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The Wine Thief & Ale Jail

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

35 Ratings
Ratings: 35
Reviews: 25
rAvg: 4.43
pDev: 11.96%
$$ - reasonable
[ Store ]

1787 Saint Clair Ave
Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55105-1941
United States
phone: (651) 698-9463

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @alejail

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: summitepale on 01-28-2006)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 35 | Reviews: 25 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Hopstout
Hopstout

Minnesota

5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$

I discovered the Ale Jail only about 6 weeks ago and have already stopped in 6 times.
I have a few favorite local beer shops that I visit in the Twin Cities area, and this one has become my most favorite.
It's a fairly small place, but somehow they fit a HUGE selection of quality ales inside. They have MANY single bottles and they are displayed so that you can find what you are looking for easily.
I have found very rare and hard to find items here almost every time I have hopped in.
The staff is both incredibly knowledgeable and pleasant to deal with. Very down to Earth people. Not pushy at all.

Highly recommended.

12-24-2011 16:59:59 | More by Hopstout
Photo of Chudem
Chudem

Wisconsin

5/5  rDev +12.9%

06-13-2014 02:12:54 | More by Chudem
Photo of plfahey
plfahey

Illinois

5/5  rDev +12.9%
quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$

Ale Jail has quickly become the best place to buy beer in St. Paul. They boast an incredible selection of single bottles (on their build a 6-pack wall) at quite cheap prices-this is where you'll find the best deals in the store. They also regularly get in special offerings that are difficult (if not impossible) to find elsewhere in the twin cities.

Adam, who is in charge of the beer side of the wine thief/ale jail enterprise was recently certified as a cicerone, and it shows in his knowledge and familiarity with the beer that they offer. He's easy to talk to and enthusiastic about what he does-always ready and excited to help you find a beer to suit whatever you may be looking for.

I'm so excited to finally have an excellent beer store on this side of the river-tho even if you're a Minneapolis resident this one is definitely worth checking out.

11-09-2010 05:19:19 | More by plfahey
Photo of DaftPatrick
DaftPatrick

Minnesota

5/5  rDev +12.9%

03-26-2014 21:19:05 | More by DaftPatrick
Photo of Jimandhisbeerd
Jimandhisbeerd

Minnesota

5/5  rDev +12.9%

06-18-2014 21:30:07 | More by Jimandhisbeerd
Photo of corcoranjc
corcoranjc

Minnesota

5/5  rDev +12.9%
quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$$

This is a wonderful place, and I regularly drive out of my way to visit this store. Prior to the Ale Jail side opening (there is both a beer store - Ale Jail, and a wine shop - The Wine Thief on the premises), my wife and I would regularly go here for wine. Now that the Ale Jail has opened it's an incredible one stop shop. Really the only reason I go anywhere else at this point is if I am pressed for time and need to just stop at a local shop in South Mpls where we live or if I'm short of cash and am looking for some sale items.

The shop is small and they do not usually have a lot of items on sale, but it is the best place to find some rarer beers and to try a wide variety of selections (their singles wall is exceptional). Adam who runs the beer side is very knowledgeable and approachable. Also, stop by on Tuesdays for their tastings....really great!

01-28-2011 16:45:58 | More by corcoranjc
Photo of EJNibs
EJNibs

Minnesota

5/5  rDev +12.9%
quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$

*UPDATE* 8/7/10
What was already one of my favorite places to shop has gotten a huge makeover this summer; The Wine Thief now has her lovely counterpoint in The Ale Jail. In my previous review, the only shortcoming of The Wine Thief was the lack of selection. This is true no longer. The new Ale Jail has a 5 door cooler stocked with mostly American Microbrew six packs, a few import sixers, a fair amount of Belgian 750's, and what I explicitly wished they could sell last year in my previous review: SURLY!

But what makes this place even better is that they have an absolutely massive selection of build your own six pack single bottles--there must be hundreds of them--and they take 10% off of the build your own sixer when you get a full 6 or more.

Finally, The Ale Jail does FREE beer tastings every Tuesday evening! The tastings I've been to are not, moreover, just a couple bottles open. Recently, I went to a tasting and Adam (their new beer manager and cicerone to be) ran me through the gamut of about a dozen different Deutsches Bier offerings from Aktienbrauerei and Ayinger, clarifying the history and style of the beers I tasted through them.

I'm moving away from the Twin Cities in the near future, and even though I'm moving to the Beer Mecca Boston, I'll miss this place dearly after I leave, and I'll be sure to stop back whenever I'm in St. Paul. If you live in the TC metro, you've gotta check out the Ale Jail.

11/24/09
Despite the fact that it's a wine shop, The Wine Thief has a remarkable selection of beers in the back corner, probably over a hundred different kinds. They have single bottles, six packs and twelve packs but no cases. Except for a couple of mixed packs, the twelve pack selection is pretty standard and static (Three S's: Summits, Stella and Session), but the six packs are pretty varied and they get new stuff with relative frequency. They have the full line of Rush River beers along with several sixers from Bell's, Boulder Brewing Co. and Two Brothers.
I buy a fair amount of sixers here, but I think the single bottle selection is where this place really shines. The Belgians include the standard array of Chimays, Duvel, Kwak and Piraat, but also a few others that are a little more off the beaten path (I think the Golden Carolus Tripel is a diamond in the rough, among the best Belgians I've had and only $9 here!). They also have the full line of Unibroue 750ml's as well as smaller, 12 oz bottles from them in kind of a make-your-own six pack style. Single bottle American craft beers abound, and among the usual suspects--Avery, Flat Earth, Southern Tier--there are a couple others like Pretty Things that you don't see as often.
The staff are friendly, and don't let the fact that it's a wine shop fool you, they're pretty enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the beer too (I think that one of them mentioned that she actually used to work as a beer rep?).
The only major drawback of The Wine Thief is it's size. They do a good job of maintaining a pretty wide array of Belgian and American craft beers, but other countries--Germany especially--aren't as strongly represented. Also, perhaps more importantly, the small stature of the store precludes refrigeration units, leaving them without cold beer, and cold beer purveyors--namely Surly--that don't sell to retailers sans coolers.
Still, it's certainly worth a trip to check out what they have, especially if you're into wine as well.

08-07-2010 15:46:51 | More by EJNibs
Photo of bsp77
bsp77

Minnesota

4.85/5  rDev +9.5%
quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$

The new Ale Jail (separate room off of the Wine Thief) is now the best beer store in St. Paul. The beer manager is unbelievably knowledgeable and helpful, and the selection is great (unless you want macros, which I certainly don't). Huge range of English, Belgian and German beers. Lots of American craft beers as well, but probably can find a few more American beers at some other places.

A large portion of the selection is singles, which are grouped by style instead of brewery. The singles have decent prices, unlike some places, which gouge on singles. They also have a cooler with six and four packs for most of the American craft beers, but many of the imports are singles only.

08-21-2010 13:42:11 | More by bsp77
Photo of zeledonia
zeledonia

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +8.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$

Seems like every time I go there, it's empty. And I can't fathom why. In fact, I'm tempted not to review it so I can keep it to myself and the others who already know about it.

You have to walk through the wine side to get to the "Ale Jail." Once there, it's roomy and quiet. Great selection, a wall of single 12 oz. bottles, a wall of bigger bottles, a wall of coolers, and tables in the middle with 4- and 6-packs.

The mixed 6-packs are the best value I've found; the per-bottle prices are the same as if you bought a pack of each. Awesome selection, mostly organized by style. They also seem to get less traffic than other spots with similar selection, so they have the limiteds and other sought-after stuff for quite a bit longer (e.g. they had plenty of Founders Imperial Stout long after it was gone from my local more-popular shop).

Staff is super helpful, and usually very available. Seriously, why is there never anyone else there?

Great place, well worth a visit for the value and selection. And I hear the weekly tastings are great, though I haven't yet made it to one.

02-21-2011 02:46:58 | More by zeledonia
Photo of KarlHungus
KarlHungus

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +8.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$

I am very impressed with the beer selection at The Wine Thief and Ale Jail. Their singles selection is among the best in the Twin Cities, as is their Belgian selection, and their selection of unique/hard to find beers. The only thing I can say negatively about their selection is that their cooler space is somewhat limited. The service is really good, and even the wine guys seem to be very beer savvy. The atmosphere is inviting with a lot of space to move around in. I will definitely be going back here when looking for something odd.

06-09-2011 19:29:23 | More by KarlHungus
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The Wine Thief & Ale Jail in Saint Paul, MN
97 out of 100 based on 35 ratings.