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Armanetti Wine Shoppe & Beverage Mart

Not Rated.
Armanetti Wine Shoppe & Beverage MartArmanetti Wine Shoppe & Beverage Mart
BA SCORE
96
world-class

56 Ratings
Ratings: 56
Reviews: 56
rAvg: 4.38
pDev: 17.35%
[ Store ]

3530 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, Illinois, 60657-1104
United States
phone: (773) 529-0288
// CLOSED //



Notes:
May 2012: Liquor license revoked.

(Place added by: TheLoneGunman)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 56 | Reviews: 56 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by bluemoonswoon:
Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.7/5  rDev +7.3%

Stopped in today and I have to say this is one of the nicest beer stores I've been to as of yet. Everything is clean, not a speck of dust on the bottles or a bunch of unopened boxes of beer and bombers covering the ground, selection is on par if not better than Sam's or Binnys chicago locations and doesn't have that warehouse feel. They even had Gumballhead which I have been unable to find anywhere else as of late. Peche Mortel, every high end offering from allagash, some Cantillion, Flossmoor station, a few different versions of Fantome, two big shelves one dedicated to domestic micro singles and the other dedicated to imported micros. Prices are on par with most other stores with some being a bit higher or a bit lower from brew to brew. Staff friendly if just a bit aloof, excellent store and I will be sure to stop in again if I am in the area.

Not as many Belgains as say West Lakeview but does better in the domestic areana.

bluemoonswoon, Aug 19, 2008
More User Reviews:
Photo of emerge077
1.55/5  rDev -64.6%

Armanettis deserves a re-review in light of the widespread poor service discussed in the Great Lakes forum, as well as my firsthand experiences:

http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/2579904
http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/3205540

More accounts on Yelp:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/armanetti-wine-shoppe-and-beverage-mart-chicago?rpp=40&sort_by=rating_asc

http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=wec0NqmYVIgONWasXb889g

You just can't make this stuff up...

Armanettis used to be a regular stop for me, but I don't shop there anymore.

After shopping there weekly over the last several years, I was lectured by the owner on a random, unprovoked tirade about "customer loyalty", and was treated like i'd never spent a dime in the store before. Another time I asked if they sold branded beer glasses. Steve looks at me all funny, then goes and grabs some random glass from under the counter, hands it to me and says "don't say I never gave you nothing" like he was doing a huge favor.

Passive/aggressive behavior and widespread poor treatment of customers by the owner is the key issue here. Steve has some anger management issues that manifest on random customers... you never know if you'll catch him in a good or bad mood. Expect gloating arrogance and hostile condescension if its the latter. Why anyone would continue to support this business is beyond me, unless they haven't encountered Steve's Dr. Jeckyll side yet, which you don't usually see after 1-2 random visits. Even if he "changed his tune" recently due to bad press, his actions have already spoken.

The selection is good, but there's not anything you can't find elsewhere. They also have a "members only" card program that excludes people from access to buying limited beers that are sitting on the shelf for all to see. If you don't have an extended sales history (tracked by your card), you aren't worthy of buying "members only" beers on the shelf. This is clearly not beer advocacy. Maybe some with entitlement issues crave some perceived "exclusive vip treatment", personally I don't need a liquor store owner to make me feel special. Just sell beer without the mind games.

The high reviews prior to 2008 were based on the original ownership by the Armanetti family, which skew the current reviews unfortunately.

How did Armanetti's get such a great beer selection?
The selection you see today was originally pioneered by Dave/BA thelonegunman and his father who opened the store, then sold off the family business to Steve a few years later. Focus was on Midwest micros like FFF, Dark Horse, Flossmoor, Half Acre, and Belgians, though i've bought expired imports here on occasion, and Flossmoor IPA's would sit around for a year or two in the recent past.

With so many options nearby like West Lakeview, Lush on Roscoe, Pellys, and Whole Foods, I have no problem finding great craft beer elsewhere. Not to mention people who are passionate about beer and treat their customers like human beings.

emerge077, Jun 02, 2011
Photo of beernightscout
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%

Small edit...compared to Lush, Armanetti's is a steal.

This is my main store for the last several years. I'm in there pretty much every week (usualy with my kids on Saturdays). I spend about $1000 a year here. There is a reason for this mildly irrational behavior.

Yes, the selection is great, it's the best AMERICAN craft beer store in the city, with a focus on local/regional stuff (rare Flossmoor beers, Goose Island rarities, all rare Bells and Founders, etc). Imports have a recent increased focus (Fantome, many Belgians, the good Shelton Brothers stuff). They also have many great wines and somewhat rarer spirits, too.

But -- I come here because I'm treated like a regular should be treated at a small, family-owned store: They will get only a case of a rare beer and dole it our by the bottle to their truly regular cutomers. It's the only way I can get some of the really rare stuff they get in; some stores will let some goon come buy a whole case of 2009 Nemesis before I even know it was in the market, but Armanetti's made sure I got a bottle, same with Goose Island Coffee BCS, same with Brooklyn Black Ops....Is that fair? Depends on your perspective, I suppose. For me and my friends who spend waaaay too much money here, we appreciate the thoughtfulness, since we can't go beer shopping during the week very easily, but can usually make it on weekends.

The only real beef with this place is that the owner won't let someone -- anyone -- come in and buy him out of something rare. Get over it, or make yourself a regular. I'd go with being a regular (unless you don't have a job because you are independently wealthy and you can drive around all week looking for new releases as they come in...sigh).

So...Coffee Bourbon County Stout was sold out instantly at Binny's, but I got two bottles, $8 each, at Armanetti's. Who do you think gets my business?

Honestly, you can find beer cheaper in the city. A small, family-owned store of ANY stripe (like Paulina Meat Market down the street, where they let me cut in line in front of 30 people because I'm a regular) will cost more than a big, impersonal chain-store or Jewel. I say, if you are shopping at a small business regularly, you're in it for the mutual relationship, not just what you can get out of it. So I'll pay more for Bigfoot at Armanetti's than I will at Binny's, but I have Nemesis saved for me even after Binny's sold out of it in a day.

And you should look out for deals here. I lived off 8-buck-a-case Point Maibock and $2 bombers of Redhook coffee stout last summer...and the frequent customer card gives you $10 for every $250 you spend. For me, that's $30-$40 of free beer a year. (NOTE: On-sale beers don't count toward your totals, so just watch your receipt, make sure you get credited your "points". If a beer comes up on "sale" but isn't, it's a mistake, have them credit your points.) And if it really is overpriced, just point it out to them or buy it somewhere else. Vote with your wallet like you do everywhere else. I don't buy ALL my beer here.

So: Armanetti's can be pricey compared to Binny's and Jewel, and even other small beer stores, that's fair. But they have the best service and AMERICAN beer selection of any beer store I've been to in Chicago, with world-class imports, too. I happen to like Steve's intensity (though I've had friends say he intimidated them) and Kathy's contrasting easy-going grace (she's NOT intimidating, but just in on the weekends). If Zach (Zak?) is there, you are in luck. Dave will be great once he tries more New Glarus, so he understand true greatness.

You will find something great here. Become a regular, and reap the rewards.

beernightscout, Jun 02, 2011
Photo of MarcatGSB
4.74/5  rDev +8.2%

Some brutal reviews on this place, I have to say.
Steve is a strong minded business owner, and has done his work to make a business strong in the competitive Chicago Wine & Spirits world. I see Steve as someone who is fed up with the attitude that some of us "beer geeks" take towards certain beers that are harder to get than others. He has that right, it is his business. There are clientele that make it viable for him to stay in the business. The folks that purchase 6 packs there on their way home from work, the people that buy six $10 bottles of wine. He does not stay in business by us beer geeks who venture in to buy one bottle of KBS, and insult him as a business man because he won't sell you and your family a bottle each. Everyone knows how this works. Props to Steve for holding onto his value as a small business owner, and loyal to his core customers.

The store has a great selection of craft beer. Mostly focused on the American beer scene, he does have a generous selection of Belgians and German beers. A really nice build your own 6 pack selection, at different, affordable levels. He stocks alot of beers you wont find at Binny's and some of the bigger stores around town.

It's worth the trip. Make your own decision. If you'd like to support a small business in your community, rather than feed the beast, make the stop, take a look, and judge for yourself. Steve is a good man, runs a tight ship, and sticks to his values. Gotta respect that.

MarcatGSB, Mar 16, 2011
Photo of KickInTheChalice
2.75/5  rDev -37.2%

What can I say about Armanetti that has not already been said? They have an owner that despite a debilitating anger management problem has managed to put together a fairly strong craft beer selection.

In terms of value, I think it is very expensive, once you factor in the cost of the emotional abuse you are likely to face. The actual prices are higher than other places too.

I have never had a genuinely good experience here, but going there for Bourbon County Vanilla was the worst. I called ahead of time, asking very politely if they could please hold a bottle for me. No, I'm sorry, it's first come first serve. When would they be getting it in? When the truck gets there. Today? Maybe. Thanks.

When I walk in, the display is somewhat out of the way to really discourage people from getting to it, unlike the fanfare the special releases get at Binny's. It's like they don't want walk in customers to be able to buy "the best stuff." So I grab a bottle, walk around, and end up picking up two more single bottles of beer, a 12 oz. and a 22 oz. When I go to check out, the owner says, "Just the Bourbon County Vanilla and a couple of limited releases? I shouldn't even sell you these, I never see you in here." Shocked, I responded that I had stopped in a few times. "Oh yea, I think I remember you coming in to buy other limited releases. You never buy any of the regular stuff."

There is always something going on that betrays the rules of good customer service and usually human decency. No thanks.

KickInTheChalice, Jan 25, 2011
Photo of jrallen34
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%

I've heard so many bad stories about this place I've stayed away forever. Finally made it here on my way to Lush. Located on busy Lincoln, I was lucky to find a spot out front, but say they have parking in the back. Big store, not overly nice. I was greeted nicely upon walking in and was asked if I needed help twice. The people working there seemed very knowledgable in beer and wine as I eaves dropped on them helping other people. They had 3 rows of beer, very high quality and tons of it. Mostly focused on American craft staples, don't recall seeing anything that isn't other places. Huge Lost Abbey and GI selection. Lots of Cantillon and they have have the new De Cam Lambiek. Most beer seems overstocked, perhaps its their reputation. This place is a little out of my way but I would go back if there was something I couldn't find. On the pricey side though.

jrallen34, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of Weebay
4.85/5  rDev +10.7%

Update Nov/2010:
Despite what I read here, I figured I would go back to Armanetti's on my return to Chicago, with Lakeview just down the street I would just cut and run if I got any flack. However, the service was the same for me as before. I had a list of what I was looking for; one of the employee's grabbed a cart and started filling the order for me as I browsed for other beers to pick up. They let me and my girlfriend use their washroom and helped carry everything out to the car. I wonder what it is with them that causes them to treat some people so well and other's so poorly.

Original review:
Reviewed on: 05-26-2010 14:45:21
Read about Armanetti's here on BeerAdvocate and had to check it out on a long weekend get away to Chicago.

I have to say that the selection was great; it was the only liquor store in town that I went to that had Three Floyd's Dreadnaught in stock that weekend. Their selection of American Craft Beers was amazing.

As I was only in the US for the weekend I wanted to stock up on as much as I could to bring back with me, and they had no problem with me taking over one of their counters while I made my selections. The gentleman behind the counter looked at the beers I was selecting and made some excellent recommendations based on them. They were also doing a wine tasting when I was there which served as an excellent distraction for my girlfriend, allowing me ample time to make all of my selections.

After reading the other reviews I wanted to note that I didn't see any "member's only" selections, but I did see a few limit one per customer selections for rare beers. I missed out on the bottle conditioned Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.

In terms of price, I noticed for things like the Hercules Double IPA they were about a dollar more than Binny's, but really I was more than happy to pay the difference for the helpful service and better selection. They were nice enough to help me carry everything out to my car afterwards.

On a side note, they also had the full selection of Goose Island Craft Soda's which we were having a hard time finding.

I will be coming back here next time I'm in Chicago without a doubt.

Weebay, Nov 29, 2010
Photo of tjdemon
3.1/5  rDev -29.2%

11/2010 update:

I no longer support this store as their customer service is terrible. I became a regular years ago because Len and Dave Armanetti always went out of their way to be friendly and helpful. The current owner seems to enjoy going out of his way to be the exact opposite. While I have never incurred his wrath, I have seen it unleashed on employees and other customers a few times. My money now goes to Binny's and West Lakeview.

---

I live on Chicago's north side and hadn't heard of this wonderful establishment until reading the Beer Advocate website.

I stopped in last Friday afternoon (6/2) and Dave and his colleagues were extemely helpful and friendly. I was trying a few different stouts and was given some very good recommendations for cheese/food pairings.

The only drawback was the lack of St. Bernardus brews (at least at the time), but Dave noted there had been some local distribution problems. The remainder of their selection, however, (both cold and overall) was top notch.

I didn't stay for the tasting, but that's definitely an added bonus on Fridays. I will definitely be back - thanks again Dave and Co.!!

tjdemon, Nov 19, 2010
Photo of innersanctum
5/5  rDev +14.2%

Armanetti is an absolute must for domestic and import brews. Their selection is thorough, and the staff are knowledgeable. These are real nice, thoughtful people whom you want to do business with. Their prices are very competitive too, so Binney's my friend (I love you too) you'd better watch out :) !

They'll even have a lolipop handy for your grouchy, whiney, pesky kid who's repeatedly saying, "dad when are we going to leave this place I'm soooo bored!". Magically you've got a happy lolipopen suckin kid who's next question is, "daddy, when are we going back to Armanetti's".

innersanctum, Jul 29, 2010
Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
3.84/5  rDev -12.3%

I visited this store and several others on a trip to Chicago to see if I could find some beers that I can't get in California. I have to admit, the beer selection was good here. Probably the best overall selection I found in Chicago. But the service left a lot to be desired, with what I'd call a "beer nazi" type of owner (I later found LOTS of interesting stories to complement my own). It seems you have to be a regular here that spends good money to get the good treatment.

My wife and I drove a good distance through Chicago traffic to get to this store, and my wife asked to use the bathroom when we arrived, which they wouldn't allow as their bathroom wasn't for customers. No problem, she used one at a restaurant across the street where we weren't customers.

Then I grabbed four Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stouts as the first of many selections, and took them up to the front counter but was told there was a limit of one per person. No problem again; this limitation is probably why we were able to find these beers here. I took two back and kept one for me and one for my wife. Then my wife was told she couldn't buy one because she was with me. My wife joked how she felt she wasn't being treated very well, and that got the owner very upset. He gave my wife and I a ten minute lecture on how he thought my wife was frictional, and that we were free to leave if we didn't like his service, and on and on about how he didn't need us as customers (while at the same time showing us some of his rare beers that we might miss out on). We were in disbelief at how long this guy talked down to us. I even warned him that I might do a BA review if he didn't stop, but that didn't deter him. A "normal" businessman would have simply replied with "I'm sorry you feel that way, I hope you understand" and left it at that. And we might have understood.

Fine, we only bought the one bottle and got the rest of our beers from other Chicago beer stores, such as West Lakeview. Friendlier service there, and a great selection too! We were even able to find four bottles of Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout at Marion Street Cheese Market.

Nevertheless, if you can put up with the poor service, there's definitely a great selection here.

Falcon91Wolvrn03, Jun 02, 2010
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Armanetti Wine Shoppe & Beverage Mart in Chicago, IL
96 out of 100 based on 56 ratings.