Friar Tuck Beverage
Ratings: 23 | Reviews: 20 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by bluemoonswoon:
3.65/5 rDev -9%
quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $
Stopped by here last weekend. Been to the Peoria location and this one looks just a bit bigger, but maybe that's just the high ceilings. This place I think could be classified as a downstate Binny's as they are sort of laid out the same way with so much beer all over the place. Much like the Peoria location there is no shortage of beers to choose from, focus is mostly domestic micros with a smattering of imports and Belgians, not much representation from the lambic or gueze departments though. Also freshness tends to be an issue with at least some of the beers here. They have Goose Island Imperial IPA still on the shelves here even though that beer hasn't been in production for about two years now. Best by date on that beer was April of 08, so yeah, there's that. But if you are up to date on beers then you probably already know what is fresh and what's not and they do a pretty good job here, it seems, of keeping their stockpiles fresh. Also this being downstate Illinois the prices our cheaper than dirt which is always nice.
08-20-2009 20:11:44 | More by bluemoonswoon
More User Reviews:
3.66/5 rDev -8.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$
Stopped in here to check it out just before my buddy and college roommate got married down the street. I'd heard some very good things about the chain, but I'd never really been down to the more central part of the state before, so I couldn't verify anything.
The place is a large-ish space, similar to a Binny's, Total Wine, or any other high-volume liquor purveyor, though it had that dimly-lit, almost-sorta/kinda-leaning-toward-Whole-Foods-style kind of atmosphere to it (if that makes any sense). The beer is on the left when entering, with liquor, homebrew supplies (always nice to see), and other assorted merchandise (okay, I really didn't look at the rest of the place very closely...) filling th rest of the space. The selection was nice and extensise, as I would expect it to be, given the size of the store. They seemed to have just about everything their distribution channels will allow, or, failing that, a very strong representation thereof. It's still a shock to me to see Ballast Point out here in IL, what with the greater Chicagoland area being bereft... There was a decent mix-a-six selection near the rear, which I partook of heartily to the tune of a makeshift 12-pack. I'm fairly certain I passed the beer guy a couple times, but there was no real interaction between us. Frankly, I don't mind this very much, as I tend to prefer to just browse unless I have a specific question, but a "Hello" or something would've been nice. The prices seemed more than fair, very similar to the prices up here in Lake County (I didn't expect much, if any, of a difference, though, anyway).
Overall, I'd say this place lives up to its reputation as pretty much THE source for a grea beer selection in the area. If I lived or spent any appreciable time down in the area, I'd most likely be shopping here quite often...
10-02-2012 15:18:53 | More by TMoney2591
3.8/5 rDev -5.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$
Shop is in a strip mall in a retail street in Savoy. Actual retail space is in a "big box" type store, essentially a Best Buy or Toys R Us for beer, wine, and liquor. The inside of the store is fairly warehouse-like, with fluorescent lighting and metal shelves devoted to holding product. Don't expect decoration. That being said, the place is clean and well-organized. In the beer aisle (a very long aisle) the center is generally where the specials and/or seasonal beers are.
I agree with some other reviewers that freshness for some beers may be an issue. This is particularly true for lesser-purchased European imports. Look for the bottling date on bottles or, if lacking, the amount of dust that's accumulated on the bottle. If you know a US release is seasonal and you find it out of season, I wouldn't purchase unless it's one that can age well. That being said, I've only had a few questionable beers in about four years of regularly visiting the store, so I don' think the issues are that serious.
Selection is nearly excellent, the only things lacking being a smallish selection of English beers and no availability of wilds/lambics/gueuzes.
Service is a little lacking as far as knowledge about styles and availability, I don't think the person who is responsible for beer selection is in particularly often. Employee numbers for the entire store are fairly low, so getting service in the aisles is a bit rare. At least the staff is unobtrusive and can be found, for help, if needed.
Between here and the Picadilly off Neil Street in Champaign, bottled craft beer needs should be met in the CU area.
09-06-2011 04:48:40 | More by falloutsnow
4/5 rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | $$$$
This is the second Friar Tuck I visit in Central Illinois (after Springfield). Layout and size of the store is just about the same as in Springfield: mostly wine and liquor but a huge amount of beer as well.
It roughly goes like this: one big cooler with some bombers and six-packs, lots of pallets with mostly Midwest brews sitting on the floor, a singles and mix-a-six section, a "rare bomber" section and a room-temp aisle with all sorts of six-packs from all over the US and beyond. Selection is (and it goes without saying) exceptional.
I'm living in Decatur, some 50 miles from Champaign, and there is almost nothing good in terms of craft beer around here. So imagine what it is like to drive said some 50 miles east, through endless rows of corn and soybeans and suddenly stop at a shopping mall with a beer store that has everything from Lost Abbey to Mikkeller to vintage beers and obscure Midwest breweries. Heaven? Fuck Yeah.
I saw Port Brewing (Mongo, Older Viscosity, Anniversary Ale and Santa's Little Helper), Hoppin' Frog, Bell's (Third Coast 4-packs), Mikkeller (Single Hop, Beer Geek and else), Nogne and other Scandinavian brews; Pannepot Reserva '08, Abbaye du Bon Chien (aged bottles); Lost Abbey, Boulevard (the Smokestack series, including the Imperial Stout); Baird Beer from Japan... and this is just the rarer stuff!
Price is an issue, as is the lack of service. Most bombers are $7.99, and most six-packs are $9.99. Specialty 4-packs are around $15.99. Folks, this is what I pay in New York City!!! Sure, there are a lot of beers here I cannot get in the East Coast, but still...
What I cannot complain about is the quality. Some reviewers have mentioned the dustiness of many bottles or how little the stock moves at this store- I have no issues with that. Yes, there is some aged stuff, but not in a bad way (as in, no expired IPA's, but some three-year-old Christmas beers).
Prices aside, the selection here is off the charts for Central Illinois, and I will be coming back as long as I am stuck in Decatur.
07-28-2011 03:54:25 | More by DoubleSimcoe
4.22/5 rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
This was my go-to place for everything during my tenure at U of I and I was very sad when I had to graduate because I know I would be leaving this place.
It's in a giant warehouse-type building (think CostCo but decorated.) The beers are all along the wall to the left side after the homebrewing equipment and supplies. There are specials and deals on beer in the middle of the aisles and last time I was there they had a shelf dedicated to "highly rated stouts" which was pretty cool to see. They use rate beer and beer advocate shelf tags.
Selection was outstanding, especially for the area. A huge amount of sixers make up about 30% of the beer wall with the other 65% dedicated to bombers, 750ml's, etc. The tail end 5% of the wall is dedicated to an extremely large mix-a-six selection and it's broken down into specific style which is nice. I came here a lot during my experimental days when I was getting into craft beer. Great way to try as many as can. It was only $7.99 when I started doing it, but has since gone up to $9.99.
There really aren't enough employees working though which is a knack on the place. I've been there 50+ times and I've only seen/talked to the beer guy a handful of times. Most of the time I just had questions about releases so it wasn't really a pressing matter.
Overall I really love this place and if I ever head back in this direction I will be certain to stop and drop a pretty penny here.
06-22-2011 01:22:24 | More by Treebs
4.1/5 rDev +2.2%
quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Was my go to beer store for my undergraduate years at University of Illinois.
The quality of this place is great, think Binnys for Central / Southern IL. They routinely get the limited / one off's that make us beer geeks content. It also hosts weekend craft tastings that range from average to very nice, but are a great way to expose non-craft drinkers to better beer options.
My biggest beef with the quality of the good at Friar Tucks is the way they treat their homebrewing supplies. While it is obvious that they are not specializing in homebrewing, the lack of refrigeration for the hops and dry yeasts is disconcerting to say the least. Additionally, the grain mill that they use will give you a very poor crush that is nearly unsuitable for all grain brewing. I have to knock off points on the quality scale for this issue.
The service at Friar Tucks has been very good in my experience. The beer manager / purchaser Blaine has been a very helpful guy who has always been able to answer distribution and inventory questions. Additionally, they are willing to hold things (KBS / Utopias / Sculpin) in the back for me if I happen to be out of town or unable to pick it up as soon as it comes in.
The selection of craft beers is extensive. A huge wall of warm craft options from the United States with an emphasis on Midwestern breweries (Founders, Bells, Goose, Schlafly, Boulevard) . Additionally they have a large section of good imports from Germany and Belgium, but are a little weak on the stuff from the UK. They also get some really nice stuff in that I don't find in the Chicago suburbs (Abbaye de Saint Bon Chien, Saint Somewhere, Ballast Point, De Molen, etc...)
They also have a large cold storage area, but is mostly dedicated to BMC products. However, they always have the classic German imports cold for quick consumption (Schneider, Weihnstephan). They also have a very extensive mix a six selection, but be sure to check date codes if your buying IPA's, Pales, Lagers and other beers that should be consumed fresh.
A very nice store that is not without its flaws. However, it served me well during my 4+ years at UofI and I highly recommend anyone passing through the area to check it out.
07-26-2010 05:00:25 | More by Gonzoillini
4/5 rDev -0.2%
quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
3rd Friar Tucks location i've been to. This one seemed cleaner and newer, complete with that new store smell. There was some construction on Curtis Rd, amidst the cornfields, so watch for detour signs.
There was one employee on the floor doing inventory, who was very knowledgeable regarding my beer question. I was on a quest for Lambics, and sadly only found the full Lindemans line here, with Kriek de Ranke as a runner-up. Apparently the local distributor had dropped Cantillon due to supply issues.
The beer aisle was on the far left, a small station of winemaking/homebrew supplies, then a long sea of six-packs. Bombers and imports were further down, with cases of seasonal beers stacked in islands on the floor. Plenty of craft & imports in the coolers too, with minikegs in the walk in. On the shelf, I noticed some of the high end Scandinavian imports i've only seen in Chicago, such as Nøgne Ø, Amager, Haandbryggeriet, Nørrebro Bryghus, etc. Also De Ranke, De Molen, and Abbaye de St. Bon Chien. Boulevard 2 Jokers Imp. Wit was here, only place i've seen it so far in IL. Plenty of Fantome, I think the seasonal ones were even on sale. Christmas beer was on an endcap already, which seemed suspicious for early September, most likely last year's stock. Boulevard, Schlafly, Heavy Seas, and Mad River were a few things exclusive to central IL that we don't see in Chicago.
There was only one cashier working, but he was cheerful and friendly. Overall the experience was pleasant, and i'd return if passing through C-U again.
09-08-2009 15:35:47 | More by emerge077
Friar Tuck Beverage in Savoy, IL
90 out of 100 based on 23 ratings.