based on 11 ratings.