Charles Street Liquors

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Charles Street LiquorsCharles Street Liquors
64 Ratings
Charles Street LiquorsCharles Street Liquors

Type: Store

143 Charles St
Boston, Massachusetts, 02114-3252
United States

(617) 523-5051 | map

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Ratings: 64 |  Reviews: 50
Photo of kbanks13
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Just decided to stop in and browse what they had last night, especially after hearing so much about them. Needless to say, I was very impressed. Let's get this out of the way now: Is it Julio's? No. Do they still have a reasonably large selection of great beers? Definitely, especially considering the selection at most other surrounding stores. Mostly 22's, but a fair amount of singles too, including harder to find ones (I haven't really been looking for it, but I haven't noticed Traquair anywhere else besides Julio's and here). A good selection of Belgians and American craft alike. I decided to buy just one bottle; since I still have a good stash at the moment, but I wanted to throw a little support to a store I was starting to like so much. The staff was very friendly when I went to check out and the guy working was quite talkative. Nobody came to talk to me when I was browsing the isles though, which I actually prefer (I don't like to feel rushed when I'm looking for something, but not any specific item). Prices were a bit high on some items, but overall pretty fair. I liked their selection and staff a little more than the stores a little closer to me, and it is way closer than Marty's or Publick House for me (let alone Julio's), so I figure I'll be trekking here quite often. Great place to stop in at for some tougher to find bottles.

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Photo of perrymarcus
4.16/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

one of my regular stops. that said, IMO it's a bit - a bit - overrated from a beer standpoint. don't get me wrong, the selection is great, with many local and regional brews to accompany offerings from the west coast and europe, and pretty well organized. part of an aisle is devoted soley to belgians, which is up my alley, and most major breweries i look for like DFH, founders, ST, lagunitas, avery, and goose island are well represented. and while there are a few obscure beers, a lot of this stuff can be found elsewhere in the city and at cheaper prices. (though it's not outrageous, either.) to be fair, it's a relatively small store and also purveyor of wine and spirits, so they do put limited space to good use. the staff is friendly, though recently the "beer guy" - as he was called by another employee - while amiable and well-intentioned, had trouble identifying a quad. all will be forgiven if the can deliver goose island's vanilla boubon stout upon release! ;)

the location is an asset, steps from the charles/MGH red line stop, or a short walk up charles from the common/public garden. all in all, a place you have to check out, esp if you're in the area.

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Photo of tigg924
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%

I went to Charles Street Liquors yesterday for the first time in about a year and have to say I was a bit disappointed. This used to be the place where you could find lots of really hard to find beers that you could not find anywhere else. While the selection still has some gems, there are a lot more common beers. There are about four shelf cases with bombers and foreign beers. Their Belgian selection is a bright spot. The appearance as others have said leaves a bit to be desired. The aisle in back of the beer aisle was covered in old cardboard boxes. The service was courteous and knowledgeable, so no complaints there. What I got was a bit pricey for what I expected to pay for it. If I was in Boston--especially Boston proper, I would still come to this store every now and then. The selection still beats most in the area, and it clearly caters to craft. However, it just is not worth the hour trip as it once was or as some other stores still are.

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Photo of rhinos00
3.65/5  rDev -10.3%

This place is located in a beautiful area of Boston. However, that did not take away from the fact that I was pretty disappointed in this store...I think this may have a lot to do with how spoiled I have been with stopping at some of the best beer stores in various other states (i.e. Indiana, Ohio, New York, Julio's in MA).

Anyways, CSL had a terrible appearance. Everything on the shelves was cluttered and coated with lots of dust. There were a few harder to find beers, such as Ten Fidy, Deus, Ten, and others which offered somewhat of a bright spot. The selection was rather small as well. Basically a refrigerated section and another section with bottles that may be would comprise a small aisle at a local liquor store. I gave the service a good mark solely because it didn't seem like there were that many employees and the ones that were there probably couldn't leave the cash registers.

Overall, if I lived in this area, it might be a place I would stop in to do some beer shopping. However, as a person that does not frequent this area of the U.S. often, I would not waste my time here with likes of Julio's not too far away.

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Photo of jushoppy2beer
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

This is a favorite stop of mine when I'm in Boston. Right at the bottom of Beacon Hill, this great store is a convenient stop as you walk down Charles between the MGH T-stop and the Boston Public Garden. Great selection of special beers plus a very nice selection of wines to go with it. The prices are very reasonable, and there are always specials. The shelves and displays are well organized and easy to navigate, and the store itself is pleasant. The staff is very friendly and helpful. Overall, a great place to shop for drinks to take home in a bottle.

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Photo of gcarl
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%

My neighborhood beer store. I have been a loyal customer for over a year. Good selection of American craft beers(Avery, Southern Tier, Lagunitas, Port, Victory) and an excellent selection of imports.

As others have said there are some olllddd bottles of beer here, which is not always a bad thing, but beware of what you are buying; also, CSL seems to be a bit slow at getting seasonals and special releases which can be irritating when you want a beer but don't want to travel to Allston or Newton for Marty's

The staff of CSL deserves tons of praise as they are the nicest group of ladies and gentlemen. Always willing to assist in any way possible and accept special requests with grace.

A great store, great location, and always willing to accomodate.


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Photo of IBUnit63
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%

I enjoy going to this place because it's reachable via T during the week, is on the way home from work, and they get new arrivals in relatively quickly. Nice selection of bombers and imports - very good Belgian and German breadth. Service is good - maybe not quite up to the level when Scot the wine guy was there but still solid. Ample offerings cold also. There are some things that go for reasonable prices (Southern Tier comes to mind here) but quite a few may be a bit higher (buck or so) than in the 'burbs. Solid place to go when in town during the week.

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Photo of Fugazme
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%

Relying on a GPS unit to get me around, I didn't bother printing out or jotting down any addresses before my recent trip to Boston. The first place to come up when searching for a good place to buy some beer in Boston was Charles Street Liquors... literally two blocks away from where we were staying in Beacon Hill. Nice!
I found it to be the best selection of the places I visited and on par (if not better) than some of the places I've visited.

Charles Street is not huge and they obviously focus on wine quite a bit (which is nice, as well). The beer selection was impressive and for the most part reasonably priced. I expected it to be higher than it was for the neighborhood/east coast. Lost Abbey, Stone, Avery, DFH... all beers that can't be had in Omaha. And space was limited to carry home so I needed to be pretty selective. Their stock made it hard to do that! I wanted a bit of everything.

The service was excellent. There were quite a few people looking for beers at the time I was there and only one guy helping all of us and never ignoring any. He knew his beers and was honest. I'd rather get an "I've never tried it" or a "let me look it up" than someone faking their way through it.

A definite must stop if you're in the neighborhood.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.15/5  rDev +2%

Charles Street Liquors was my first stop to find local beers in Boston. As it's on Charles Street not too far from the north station it's easy to get to if you're traveling. Of course, I was driving, and there's absolutely no parking near there! I made due.

I was impressed with the number of 6-packs they had, but I normally buy single bottles. They would not break up a six pack for me (...I found it on tap later that day!). The single bottle collection was pretty good too, but there wasn't a whole lot that I couldn't find in other parts of the east coast. Lots of good Belgians though. Decent Germans. I was looking for local though.

The store is well maintained, and very comfortable and easy to browse. The staff (I think I dealt with an owner, perhaps just a manager) know their products and what's going on in the market, and they're more than willing to assist customers who need help (unlike me)! ... ... (An aside... I found it interesting that the man I spoke with gave a 2-sided compliment/put-down to a local brewer as #1 - he had no idea who I was, and #2 - that should be some of their bread and butter, but that's not really the market they're interested in).

Had I known, however, what limited range of local beers I would encounter on my next 5 stops, I probably would have bought more - but even then, I did have that clock ticking on my illegally parked car!

Certainly worth a visit for beer, and don't forget that they do have a very good, expansive wine selection if you're headed out to a BYOB restaurant (Boston has many!). I certainly wouldn't pass it by.

Oh, and as to the dusty bottles mentioned earlier, yes, I saw them too and it kept me away from the Belgians. ... ... ... Why not just dust them off?

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Photo of Lothore
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%

I went into this shop at the end of my trip expecting nothing and it ended up being the biggest selection of beer (at a store) that I had seen anywhere in Boston. Everything was sorted nicely and my only beef was that there seemed to be a thick layer of dust on a lot of their brews which really brought up the question of freshness in my mind. Despite that one detail, this was an amazing shop with quite reasonable price that carried everything from Alesmith to Weyerbacher to Achel and everything in between. If you are in Boston and looking for a stop to pick up some brews on the go you HAVE to check this place out.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.15/5  rDev +2%

I had some time to kill on Christmas Eve before my plane departed, so I strolled along Charles Street in search of Charles Street Liquor. I felt I needed to take home another sample of beer home as a last-minute gift, and that I did (a bottle of Founders Red Rye). The selection is more focused on imports than domestic craft beers, but you can still come away with a 3 liter bottle of Double Bastard. The imported selection is diverse and evenly represented; I noticed a large number of German and English beers I've never heard of before. I was asked if I needed help a few times when I was debating what I wanted to take home with me. Multiple checkout registers help move the queue line fast, ending my BeerFly tour of Boston a little faster than I was expecting. Great place to stop at for beer if you're around the west part of the peninsula.

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Photo of papat444
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%

Well, i was a bit leary of going here as i got mixed reviews from people who had gone. First off, their specialties are Belgians & other imports. If you love Belgians, they have pretty much any you could want. Also, some uncommon ones, like Baltika or La Choulette. Service was friendly & excellent. Now, a couple of things.
1) some bottles are dusty (not all), & i saw at least one or two kinds of beer that were past the due date. So, inspect your beer before buying as i did.
2) While there's a good selection of US micros in cases, not much unfortunately in ways of singles as they don't allow broken cases.

All in all though, i would come again, but would not do my main beer shopping here though.

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Photo of albern
4/5  rDev -1.7%

If you're in the neighborhood, this is about the best around the common/public garden area. Not the best in the metro area, but a very good selection on the shelf. The Belgians are there for the taking and there are plenty of others on the shelves. The refrigerated section isn't huge. Elm Street in Somerville is much better. Marty's in Allston is also better, but that one isn't laid out that well for my liking. You could do a heck of a lot worse that is for sure. The parking, yikes, I wouldn't even try. I only approach this one on foot.

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Photo of brentk56
2.4/5  rDev -41%

Is this what Boston has to offer?

Nice selection, but many of the bottles are dusty and well past their prime.

If one of our shops in North Carolina tried to pawn this off on their customers there would be hell to pay.

I saw a beer with a "Best by" date in 2005 and had another New England stout that had soured. I haven't tried the rest of what I had purchased but I hope it is better, but fear the worst.

On a subsequent visit in 2008 I asked whether the beer I was purchasing was fresh. I told them that I saw a beer with a brewed on date in 2001 and the clerk had the audacity to say, "Oh well, someone will buy it."

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Photo of Kudashov
3.3/5  rDev -18.9%

I did not come here to pick anyone's brain on beer when I was here . I just came in to pick up some of my favs like DFH 90 and some La Fin Du Monde . They have a decent selection and I was not even in there 5 min and I was asked if I needed help . Wish the beer selection was as big as the wine selection . The bottles are a little dusty . Parking around here can be a pain in the arse but you can take T and get off at Charles . It is right there , maybe a 100 yards . Not bad but it will not take the place of Marty's or Curtis for me .

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Photo of Imstillthegman
4.15/5  rDev +2%

I made this one of my many stops while in Boston for the EBF. Good selection including many Belgians/imports, Stone, Founders, Oskar Blues, AleSmith, and the locals. I am still kicking myself for forgetting to grab a six-pack of Gordon....grrr. There is a parking garage pretty much right across the street from the store. There was some dust on some of the bottles I purchased but I am assuming it was just blowing in from nearby construction. Atleast, I don't think AleSmith would sit around long enough to get dusty. Mass. gets a lot of great beers and I wish I could of found a store that was large enough to have more of the offerings from all of those brewers. This was a good store with a good selection a little bigger than some of the other downtown Boston stores.

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Photo of Naerhu
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%

This place was the best place for craft beer I found while in Boston.

The staff bent over backwards to answer my questions. They were available and amicable. If anything they were too eager to please, kinda felt weird. But things are good when thats ones biggest complaint.

The beer is located in the back of the store, with three or four doors of cooler space, lots of international beer being store at room temperature as well. There is a strong presence of German, British and Belgian beers. To be honest, I was kind of concerned about the room tempurature storage of these beers, but everything I bought from them was in perfect condition.

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Photo of Gavage
3.7/5  rDev -9.1%

Stopped in as we passed it heading to the Red Line Charles stop. Nice selection of some beers I can not get in NJ like McNeill's, Newport Storm, and Middle Ages. Easy to view the selection of warm bottles on the left side of the store. Not a large selection by any means, but one that left me staring at a number of beers I haven't tried yet.

I picked up a few bombers and they were a bit pricey in my opinion. But then again this is city and I'm sure the store rent ain't cheap in this area.

The service was friendly, but not overly inquisitive of my staring at the selection of warm bottles for a few minutes.

Convenient if riding the Red Line. Worth a stop if you are not a Bostonian.

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Photo of jvdineen
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%

When I'm on my way to the Blue Line I'll make the detour and go to Juliana aka Charles St. Liquors. In the back of the store the entire left side is put aside for beer. 750 ml and bomber bottles dominate. They hold many beers from the Allagash, Unibroue, Weihenstephaner, Smuttynose and Cisco lines (among others). They have a "make your own six pack" of macros and some imports. Lots of German and Belgians to choose from. Prices are only slightly high. This is mainly due to their Beacon Hill locale. Very reccomended, very good.

They have a book that you can ask for certain beers. I've never tried it but it's out and free for anyone to use.

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Photo of bignick
4/5  rDev -1.7%

This is definitely one of the better liquor stores in the Boston area. There is a very nice selection, especially of imports, and I like how the beer is divided by country. I do not like the lack American six packs. The options of cold sixpacks aren't as well-picked, IMOH, as at Bauer or Wine Gallery. The quality seems pretty high, on the whole, although there is the occasional old bottle to be found. I have never been offerred help while shopping, but when I have had a question the sale-people are helpful enough. This is a very good neighborhood store, and worth a visit if nearby.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
3.55/5  rDev -12.8%

Stopped by a couple of times while in the neighborhood but most recently I swung by today while waiting killing some time in the neighborhood. The quality of the beers were solid. Everything I checked out was either in-date or reasonably so. However, there were a bunch of dusty bottles on the bottom shelf outside the cooler. Also, there were a few seasonls that were a bit out of season, but not too many.

Very nice selection. Not the most expansive in the Boston area, but definitely a good selection. Had a little bit of everything. Nothing too rare but all very sell-able beers with a few more eccentric Belgians and even American beers.

Service has always been the same everytime I have been in the store. I'll describe the most recent. I was in there for 15 minutes just poking around. There was a solid 5 minutes I was in the store by myself with only the sales clerk. However, he never approached me to see if I needed anything, I simply got a "Hey, what's up?" when I went to check out. That is barely average service and i give them the benefit of the doubt but this is not the first time I recieved such service.

I will definitely go back for the selection but not if I am looking for any assistance.

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Photo of petemoss14
4.15/5  rDev +2%

This is where I go for those hard-to-find beers. Their selection consists mostly of individual bottles with a decent selection of sixers/fours in the cooler. This is one of the few places I have been able to find St. Bernardus Abt 12, but they have a nice selection of beers from all around the world, organized by geographic region.

Prices are decent, though there are a lot of things there that I know I can get for less someplace else. I also wonder about some of the dust in the beer area (it kind of has a cellar feel, even though you actually go up a step to reach it), but I haven't yet had a problem with freshness.

Service is fairly good -- I will usually be asked if I can be helped with anything, but this might be a result of how long I often take to browse. Asked once if they ever carry Abbaye des Rocs, and it took the guy a minute to figure out what I was talking about before he gave me a non-definitive answer.

A lot of people complain about the parking here. And while it can be difficult depending on the time of day, if you have an idea of what you are looking for, then you can just use the 15 minute parking in front of the CVS right around the corner. It is also right near the Charles St. T stop.

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Photo of twelvsies
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Heard mixed reviews about this place, and while lost (I'm relatively new to the area) I found myself on Charles St and out of the corner of my eye I spotted the sign. So I parked (which wasn't really hard as lots of reviews say) and went in. They do have a pretty amazing selection. Lots of variety: Belgians, Germans, English, American, all the biggies are covered. They do a little beyond your above average beer store selection though. There are a lot of off the wall Belgians like stuff from De Proef that I don't see everywhere and am starting to like more and more. Also, a lot of Fantome and Cantillon, including seasonals and rarer stuff. Great selection of six packs as well from all over the country. I wanted to wait til after I'd drank some of the beers I bought here to review the place. I've heard a few complaints about old beers on the shelves, etc, but everything I got there was fresh.Service really isn't any help, but that to me isn't so important. Yeah, it's really nice when people go out of their way to come chat about beer, like at Bauer in Boston, and only a couple other places I've been (Premier in Buffalo), but I don't really need much help in a beer store anyway. The staff were all taking pictures of themselves drinking wine for Improper Bostonian or something, which was kind of funny. This place is a bit pricey. For example, $12+ for Fantome strikes me as a bit expensive. I usually find them for 8.99 or 9.99 most places. But, I guess you get what you pay for in that you can find almost anything you want at this place and now I feel confident that it's going to be fresh and healthy beer. Still, it's expensive. I like how the beer is in the back, away from the sunlight. All beer stores should do this. Definately a spot to check out if you're visiting the area, or if you live here. If you're still scared by the challenge of finding a parking spot, which is silly, it's super close to the Charles/MGH stop on the red line. Check it out.

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Photo of kmo1030
4/5  rDev -1.7%

been here a few times now and i am finally sitting down to tell you what i think. this place has a very respectable selction of beer, the best within boston proper and only rivaled by downtown w&s in the area. lots of english imports good belgain selection and a wide selection of US beers available in MA. service is ok. no one spoke to me while i was browsing, but the guy working the register did strike up some convo about the NEBF when he saw what i was buying. qualitywise i passed up a couple selections because of the layer of dust on them. not thick, but made me think twice especially with the european imports. overall worth a try if your visiting boston, and a must try if you live in the area.

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Photo of LPorter33
3.4/5  rDev -16.5%

Recommended by BeerPanther (thanks). As many have mentioned the selection here is astonishing. It's only rival in terms of quantity in the Boston area is Downtown Liquors in Somerville. While some of the imported bottles do have a thin layer of dust, my personal experience with the quality is good. I picked up a bottle of Anderson Valley Belk's ESB, a Thomas Hooker Octoberfast, and a few other pumpkin ales. Being in season, you'd expect the Fall beers to be fresh which they were. The dust covered bottles did look dubious though and I'd hesitate before purchasing them.

What I found extremely disappointing was the service. There were 2 employees stationed back near the beer coolers and not once did either of them ask me if I needed help. What I found even more disappointing though was that another customer was looking for a rare import and inquired about it to one of the employees. The employee responded that she "thought they had it" but didn' t know where it was. Rather then spending the time to help the customer, or try to find someone with more knowledge of the beer selection, she dismissed the customer and basically implied the customer was on her own. That's atrocious service.

Overall = The exceptional selection makes this place worth checking out. Just go in with what you already want in mind and don't expect to get any help or advice from the people inside.

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Charles Street Liquors in Boston, MA
Place rating: 4.07 out of 5 with 64 ratings