Tops Liquors

Not Rated.
Tops LiquorsTops Liquors
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

41 Ratings
Ratings: 41
Reviews: 31
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: n/a
Taps: 24
Bottles: 400
Cask: N
[ Bar, Store ]

403 W University Dr
Ste 104
Tempe, Arizona, 85281-5472
United States
phone: (480) 967-5643

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @tasteoftops

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Ratings: 41 | Reviews: 31
Reviews by jale:
Photo of jale
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4

Reviewing the store and bar. I live in Michigan, so this place has a great selection of beer unavailable to me in my state. Seems dusty and not well organized but this does'nt matter to me. I'm only here to find bottles. The staff appear to be wishing they were somewhere else, so come knowing what you want. Connected to the store is a casual bar with a nice tap selection. I tried the Stoic and several local beers. If your looking for sours, I did'nt see anything worth buying. I think sours have not caught on in AZ like other parts of the country.

More User Reviews:
Photo of EyePeeAyBryan
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 2.25 | selection: 4.5

Tend to only visit Tops when I'm desperate or heading by and feel like killing a few minutes. Prices will and are always higher than every single shop in AZ and the service is just awful. Every time I buy something I get the evil-eye from the dude who's ringing me up. For some reason they always look pissed and like they would rather do anything in the world other than helping my give them my money. Great selection of Imported stuff as well as the usual suspects we see in AZ. Points for an excellent selection but have to take some away for the piss-poor customer service.

Photo of Auraan
4.39/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Review is for both the liquor store and Taste of Tops, the attached bar.
Atmosphere for the liquor store is simple Arizona strip mall feel, crappy old floors, same shelves you see at every Goodwill here, packed with bottles. It's not the most upscale feel, but it has a charm to it that I love. The bar is amazing. It looks like nothing from the outside but then you go in and it's a charming place with local art on the walls, nice wood floors, great looking tables and an excellent bar set up. Nice set up of coolers as well. It's a hidden gem. Quality for the liquor store is great, they have lots of great stuff in there. The bar is even better. They get all sorts of amazing stuff on tap on a regular basis. Service is all round excellent, I've never had a truly bad experience here. This holds for both the bar and the liquor store. The bar staff in particular is great, always knowledgeable and able to tell you what's good. Selection for the liquor store is amazing. You can find all sorts of great stuff in there, often at excellent prices. I see stuff here that I never see anywhere else, and pretty dang fresh at that. The bar is the same, excellent selection of both taps and bottles, with all sorts of great rare and special stuff in both bottles and taps. No food, so I can't rate that. The value varies. The liquor store can either be more than the local big store, or way, way less. I've seen six packs for a buck or two more than elsewhere, but at the same time I've gotten bottles of Drie Fontien's for a couple bucks less and Witch's Wit in 750mls for five dollars less than the next cheapest place. Not to mention the $4 Thirez Blonde 750mls. So while it might not be the least expensive for everything, you can get some great deals in there. The bar is always a great value, with all sorts of taps for great prices. The bottles are bar priced, but fair, especially the cellar series selection. Overall the bar is my favorite spot in the Valley to have a drink, and the liquor store can be a great place to find some great stuff.

Photo of orangesol
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75

Stopped in here after four peaks since it was so close by. Upon entering I was a bit overwhelmed as there is a TON of beer, liquor and wine in that medium sized store. Beer is located on the right, the middle and the middle left as well as the right and back walls. Atmosphere was pretty laid back. People coming and going buying their wares for the weekend ahead. Service was ok. My interaction with them were fine but one of them tried to run me over from behind with a hand cart without even asking me to move. Selection was insane. 4-5 isles packed to the gills with beers from all over the country as well as the world. I was able to find two bottles I was looking for the last few days as well as a few others that I hadn't seen in years. Prices were more than reasonable and on par with the other shops I visited in town. Overall one of the better bottle shops I have stopped at on the trip, glad I made the side trek to check it out.

Photo of Tjvan2
4.49/5  rDev +6.1%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Stopped in from out of state just to see what they had that I can't get in Iowa. As it turns out, there are a bunch of things here I can't get in Iowa! The best thing about this place, as far as I am concerned, is that you can just grab an empty six pack and grab singles of anything that they have in the store....I mean anything! I like to try as much variety as possible, so this is fantastic. The organization is pretty much chaotic at best, but there is a lot there.

Photo of Jonesy12
4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 2.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Just reviewing for the Shop, haven't tried the bar yet. The shop is fully stacked... I mean FULLY sacked. It is a lot of college kids running in and out so many of the imports and wines are dusty. Yes this is the desert and things get dusty quickly believe it or not.

There is a absolutely amazing selection however of most anything you could want. Basically If tops and total wine don't carry it, its not in the state. Although the staff can be a little abrasive at first, they are great and know what they are talking about. Also if there is something specific that you want, they will go out of their way to get on their distributors for it.

They have a large refrigerated section with many different micro-brews that is great for a quick stop in.

Photo of rhartogsq
4.61/5  rDev +9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Just visited this place and was duly impressed with the selection. Being from out of town, visiting a local beer shop or brewery is akin to going to a museum or something.
I was way impressed with the selection. My goal, which was achieved, was to find what I can't get at home. There is a lot of Arizona beers as well as Southern California, and stuff from back east. The selection of Jolly Pumpkin and Lost Abby was insane.
It is crowded there because they have so much inventory. The owner asked if I needed help, but I politely declined.
A must stop for beer drinkers.
The tequila selection looked primo top!

Photo of matttttYCE
3.56/5  rDev -15.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4

This is for the store, not the bar (Taste of Tops).

I like the atmosphere here because there's almost always some music playing in the store which gives it a cool vibe. The music has a broad range of styles but fits well with a more hip college place. The layout of the store is a bit crowded, and that's when there aren't many people in the store. On a Friday or Saturday night the place can get pretty hard to navigate. But overall the atmosphere is pretty laid back and cool - fitting for being essentially right at the heart of Arizona State University territory.

The quality (which I'm having a little trouble differentiating between selection) I would say is pretty good. If anything I would say it's a little lacking because it's hard to tell how long things have been on the shelves unless they are bottle dated.

The service is usually good. The employees are usually helpful when you ask for something but I have had times where they have been either a bit short with me (like they didn't really want to help me because they thought my question was stupid) or seen them do the same with other customers, especially ones you can tell aren't as informed on most things beer as some BA members might be. I've also noticed that they tend to be short with you on the phone when you call about releases. And if you ask about more than one thing, you can just tell the guy on the other end is rolling his eyes as he responds. The other thing that really gets me and causes me to knock the service is that I have had employees talk either directly to me or to other employees or customers about buying some more expensive beers and then selling them online to turn a profit. From what I have overheard, at least a few of them seem to practice this. I try to just overlook this, but it's happened so much that I just can't anymore.

The selection is very broad, great range of year round and seasonal beers, fantastic range of imports, and for the most part you can get most limited releases here, but there have been times where I have tried and struck out here when some other stores around the valley have had what I'm looking for. More often than not you can find it at Tops, though. Again the only downfall, which I deducted from the quality rating, is that you often can't tell how long things have been on the shelves unless they are bottle dated. Some things get pretty dusty and leave you wondering if you really want to spend the money.

And lastly, the value rating is where this review really sticks out for me. I understand that this is a smaller store and located in a college area but the prices are usually the what lead me to shop elsewhere unless I can't find something anywhere else first. It just seems like the prices could be a little lower considering the likely volume of money they take in for where they are located. When I compare prices here to other stores like Total Wine, BevMo, and Whole Foods, Tops is almost always more expensive by a few (or many) dollars. It's not so much that it keeps me from shopping here all the time, but if I can get it for $5 less somewhere else, you better believe I'm going somewhere else. Money don't grow on trees, ya know.

Overall, a good stop for the breadth of the selection the store has, but when comparing to some of the bigger stores, I'll sacrifice some selection for much better prices.

Photo of TempeBeerMan
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5

I have been to Tops many times being that I am a Tempe resident, and they are definitely a destination spot for craft beer in Tempe.

First, the selection at Tops is insane. After you have reviewed a huge double-sided aisle of American craft beers and rows of coolers featuring all styles, dont miss that there is ANOTHER aisle in the mid point of the store featuring two huge rows of imports! Belgian, German, Russian, English, you name it. You can usually find some rare stuff here.

Drawback - hard to tell how long some of this stuff has been on the shelf, because sometimes a layer of dust covers a particular bottle. Store aging anyone? :)

Tops has taken some knocks about the service, but I found their service to be just fine, as the one time I asked about certain beers, a clerk was more than happy to dig in the back until they found it, or walk the aisle with me looking for a missed bottle.

The aisles are a little narrow, and if the store is crowded (often) managing them while "window shopping" can be challenging.

Going to Tops is like a treasure hunt in that you never know what you will find. One caveat - not sure how often they "restock" and if you clean them out of a particular brand, it might be months until you find it there again in some cases. Sounds like an excuse to try a new potential favorite!

Photo of landspeed57
3.2/5  rDev -24.3%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4

This is supposed to be THE place to go for beer in Tempe. I've gone into this store several times and while it's not bad, I don't find myself too impressed either.

First off, the staff can be pretty oblivious to what's going on in their store, or actually just rude. One time this lady asked about some beer(forget what she was looking for) for I think it was her son. The older guy at the counter kind of looked at her funny, pointed down the beer isle and said "have you looked there yet?" Dickhead. But other times they've been fairly helpful to me so take it for what you will.

As far as selection, aside from a few belgians, they really don't seem to have anything that Total Wine can't get for $3 less. The tasting room is cool though and worth a visit. Personally I'd rather take the trip out to SunDevil though.

Photo of jbtice0315
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5

Sister store to Sun Devil Liquor in Mesa.

Taste of tops is a small tasting room off to the side of the liquor store. The tasting room is a cool little place to hang out for a few beers. There's only craft beer on tap and the taps rotate pretty frequently.

Tops liquor store is one of the best in the area. They always get the limited release beers and there's always some real goodies there every time I go.

They even have vintage euro beers there as evidenced by the dusty bottle tops.

Great little place when I lived there and I always try to stop back when I'm in Tempe.

Photo of SunDevilBeer
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

***Review for bar only***

Was on a crawl of crap beer places with a group on a Friday night on Mill....split off and hit this place solo to have some good beers at the end of the night.

Small, comfortable place with couches towards the front. Busy when I went but didn't take long for me to get noticed for a beer. Most of the people here knew their craft beer.

Nice combination of geek beers and others you've heard of that you just want to drink. Totally dig it. Beers were reasonably priced and poured.

Good alt-indie music played at a reasonable decible level...enough so that you could listen to it and have a conversation.

I will visit again next time I'm in Tempe.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.89/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Located in a hole in the wall in Tempe, not the most prominent location, mixed amongst restaurants, bars, looks like an oversize convenience mart. Everything inside doesn't seem to have much organization, no rhyme or reason to have the stuff where it is. Shit all over the floor, dusty, stacked high.

What is inside is a good amount of beer. And some stuff I haven't seen before, so that was cool. Staff leaves you alone, lets you take extra cardboard if you need it.

Pricing doesn't seem out of the ordinary. I dunno what it is about the Pheonix area beer stores, but organization and appearance is not their strong suit. But I'd rather have a good varied selection over a pretty location, so I'd hit these up again if I am in the area.

Photo of DPFRD
4.94/5  rDev +16.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

The liquor store side is the tits. Really it's the big dog in AZ, not even bevmo or total wine have such an extensive selection... these dudes go out of there way to get all kinds of distributors on board so your mind can be blown when you go there.

Don't go there with to much solvent cash as you will blow it all.

The have an isle of belgian beer that will make your panties moist. It's stocked with anything you could think of and legally get... I have rarely been let down by this isle when on a hunt for a rarity, but shit, every section is like that.

They have shit from everywhere, an amazing american assortment, german selection is out of control, all kinds of eastern european stuff, asian... I mean damn.

They keep a good amount of stuff on redundant cold storage if you need to drink it right when you get it...

Their wine and booze selection is as thorough as their beer... this place is crowded with shit.

You can order all kinds of legit kegs from them... anyone want a pony of Houblon Dobblen... call tops.

They'll give you 10% if you buy a case, so go large.

The beer bar next door is great, large tap with really great rotating choices... always something new and interesting.

Photo of Phelps
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

A liquor store (Tops) and a beer/wine bar (Taste of Tops) that's become one of my favorite drinking spots in the city.

Taste of Tops has a laid-back atmosphere, often populated by the hipster crowd, though the occasional businessman will sneak in for happy hour after work. They usually play indie music and the artwork adorning the walls is produced by local artists and is always for sale. Taste of Tops will often hold events to showcase a new artist as well as new beers.

The bartenders at Taste of Tops are usually very friendly and knowledgeable about the brews they're pouring. The guys next door at Tops can be a little surly, but are also pretty willing to help you look around for a brew. The owner, Greg, is a certified Cicerone, and is awesome to just talk beer with. Just go in person; I've had a few experiences on the phone when workers seemed annoyed about my asking if they had a recent release, and once I was put on hold for ten minutes only to be hung up on.

Along with a decent selection of domestic craft beer, Tops has one of the better selections of European beers you'll find in the city. The downside is most of the stuff is left on the shelf un-refrigerated and exposed to the light. Some of the beers have obviously been hanging out for quite a while, so this might pose a problem.

I've never tried the food, though I believe it's just simple appetizers: chips, hummus, cheese, etc. You can bring in meals from nearby restaurants if you get hungry, and the place is right next to both a pizza joint and a place for Thai food.

The price of bottles at Tops is usually very reasonable; I remember picking up Parabola for about $13. The bar is another story. Glasses of higher-end beers can get up there in price -- Chimay is usually around $8, and I recently paid $11 for a goblet of Kasteel Quadrupel. They do, however, offer tasting flights for only $7, allowing you four three-ounce pours of any beer on tap.

Photo of Banger530
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%

When I first entered the store, I was a bit confused. I must have came on delivery day because all the aisles were full of new product, and I assume its not like that every time. It made it difficult to see some of the beer.

Very large selection of beer. I was able to find a beer I've been looking for and 4 other stores in the area did not have.

I searched the browsed the aisles to check the selection. No one asked if I needed help or if I was looking for something. I approached a worker and asked a few questions. He was very helpful.

They had quite a bit of beer in the cooler, more than other stores in the area, but a majority was still kept at room temperature.

All things considered, I would definitely go back

Photo of Sammy
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%

Pluses and minuses but ovrall an above average beer store, and up and coming. I review the new bar below, and want and will separate that out when it is added to the BeeFly.

The store was staffed by alert young people, there were three long rows of beers, half of them bottles. Amost everything available i the state is here. The staff were not highly knowledgeable on the beers, the lineup was long but hey it is in a buzy area, and you could get parking. Prices for the regular stuff looked reasonable.

The tasting room is a small bar, a few tables, a couple of sofas, 100 good bottles and about a dozen craft taps most filled by the best beers I have seen in the city, including St. Bernardus X-mas, Port Brewing Santa 2009. The main bartender knew his crafts. One of te two nights I went, there was a little Eastern European bottle tasting going on, which was fun.

Photo of drabmuh
3.85/5  rDev -9%

This place is just a few block off of Arizona State's campus, and you can tell once you are on the inside.

This is a liquor store that sells a bunch of beer. About 1/3 (or slightly less) of the store is devoted for beer sales. There is a wall of coolers with six packs in there, standard stuff. BMC, then you have your Arizona, Colorado, California, Oregon selection of microbrews.

The rest of the store is all about liquor. Rows and rows of liquor, get your drunk on place. Lots of promotional items from Corona and Captain Morgan in the place. It looks and feels like a liquor store.

Probably about 200 - 400 different beer varieties in this place. Not a bad selection at all. The staff isn't very helpful here in my experience but just keep looking and you'll eventually find what you're looking for. Its good for the location and selection, but I don't like the atmosphere or the staff as well as their sister store Sun Devil Liquors in Mesa.

Photo of bigbelcher
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%

Located near ASU so attracts a younger college age party clientle. Not as big as their sister store in Mesa, Sun Devil Liquors. Super friendly staff. They will gladly fill up CO2 bottles for you. My main problem with it is that they, like their sister store keeps a lot of the beer on the store shelves and not refrigerated, which to me is important, especially here in Arizona. They do have a wide variety of beers and usually get the really rare beers that most places don't get.
----
Addition
They have recently added a tasting room called Taste of Tops with 12 taps and about 5 windows of beer. All the beers on tap were good. Service was good but with 2 bartenders and only 4 people in the place it better be good. Some light snacks were available and you can bring in food from the other restaurants in the strip mall. Servers were nice but not totally beer saavy but I think that will develop in time.

Photo of yemenmocha
3.28/5  rDev -22.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 2 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

Tops was probably the original craft beer place to be back in the 90's when I first started shopping here. Overall, great selection.

Most beers at room temperature, and this is the warmest indoor liquor store I've ever visited. When it's hot outside it's not uncommon to see the front door open for ventilation. Poor employees.

I've also had problems with expired beers. I've also had problems with beers having floaties in them that should not have floaties in them. And everything seems to have a layer of dust.

If you're buying a fresh release then get it right away, otherwise I recommend shopping elsewhere.

Photo of DoubleJ
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
vibe: 2.75 | quality: 2.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5

This is what I would call a Jekyll and Hyde store. The beer could be better cared for, but holy shitballs, look what beer they have! It's west of ASU on University drive, just past the railroad tracks, in part of a strip mall.

Jekyll: Dusty bottles in the import section. Lots of dusty bottles, so check for freshness dates. The aisles are very narrow as there's clutter everywhere. Thankfully, there is a small refrigerated section carrying a small portion of their....

Hyde: ...truly unique and awesome beer selection. They have much of the American beers they can get their hands on: Full Sail Brewers Reserve, Alaskan, Dogfish Head (120 Minute IPA, Fort, Indian Brown, among others), Sonora, Hebrew, Oak Creek, Rock Art, Ska, Big Sky, Left Hand, Breckridge, Stone, Anchor. Among the imports, this is where it gets interesting: Trois Mousquetaires Impériale Weizen?!?! Dieu du Ciel's Corne du Diable?! 3 from Ølfabrikken, 4 from Mikkeller, 3 from Eisenbahn, 3 from Oppigårds (deep breath), Nøgne Ø, Nørrebro, a shitload of other imports, and more Eastern European beer that I could care for. Belgians, English and German beers are available too, but by now it goes without saying. It might be the biggest beer selection I have ever come across. I overheard one of the workers helping a couple on some of the English cask-aged beers they offered.

The beer selection is amazing, there's nothing else to add to that. If they could dust off their bottles and/or keep their product in a cool place (like a walk-in cooler...a man can wish, right?), watch out.

(Update 3/17/14: Re-visited for the first time in five years. So much product, so little room to wiggle around. It feels clusterphobic, and I haven't seen much improvement regarding beer freshness (check those dates). However, checkout was superb, throwing in a 10% discount when you buy a case equivalent of beer.

Photo of PhxHorn
4/5  rDev -5.4%

This is the sister store of Sun Devil in Mesa. Much different layout, though. Lots of boxes piled high, but to me it's kind of cool. When you walk around, you're just surrounded by beer everywhere. Excellent selection, even though some of the beer has been there quite awhile. They have some Green Flash that has been there since 2005. It's worth noting that if Sun Devil is out of something, Top's might have it and vice versa. They receive shipments at different times. The staff tends to be more friendly and helpful than Sun Devil, which is inconsistent. Anyone in the Tempe area should definitely put this place at the top of their list.

Photo of BretSikkink
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

I can't believe I've never reviewed Top's. This is the premier Tempe location for buying bottled beer, and short of Sun Devil in Mesa, the finest in the Valley.

Top's has a wide, varied selection of imports and domestics, and includes several beers that you can't find anywhere else (again, short of Sun Devil). Although the store isn't particularly free of clutter, it is organized by country of origin, and it isn't difficult to find what you want - once you know how the store is laid out. Poke around.

The fridges are well-stocked, though I would prefer to have more choices for the cold beers if possible. There's a ton of stuff there, but I've often had everything (that I want to drink). New beers sometimes make it to the fridge, which is nice, but not often the imports.

The folks at Top's are knowledgeable and friendly. They've been nothing but helpful, although I rarely ask for help. I have observed them assisting with style choice, etc. and they seem to do a fine job.

Top's is the shit, I go there all the time. Some imports are pretty pricey, but given their rarity it's usually an acceptable price. If you can find bottles elsewhere for more a dollar less, I don't know about it.

Photo of bretseeley
3.35/5  rDev -20.8%

The first thing you notice when you walk into this place are the boxes of beer stacked in the aisles about eight feet high. This place has a lot of beer - a lot more than you would expect from a little strip mall store. There's also a pretty dang impressive stash of any other kind of alcohol you can imagine. The selection is very good. I saw some brews that I've never seen at any other store in the area. The prices are pretty good. I picked up a couple 22 oz bottles of He'brew Lenny's RIPA for only $4.99 each, which is a great price.

Now for the bad. The feel of this store doesn't make you want to hang out there for very long. While they have some interesting brews, you're pretty much on your own in finding them. The store is disorganized, almost sloppy, but that's not surprising since it's located in an older college campus area. I didn't have much interaction with the staff, but it seemed like you would have to seek them out to get any help.

Let me put it this way: if Tops were a restaurant, I wouldn't take my family to eat there. However, the prospect of finding some gems at a good price make it worth checking out every few months or so.

Photo of bikesandbrew
4.8/5  rDev +13.5%

My very first impression of Top’s was that the owner was attempting to lure patrons by stocking every promotional bottle and seasonal release for every liqueur and cheap beer known to man from the past half-century. Every shelf and available space was occupied by bottles and boxes of bottles of every shape, size, color and category. This hasty judgment, extending as far as my expectation of the staff, could NOT have been further from the truth. Further inspection made it immediately apparent the enormity and breadth of both product and knowledge of the staff. It is worth noting that despite its sometimes cluttered appearance, the layout of the store and product placement makes it exceptionally easy to find what you are looking for. On rare occasions have I had the privilege of perusing a store containing such a rich selection of beer as does Top’s Liquor. Aside from a beer selection that would make Homer Simpson weep, their equally impressive selection of wine and spirits of all variety and label makes me wonder why a person would ever shop anywhere else in the Valley. Furthermore, the ability of the customer to mix-and-match a six-pack is the perfect way for the customer to take advantage of the amazing selection. This allows the experienced connoisseur to further extend their knowledge and love for great beer with hard to find and coveted brews, while giving those relatively new to craft beer the chance to experiment with a diversity of choices. There truly is something for everyone at Top’s Liquor.

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Tops Liquors in Tempe, AZ
93 out of 100 based on 41 ratings.