1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

What is the best 'beer shop' in Texas? and then america?

Discussion in 'US - Southwest' started by kaidasz, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. kaidasz

    kaidasz Aficionado (145) Texas Apr 3, 2010

    When i say beer shop, i mean a place where bottled beer is featured/sold AND considered "off premise" aka no serving allowed. On the east coast, there are hundreds of killer bottle shops that morph into cheese and sausage shops as well. I would like some BA input into the best Texas has to offer and then onward into their best experiences across our country.

    Any questions, shoot me a bm.
  2. icetrauma

    icetrauma Savant (485) Texas Sep 7, 2004

    Over all Spec's downtown location.
  3. miikezombie

    miikezombie Savant (335) Texas Aug 13, 2010

    Have no idea for Texas, but some of my favorites across the country are...

    Bruisin Ales & Appalachian Vinter in Asheville, North Carolina
    John's Market & Belmont Station in Portland, Oregon
    City Beer Store and Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, California
  4. kaidasz

    kaidasz Aficionado (145) Texas Apr 3, 2010

  5. kaidasz

    kaidasz Aficionado (145) Texas Apr 3, 2010

    thanks MZ, those appear to be primo. Will have to check them out closer...
  6. ehsteve

    ehsteve Aficionado (225) Texas Jan 13, 2009

    If not for the "no serving allowed" stipulation, I think it'd have to be Whip In.
  7. miikezombie

    miikezombie Savant (335) Texas Aug 13, 2010

    Being from Texas, I take most (of our)stores for granted. Kind of a been there done that.

    I've always liked Whip In in Austin, but a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with that store.
  8. icetrauma

    icetrauma Savant (485) Texas Sep 7, 2004

  9. pwsoldier

    pwsoldier Advocate (540) Texas Apr 26, 2007


    Good luck with that. The best beer stores in TX are liquor stores.

    The best I've seen outside of TX is The Perfect Pour in Elkridge, MD. A bit pricey, but it has one of the best selections I've seen on the East Coast. I picked up Lolita and ┬žucaba off the shelf last time I was there. The only better selection I've seen is at Max's Taphouse in Baltimore, and you're paying bar prices for to-go bottles there.
    jwff likes this.
  10. galvetraz

    galvetraz Aficionado (105) Texas Sep 7, 2009

    I have to vote for D&Q in Houston also. Brandon knows his stuff and let's you mix six packs on many of them.
    Daemose likes this.
  11. kaidasz

    kaidasz Aficionado (145) Texas Apr 3, 2010

    2 questions??? why a love/hate relationship w/whip in? i have frequented 6+ times, all have been above par imo. Well, the prices are a bit high...

    Also, for Houstonians, why has there not been a world class bottle shop opened by now, is there a TABC black cloud?
  12. miikezombie

    miikezombie Savant (335) Texas Aug 13, 2010

    You would need to ask an Austin-ite.
  13. Because you simply cannot compete with Specs and HEB in this town.

    My vote is for D&Q
  14. icetrauma

    icetrauma Savant (485) Texas Sep 7, 2004

    This is true. Spec's dominates the special releases and at times, gets the only shipment of said release. And, they limit it to the Downtown location. Ex. Avery Uncle Jacob's.
  15. Lutter

    Lutter Advocate (650) Texas Jun 30, 2010

    IMHO... Gabriel's on 1604/Blanco in San Antonio & Central Market Westgate beer section in Austin.

    It also helps that their beer guys are BAs and know their stuff.
    Chuk_Hell likes this.
  16. miikezombie

    miikezombie Savant (335) Texas Aug 13, 2010

    Yeah I can't wait till they get their exclusive shipments of Cantillon and Russian River.
    pwsoldier likes this.
  17. champ103

    champ103 Champion (860) Texas Sep 3, 2007

    Well, I really enjoy Specs. Always had great service and relationships there. They have gotten a lot of flack lately on this site, when before it was nothing but love. I like D&Q, but they are not the best IMO. Premium Draught is going to be big. Just give them some time.
  18. lokieman

    lokieman Savant (475) Oklahoma Jan 20, 2011

    Gotta go with Sunrise Mini Mart...I know, I know it's a gas station/convenience store but it has more to do with the personal attention. I work right down the street and I'm in there at least 5 days a week and Sam and the boys definitely take care of me. They have a great beer selection...probably not the best but still one of the best in Austin. Sometimes service and personal attention trump price and selection and Sunrise definitely fits that bill for me. I guess it's a place that if you're "in" you love but if not then you might resent. Guess I'm "in"....
  19. Lutter

    Lutter Advocate (650) Texas Jun 30, 2010

    Too many goddamn hipsters.

    I don't venture there past 5pm because of this.
    Clonies720 likes this.
  20. Azzy

    Azzy Savant (290) Texas Jul 16, 2012

    This is the reason. Say you want to pick up a few bottles of beer, say 5. If you go to D&Q and you are on a budget, you are going to be paying $10-$20 more than you would at Specs. Specs dominates the market, not just in beer and wine but overall. There is a reason why in other states restaurants can make money selling wine to go, but in Texas, Specs sells at a better price than anyone ever can anywhere else, and recently HEB has been selling at lower prices than Specs. They have more money and more stores to distribute a product to. They can afford to buy a truckload of beer/wine and evenly distribute it across the state...
  21. frognot

    frognot Aficionado (210) Texas May 20, 2009

    Put me in the love category. I've been there 3 or 4 times but always lunch or early afternoon so have avoided hipster infestation. Cool place to eat & have a few beers & get a couple of growler fills. Dipak is an interesting guy to shoot the breeze with & the bartenders have always been friendly and helpful. Wish we had a place like this in Dallas.
  22. icetrauma

    icetrauma Savant (485) Texas Sep 7, 2004

    Maaaaaan, I wish D&Q would get the growler fills back.
    FUNKPhD and jaymesbawned like this.
  23. galvetraz

    galvetraz Aficionado (105) Texas Sep 7, 2009

    I know Brandon was working on getting the growler fills back but that is a whole other level of liscensing with the TABC. I haven't asked about it in a long time so I don't know if he is still pursuing it. I haven't been to Premium Draught yet so it will be interesting to see how their bottle selection stacks up with their growler taps. I think it has only been open for a few weeks now, need to head over to the Heights and check it out.
  24. DanzBorin

    DanzBorin Initiate (0) Texas Apr 11, 2012

    Midtown Specs beer department is full of the most rude employees. They don't give a crap about anybody but the regulars they hold back large quantities for and then lie to other customers. It's not a good experience.

    D&Q is more expensive, but he's personable, has a great selection and is very straight forward.

    The smaller specs tend to have very friendly staff, but hardly ever get anything even remotely limited because, guess what, the Midtown store keeps it for themselves. For instance, smaller Specs do not get Jester King unless it's the huge releases. Funk Metal, nope... Uberkind, nope... Buddha's, nope... Wunderkind, nope... Commercial Suicide, nope... I understand on the critically low shipments like Whiskey Rodeo and such, but they keep anything that sells and ship out stuff that sits on the shelf forever.
    Clonies720 likes this.
  25. champ103

    champ103 Champion (860) Texas Sep 3, 2007

    I have shopped at the Midtown Specs for years. I have never had a problem with anybody working there. I will say it has become a little less hands on than it use to be. Though, I guess I don't need to be coddled and reassured that every new beer release will be in my hands the second they get it. I have always loved the service, from Onslow, TheGentleman, SpecsBeerman, elwhite, to Lindsy. I remember when Specs used to be talked about in the same regard as D&Q around here. Well before anybody even know about D&Q.
  26. DanzBorin

    DanzBorin Initiate (0) Texas Apr 11, 2012

    They always act like they have no time for me. Even when it's dead. You ask a question and it's like you are making them work extra hard.

    At my local Specs the beer guy will recommend things, tell you the new arrivals, and if it's slow BS with you for a bit. At Midtown I have to chase the people down to get a one word answer as they walk away.

    I still go because I have to, but rarely feel like anyone helpful works there. My girlfriend used to live about a mile away so I went in there pretty regularly.
  27. crusian

    crusian Advocate (620) Oregon May 14, 2010

    Looking at stats and ratings over 5 reviews....
    D&Q then Gabriel's.
  28. champ103

    champ103 Champion (860) Texas Sep 3, 2007

    You need to meet SpecsBeerMan, and should have met TheGentleman when he still worked there. If TheGentleman saw you, you were not leaving the store for another hour and a half, he would talk so much. Those two have done more than anybody I know of in Houston to get good beer here. Ridiculous relationships with distributors and breweries. You can still find TheGentleman behind the bar at some of the Flying Saucers.
  29. DanzBorin

    DanzBorin Initiate (0) Texas Apr 11, 2012

    I think I have actually met him before (TheGentleman) before at a Saucer. lol

    I'll go next time and just yell out, "Hello, is SpecsBeerMan here?!". :)
    champ103 likes this.
  30. UHCougar12

    UHCougar12 Savant (465) Texas Feb 21, 2011

    If its the same guy im thinking of his name is Joey. Dude was awesome. He was the reason I got into craft beer. He would always explain what the styles were, and why I would like them. Now all the employees are just employees, and dont care much for the advocacy.
    champ103 likes this.
  31. Chuk_Hell

    Chuk_Hell Aficionado (220) Texas Apr 12, 2012

    Maybe the less than excellent customer service at larger retailers has to do with the low wages that are offered. If someone doesn't feel they are being fairly compensated then they are not going to be well motivated.
  32. DanzBorin

    DanzBorin Initiate (0) Texas Apr 11, 2012

    Just came back from another Specs. Had a nice pleasant conversation with the beer person. I doubt the smaller Specs have some ability to pay a bunch more than others. ;)
  33. Chuk_Hell

    Chuk_Hell Aficionado (220) Texas Apr 12, 2012

    Well, there are always exceptions; folks who will do the best work they can regardless of what they are being paid. Sadly this attitude seems to rare these days.

    The way I see it mom and pop places will always have better customer service because, more than likely you are dealing with an entrepreneur who is personally invested in the bussiness as opposed to a wage earner who is just putting in his 40 hours with as little effort as possible.

    I'm not saying that's always the case but it's the way I see it.
  34. DanzBorin

    DanzBorin Initiate (0) Texas Apr 11, 2012

    I agree with you for the most part.

    I like mom and pop shops the best, but unfortunately in Houston there is only 1 of them that competes with the megamonster that is Specs.
  35. Dajtai007

    Dajtai007 Savant (390) Texas Jan 15, 2009

    The best bottle shops I know of are D&Q in Houston, The Whip-In in Austin, Bottleworks in Seattle, and Belmont Station in Portland.
  36. Houston dominated responses here. Halls in Colleyville is the best in DFW. Fern is a great guy. Never mind the dog :)
    fragilehearted likes this.
  37. DanzBorin

    DanzBorin Initiate (0) Texas Apr 11, 2012

    I'll have to check it out when I'm up that way. I've been to Lonestar and thought it was okay. Kind of like a D&Q light. Great service and decent selection.
  38. miikezombie

    miikezombie Savant (335) Texas Aug 13, 2010

    I miss seeing those posts.
  39. I still make them...just under another title....and thanks guys. Victory at sea hits monday...
    JJFoodie and frognot like this.
  40. aschwab

    aschwab Savant (475) Texas Mar 3, 2009

    Having been to the SF and Asheville ones, I have to agree. Those are two good small shops that have great beer.

Share This Page