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Ledger's Liquors

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

56 Ratings
Ratings: 56
Reviews: 52
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 9.03%
[ Store ]

1399 University Ave
Berkeley, California, 94702-1710
United States
phone: (510) 540-9243

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: GClarkage on 07-01-2005)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 56 | Reviews: 52 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
5/5  rDev +15.7%

I heard good things about this place so I decided to stop in and everything I heard was true. Tons of bombers and other singles to choose from, and the man who worked there was genuinely interested in send me off happy. He helped me with some choices, gave me publications as to events in the area and around California, and even threw in a few free beers for me since I was from out of the area. It seemed to be an old place but you can't judge a book by its cover. While it had some beers in the cooler, some where on the floor but considering the outstanding service there turnover is probably brisk and not an issue... I mean they excelled at everything else so they must know what they're doing.

Photo of mjl21
4.85/5  rDev +12.3%

Every time I go in to Ledger's Liquors I always think about how many times I drove by this place not knowing what was inside.

When you walk in to Ledgers you are greeted by a very loud bell, the kind that you hear in a corner liquor store where you sole purpose is condoms, King Cobra, and Swisher Sweets. But don't let that ring fool you. Immediately to the right of the entrance and in front of you are cases stocked with all kinds of cool glassware. There are rows stocked with tons of good booze and towards the back is where the beer is located. They have a coolers along the wall which are stocked with everything. All of the popular guys are here including RR, HOTD, Port/Lost Abbey, Stone, Deschutes, The Bruery, et. al. You can slo find limited stuff from smaller guys such as Iron Springs and Schooner's.

Besides the beer in coolers there is beer in boxes on the floor and along several shelves. It is always fun to go through the shelves because there is always something new and interesting. They also have shelves dedicated to the Euro offerings. In the back is where they keep the Belgians.

Another nice feature is you can make your own six packs from any of their beers so you are not left feeling burned if you try a beer that you do not like.

The service is outstanding. Ed owns the place and Sonny is his right hand man. Both guys are extremely amiable. I have been told Ledger's is also frequented by bartenders for their rare liquor selection.

If you are visiting this is a must stop as Ledger's has great prices and selection.

Photo of Murchmac
4.85/5  rDev +12.3%

Ding Dong. The loud noise bellows as you walk into this ratty looking homeless shopping liquor store. When you wander past the ice cream, scratch tickets, and cheap vodka, you find yourself smacked in the face with some of the best beer selection i've ever seen. They have everything there. Lots of belgians, lots of holiday beers, aged beers, pizza port, lost abbey, drakes special releases. Great store, I wish i lived closer to it. The staff was friendly and knowledgable. It's a bit pricey, but worth the price if you enjoy good beers.

Photo of Tamigleo
4.75/5  rDev +10%

Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.7/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Ledger's is one of the biggest surprises I've found in the San Francisco Bay Area. From the outside, it doesn't look like much; in fact, it doesn't look like much from the inside either. It looks like a typical "hole-in-the-wall" liquor store.

But the beer selection IS very impressive. In fact, I'd rate it the #3 beer store in the entire San Francisco Bay Area; it's probably on par with Healthy Spirits in San Francisco in terms of overall selection, but Ledger's has better prices. Only Perry's in Livermore (#1) and Monument in Concord (#2) have more beer in my estimation.

The owner pretty much leaves you to browse unless you have questions for him, which I like, and then he's very helpful. You'll find some very nice surprises here. However, it'd be really nice if they updated their website to list their beer selection, as many other big beer stores do.

All in all, an excellent beer store.

Photo of urwatuh8
4.7/5  rDev +8.8%

Somehow, I have never reviewed this place. I live maybe a mile away, and this is my go to store. I see some complaining about the price, but on most stuff it's not much more than bevmo. And bevmo doesn't move five to ten cases of every Russian River release. Or have a huge collection of obscure belgian stuff. In my opinion, this place has the best selection in the bay area. (By a nose, there are several close competitors.) I can probably think of one or two places on the east coast that are more impressive. Very handy to have nearby in case I have a sudden urge for, say, a good gueuze and I don't happen to have any on hand.

The stuff is friendly too, and Ed definitely knows his beer. I'm not usually looking for recommendations so much as info on what's coming in and when and such.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%

I dropped a Benjamin here on my way out of town and would have dropped two if I had had a bit more space in my luggage. Included in my purchase: multiple bottles of Stone RIS, Runination, IPA, RR Temptation, Damnation, and Salvation, PP SPF 45, etc… Service was phenomenal. After browsing for a minute or two, the owner walked over and asked me what I was looking for. I began rattling off my list of topnotch, west coast beers that I hoped to take back to Wisconsin. His reply was two fold, either… “yes I have it, here you go,” or “sorry, I don’t have that but I’ll order it or drive to some far off city to pick some up right away.” When I explained that I was from Wisconsin and would not be a repeat customer he was still insistent on getting the beers I had asked for because he figured they were good and others would like to have them. Then as I was checking out, I remembered that I had not picked up or seen any Pizza Port. No sooner than I had asked, then he was in and out of the back with his last bottle of SPF 45 and a good story about a recent road trip to Southern California to stock up on beer for his shop. Apparently, the Ledger’s guy regularly drives all over the west coast picking up beers that he can’t get delivered to him. Now that’s service! The owner also gave me plenty of print info on California beer festivals, new releases, other good beer stores, bars, etc… He was a real talker. I probably spent thirty minutes gabbing with him about beers/beer bars. In addition to the brews I picked up, Ledgers seemed to have a pretty good handle on obscure, small west coast breweries and tons of great Belgians. Prices were a bit high on some of the more obscure stuff and a bit low on some of the more common items including many of the Belgians. All-in-all a great shop and well worth a trip.

Photo of BrewerB
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%

My go-to East Bay beer store.

The selection is top notch and they seem to have an "in" with the hard-to-find distributors. Prices are very reasonable compared with other shops.

I've found quite a few hard to track down beers including RR sours, old JW Lee's Harvest Ales, and limited edition Port Brewing.

The staff is friendly and more than willing to talk beer with you if you've got the time. They often give you a head's up on what beers might be in stock down the road if you ask the right questions.

Parking is free, too if you park in their lot (enter off University Ave.)

Photo of fartingdog
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%

Since I shop here regularly, I figure it's time to throw out a review.

The selection here is the best in the bay. I've been to every quality liquor store listed on beerfly, and this still is my #1 choice. When I worked in Berkeley, I would stop here at the end of every week after the deliveries, since there is almost always something new on the shelves. The selection has been growing over the years as well. Plenty of British, German, Belgian and domestic craft brews abound, as well as many from other parts (such as Lithuania and Sweden). They've gone out of the way to bring unique beers into the store, including road trip to places like San Diego to bring up beers that weren't distributed here.

The shelves can be a little haphazard, as certain stock dwindles down and new stuff comes in. You can't just walk down the aisle and see everything neatly organized, but that's OK tho. It becomes like a treasure hunt when you find that one bottle stuck behind some other stock, so plan on spending some time to peruse the shelves here. Prices can be a little higher for some beers, but seem to be on par with all the other privately owned (read: not BevMo) establishments around here.

Everybody that works there is very helpful, and the owner, Ed, is a great guy, very knowledgable of what he carries, and has lately been pushing alot of beer and food pairing. Seems nowadays my visits are social calls as much as perusing the shelves.

If you are visiting and can only make one stop, this is the place.

Photo of redbird
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%

What else can be said about this place? It's amazing. One of the best beer stores I've been in. They carry just about everything you could possibly want. One great thing that they do is the price sticker on every bottle has a month on it, so for all those bottles that don't have a born on date, you at least know when they got it.

The only knock I would have them is that the bottles are really scattered around, meaning not all the bottles from one brewery, or even the same beer, are in one place. This just means you need to really look hard and you could possibly find a hidden gem.

I didn't catch his name, but I had a great conversation with the guy working the counter, and he gave me a recipe for some beer pancakes that I can't wait to try out.

If I ever find myself in San Fran again, I'll definitely be going back.

Photo of WOTO97
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%

In terms of quality and quantity, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better bottle shop in the east bay, or maybe anywhere in the bay area.

The number of beers on the shelves and in the cold boxes is pretty impressive. They generally get most new releases and have on hand many rarer bottles. I've managed to find a bottle of the Alaskan Balkan Porter here not to long ago, which I hadn't seen anywhere else. Anytime I visit, I always manage to pick up something I didn't expect to find.

Service is a perfect balance. The staff really let's you figure out your own shit; allowing you to meander for quite a while without pestering you. Nonetheless, most of the folks, namely the owner, is stoked to talk shop and help you out if you need it. My visits are always very pleasant.

Selection is very solid. Organization could use some work, but that is part of the charm of the place. In fact, digging around for those gems is part of the fun here.

Prices are bit steep, but nothing that would preclude a purchase.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend visiting this spot.

Photo of gubbt
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%

I've been going here for about a year now as a regular stop. Ed does a very good job of getting all the rare west coast micros and Belgian beers that he can.

Ledger's and Monument in Concord are the two places on the East Bay to go for rare releases like Abyss, Firestone Anniv., SA Utopias, and RR sours. Ledger's also has a great selection of other stuff consisting of Port/Lost Abbey, Stone, some odd micros here and there, and rare Belgian beer. Ed also goes out of his way to get beers that he can't get through normal means.

Also, Ed has a good selection of single malts if you're into that sort of thing. Prices are $0.50-$1.50 more than other places, but that should not be a deterrent from coming here and getting some great beer.

Photo of htomsirveaux
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%

This is my regular bottle shop when I am in the area. Looks like nothing much from the outside (well except for that confusingly awesome new adult swim ad painted on the side of the building) but the inside is filled with beery goodness. The guys at the store will leave you alone but are helpful if you ask. Selection is good, prices are good, service if you need it. Layout is a little haphazard. Logoed glassware at the front for sale.

Not much else to add that hasn't already been said. Go. Buy a case of beer. Get the discount.

Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
4.6/5  rDev +6.5%

When it comes to the quality, I state "good" because from the outside, it looks like a hole in the wall and that it may have been robbed a few times.

That's the beauty of it once you walk inside. Everything opposite. Arguably the best selection in the east bay and less expensive than the known beer stores in the city. (Healthy Spirits to name one)

The best aspect of this store front is the owner Ed. He's more than happy to spend time with you, educate you and just make you feel welcome. Selection is fantastic including all the latest releases. $15.99 for Parabola when at Toronado sells it for $20 and Perry's liquor sells it for $28.99 (LMFAO!) Just one example.

The second example is a conversation Ed and I had about vintage beers meaning 2009 and 2008 Barleywines, RIS's and other older Barrel Aged Beers that's stuck around on his shelves some. Keep in mind other beer stores look to profit off these and upcharge for them once they feel the age is right (less than a year in most cases) Can you say City Beer and Perry's Liquor to name a few...

The conversation went like this when I asked about keeping his prices the same on vintages:

"If they stayed on the shelves, I still payed the same price for them. The price shouldn't change on the consumer just because it's still on my shelf".

I can't tell you how many times he's thrown a extra in my bag after a decent haul. Not cheap extra's either let me tell you. After plenty experience in shopping beer in SF and the greater Bay Area, I can honestly say Ed is looking for your continued business and loyalty. He's not caught up in getting the most $$ out of your wallet and over charging rarities.

I highly recommend Ledger's as hands down my favorite. A better experience than every location in SF in my experience.

Photo of bcm119
4.6/5  rDev +6.5%

Ledger's seems to just keep improving. It has a great selection of California beer and Belgians, all displayed in a random fashion to make your beer hunt a little more fun. The owner is knowledgeable, friendly and not the least bit pretentious. He really caters to the beer enthusiast by seeking out stuff that can't be found elsewhere in the bay area, and when he has something really special like Abyss he'll keep it in the back so you have to ask for it-- thereby saving his stock for the enthusiasts. There are new things arriving all the time so frequent trips here are recommended. As a nice bonus he carries a good selection of glasses. All this in a seedy liquor store atmosphere... it doesn't get much better.

Photo of clickpush
4.55/5  rDev +5.3%

Finally, after months of reading about Ledger's, I trekked out there from SF to see what all the fuss was about. Immediately I understood. Belgians out the wazoo... that's all I have to say. Tons of 750ml bottles had hopped across the pond and landed in Ledger's and Ledger's only. Three full aisles of room temp beer and another 1.5 aisles of beer coolers. I loved the disorganization, the half empty cases, and all the mysterious labels - this is beer shopping at its best. When there's this good of a variety, I don't want to skim the shelves that are billboarded by brewing company - I want to be forced to look at every label and say "ooooh, I've read about this one" - one after another after another. Only reason that selection is not a 5 is because I felt that there were some obvious holes in the California selections (though some small distribution So. Cal beers had somehow made their way there), but I did not see a single Russian River or AleSmith selection, some of which are quite easy to locate in other stores in the Bay Area. But nonetheless, here's what I came away with (after negotiating a budget w/ myself (which I then promptly exceeded))...
-Fuller's Vintage Ale 2004, $7.95 / 500ml
-Unibroue Edition 2004, $9.25 / 750ml
-Urthel Quadrium, $9.50 / 750ml
-Belhaven Twisted Thistle, $3.25 / 500ml
-Firestone Walker Porter Reserve, $4.59 / 22oz
-Fantome's La Gourmande, $11.95 / 750ml
-Brouwerij St. Bernardus Grotten Brown, $9.25 / 750ml
-Brouwerij St. Bernardus Grotten Flemish Ale, $9.25 / 750ml

Okay, so the walk back to the BART station was a slow one, but well worth it. Service here did not appear until I was checking out, but they were friendly and extremely beer savvy, which surprised me as my experience has been that at a beer/liquor/wine store the clerks focus most heavily on wine, then liquor, then beer.

Anyway, this will not be the last time I am swiping the plastic through Ledger's machines.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

I live in Georgia, but I've spent lots of time out in Berkeley on business over the last 19 years. I hadn't been to this place in years, and the last time was a desperate late night beer run before they closed. I always remembered it being slightly sketchy, with an average west coast beer selection and homeless dudes out front hassling you for one of your bottles out of the six. Needless to say, I hadn't really made it a destination. After reading about the place again on BA, I said to myself, "Really?, Shit, that place ? Its right down the street, I better go check it out."

This place rocks! It has only a medium selection size wise, but it makes up for that in knowledge of the beers and in quality. They have some real rare stuff here, and its stuff you won't find a lot of other places up in the East Bay (or the South Bay, where I also spend a lot of time). I was headed out of town to work at a program for the next month, and decided to stop here to stock my fridge. Check out what I bought: Port Saison; Stone Vertical Epic and Ruination; Hair of the Dog Rose and Doggie Claws; St. Bernardus Abt 12; Russian River Temptation, Salvation, and Damnation; Anderson Valley Brother David's Triple; and Drake's Anniversary Lager. A really well chosen selection at this store, and the owner is filled with news about rarities and forthcoming releases from west Coast breweries. Highly recommended- I'll definitely be a regular.

Photo of Lothore
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Let me start off by saying I love small beer stores but absolutely have not been impressed with any stores in the Bay Area. While City Beer has its advantages, driving into the city sucks any way you look at it and the vibe there is just too cramped in my opinion. In comes Ledger's Liquors. While this is in a fairly decent part of town, this store looks to be like just another run down liquor store from the outside...WRONG! When one approaches closer there is a wide variety of glassware in the window. As I started to peruse the isles of beer I absolutely loved how things weren't very organized but there was enough room for them to be spread out. This lead to a treasure hunt for beer and I ended up finding some gems. What was also amazing was that every 6 pack I saw could be broken up into singles (and there were quite a few). I hate it when expensive six packs can be broken up but the common or cheap ones usually can't at normal stores, there is no such problem here. I found 4 Russian River Brews here as well as a good selection of Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, etc etc. While the selection wasn't mindblowing, it was great for the Bay Area. The prices weren't all that bad. From other reviews I was expecting this place to be super expensive but it seems to only be a matter of a buck or two here and there off from bevmo and I would much rather give ledgers my business. After I paid and was about to leave I remembered that I wanted a bottle of water so I went up to the counter and took my wallet out only to have the owner tell me not to worry about it and to enjoy the beer. Great service, awesome vibe, this place is hard to beat.

Photo of devo
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

I found this place last fall when every other store in the region had yet to receive their Double Bastard deliveries for the year. When every BevMo around was sounding pessimistic about EVER receiving their shipment, I called this place and was told, yeah, we have it, come on down.

Not only did they have the Double Bastard but they had the proper glassware for it and many of the other specialty beers available.

In addition, I was treated to great finds from Alesmith and Russian River "(three different offerings available!) as well as old Stone VE and Imperial.

As my selection started to add up, one of the fellows there was very quick to grab an empty bomber case for me and the younger guy at the checkout was very friendly and, without prompting gave me a 5% discount.

The prices were typically about .50 more than I expect to pay at a Bevmo but with the discount, that was pretty much canceled out.

It's location is pretty inconvenient unless you live near by. It is not well served by any freeways and University is a pain in the butt to get up and down - but it's definitely worth the trek.

Photo of atpca
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of illidurit
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Ledger's is a must-go place for me whenever I visit friends in Berkeley. Their selection is really quite amazing, with 3 aisles of unrefrigerated beer shelves along with almost a full wall of beer in cooler windows.
I always find a big selection of Hair of the Dog, Drake's, and Moylan's, along with lots of other Norcal micros. They usually have some Russian River too. San Diego area beers often have a hard time getting up here to Norcal but the owners have been known to travel down there and bring beer back for resale. Port Brewing and Stone are usually on the shelves, but I haven't seen any AleSmith here.
Belgians are also well-accounted for. Plenty of Cantillon, Fantome, Drie Fonteinen, and St Bernardus, as well as some more obscure stuff. The unrefrigerated shelves are disorganized and a delight to search through for hidden gems.

Service is good. If the owners are there you can strike up a good beer conversation because they know their stuff. Friendly and helpful.

Prices are a bit higher than average, which is pretty normal for Bay Area specialty shops.

A beer tour of the Bay Area must make a stop here.

Photo of excal
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

I went to Ledger's about a week ago in very much a RR mood. There just wasn't anywhere nearby (outside of the city, which I hate to drive into) that had ANY RR. The closest to me was Petaluma market, which was A) not that close and B) kinda pricey (5 bucks for a Pliny) so I went to Berkeley specifically looking on stocking my fridge up with Pliny. Well I did find some VERY fresh Pliny (this was a Saturday, "bottled on" date was the Monday of THAT WEEK), but I also left there with some oak-aged Damnation 23, Consecration and Beatification, and a BB XXI that had just come in that week to boot. I could have also had some regular Damnation, Temptation, Blind Pig and at least one other 'ation I can't remember. I don't have too much to add to what other reviewers have mentioned, (and if I did, it wouldn't be too coherent, as I've got most of the 750mL Damnation in me right now,) but this is very definitely a great place for beer.

Photo of GClarkage
4.45/5  rDev +3%

Let me start off by saying....what a find! I found this place from a recommendation from the local Stone Brewery rep. I was looking for a case of Stone IRS and he filled me in on Ledger's. I had always seen this store listed in the Celebrator beer monthly, but never really took a second glance for some reason. Located in Berkeley on University, it's about halfway to Cal. They have a parking lot that holds about 10 cars or so. Not the best of neighboorhoods, but not horrible. The owner (Ed) is a fantastic and very knowledgeble guy. Seemed like he really knows his stuff. He even takes special orders. The selection is pretty amazing. Lots of micros and other beers that you normally can't find around here. Plus lots of stuff that is long gone from just about everywhere. The first time I visited I was lucky to find so many great items. Unibroue 11, 2003 Anchor X-mas, leftover Bigfoot, Delirium Noel, three varieties of Fantome, many obscure brews from all over the world. I even found Pizza Port stuff that I didn't even know was bottled. Was lucky enough to get a couple Frank DIPA. Just a great beer store. If you are into the harder stuff they have about 100 different bottles of single and double malt whiskey. Lots of treasures to be found here.

Photo of nataku00
4.44/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Fairly close to my alma mater on University Ave in Berkeley, I stopped by to see if they had any of the recent releases available. Really typical corner liquor store filled to the max with liquor, wine and of course beer, boxes everywhere in the aisles and on the shelves. Well lit but the store is still a bit disorderly and you do have to look closely to find some beers, but there's a great selection of domestic and foreign beers. The owner behind the counter keeps a stoic face and will answer questions curtly, but I don't expect glowing service from this type of store.

Their selection of local brewers like Drakes, Lagunitas, and Russian River is very good, they allow people to break up six pack type beers into singles, though with a small increase in price for that convenience, and there are just so many types of beers available that you have to spend some time looking carefully to make sure you don't miss anything interesting.

Photo of BerkeleyBeerMan
4.44/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Looks like any other liquor store on the outside but is a treasure trove of cool finds when you enter.
This quickly becoming my go to place in the Berkeley area. The selection is diverse and huge. No matter what mood you are in you will find something to suit you here. The shelved beer isles are the place to seek new beers. They have an incredible selection of crafts, Belgians, and Uk beers. I am especially fond of the English ales they have on the shelves. They always have something new in the coolers. I did notice some dust covered beers on the bottom shelves which could be rotated. The prices are average. I don't find the staff to be as paranoiac as some of the other reviewers have. Young looking people are treated with a certain level of suspicion at any place that sells liquor. Once you show your ID you are fine. Cool place that also gives away free beer newspapers and magazines.

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Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA
96 out of 100 based on 56 ratings.