Ledger's Liquors

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60 Ratings

Type: Store

1399 University Ave
Berkeley, California, 94702-1710
United States

(510) 540-9243 | map

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Added by GClarkage on 07-01-2005

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Ratings: 60 |  Reviews: 53
Photo of fartingdog
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%

Since I shop here regularly, I figure it's time to throw out a review.

The selection here is the best in the bay. I've been to every quality liquor store listed on beerfly, and this still is my #1 choice. When I worked in Berkeley, I would stop here at the end of every week after the deliveries, since there is almost always something new on the shelves. The selection has been growing over the years as well. Plenty of British, German, Belgian and domestic craft brews abound, as well as many from other parts (such as Lithuania and Sweden). They've gone out of the way to bring unique beers into the store, including road trip to places like San Diego to bring up beers that weren't distributed here.

The shelves can be a little haphazard, as certain stock dwindles down and new stuff comes in. You can't just walk down the aisle and see everything neatly organized, but that's OK tho. It becomes like a treasure hunt when you find that one bottle stuck behind some other stock, so plan on spending some time to peruse the shelves here. Prices can be a little higher for some beers, but seem to be on par with all the other privately owned (read: not BevMo) establishments around here.

Everybody that works there is very helpful, and the owner, Ed, is a great guy, very knowledgable of what he carries, and has lately been pushing alot of beer and food pairing. Seems nowadays my visits are social calls as much as perusing the shelves.

If you are visiting and can only make one stop, this is the place.

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Photo of rayjay
4.3/5  rDev -0.5%

Ed really stepped it up in the last year or so. I used to think this store was alright, but the selection has doubled since I first came here about 4 years ago. Not much of a looker from the outside, but the first few beers you find on the shelves will make you realize that this store is something special.

Prices are a bit on the high side, but I can totally justify that because Ed TOTALLY goes out of his way to get rare beers on the shelf...like going to San Diego and putting Port brews up for sale. Cheers to that! He may not have every beer, but there are always some gems, and usually stuff that nobody else has in the area, so the selection gets a hearty 4.5.

Service here is a rare treat, perhaps matched only by City Beer across the bridge. I love owners who know alot about beer and love to talk the talk. He'll also suggest some local places to grab a pint if you're from out of town.

Cons: not open on Sundays or Mondays, when it would be oh so convenient to grab some bottles on the way out of town after spending a weekend. Cheers!

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Photo of Talisker
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%

Rivaled only by SF's City Beer Store and possibly Healthy Spirits for best beer store in the Bay Area.

At first glance Ledger's is just a typical run-down liquor store in a not-so-great neighborhood. But start poking around the unkempt shelves and you'll find a mind-boggling selection. Belgians are the focus, and if that's your thing, there's no place better. Obscurity in general seems to be the other focus - certainly a place for the beer geek. Ed's nice when he's there, otherwise you're likely to be ignored by the staff (not necessarily a bad thing).

I personally would prefer a little more exploration of California beers. Certainly this a great place to stop for your Bear Republic, Stone, Marin, Moylan's, even occasionally Russian River - but much of that can be had at BevMo for significantly lower prices. Where's the Pizza Port, AleSmith, or anything interesting from Oregon or Colorado?

Nothing's organized, so you just look at every single bottle on every single shelf. Actually pretty fun. Exceptional glassware selection.

Prices are high relative to BevMo, City Beer Store, or other decent retailers. But it doesn't particularly matter - if you're doing a beer tour of the Bay Area, Ledger's should be on your list as the first stop outside of San Francisco.

Note that they're closed on Sundays and Mondays, so be careful planning a trip.

 1,362 characters

Photo of CraftBC
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%

The best beer store in the East Bay – only Monument in Concord comes close. It has a broad selection of craft beers (I counted over 257 in early February 2007) and it specializes in Belgian beers (with about 75). New finds included Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek, Thomas Hardy’s Ale, Baladin Nora, Oud Beersel Kriek, two Jolly Pumpkin beers, UK beers from HopBack and Cameron, and the Corsedonk and Kerkom Bink series from Belgium. About half the beers are stacked on the floor un-refrigerated – check the coolers first. Prices are about 7% higher than on the same beers at BevMo (148 beers in common – which means over 100 of their beers aren’t available at BevMo!). The owner is an enthusiastic beer lover and will be happy to make some suggestions. The only real downside is the routinely terrible traffic on University Ave.

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Photo of clickpush
4.55/5  rDev +5.3%

Finally, after months of reading about Ledger's, I trekked out there from SF to see what all the fuss was about. Immediately I understood. Belgians out the wazoo... that's all I have to say. Tons of 750ml bottles had hopped across the pond and landed in Ledger's and Ledger's only. Three full aisles of room temp beer and another 1.5 aisles of beer coolers. I loved the disorganization, the half empty cases, and all the mysterious labels - this is beer shopping at its best. When there's this good of a variety, I don't want to skim the shelves that are billboarded by brewing company - I want to be forced to look at every label and say "ooooh, I've read about this one" - one after another after another. Only reason that selection is not a 5 is because I felt that there were some obvious holes in the California selections (though some small distribution So. Cal beers had somehow made their way there), but I did not see a single Russian River or AleSmith selection, some of which are quite easy to locate in other stores in the Bay Area. But nonetheless, here's what I came away with (after negotiating a budget w/ myself (which I then promptly exceeded))...
-Fuller's Vintage Ale 2004, $7.95 / 500ml
-Unibroue Edition 2004, $9.25 / 750ml
-Urthel Quadrium, $9.50 / 750ml
-Belhaven Twisted Thistle, $3.25 / 500ml
-Firestone Walker Porter Reserve, $4.59 / 22oz
-Fantome's La Gourmande, $11.95 / 750ml
-Brouwerij St. Bernardus Grotten Brown, $9.25 / 750ml
-Brouwerij St. Bernardus Grotten Flemish Ale, $9.25 / 750ml

Okay, so the walk back to the BART station was a slow one, but well worth it. Service here did not appear until I was checking out, but they were friendly and extremely beer savvy, which surprised me as my experience has been that at a beer/liquor/wine store the clerks focus most heavily on wine, then liquor, then beer.

Anyway, this will not be the last time I am swiping the plastic through Ledger's machines.

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Photo of stephendr
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%

This liquor store has a good beer selection for the size it is . A lot of high end beers mostly Belgians , but a lot of California micro brew as well . Small walk in cooler , so not a lot of cold inventory most of the beer is on a dry shelf ( for me this is good and bad ). The best aspect of the store is that they had glassware and not just the standard stuff . Worth a peek if you are in the area but not worth a special trip . However , the beer guy was friendly and honest in regards to beers I had not tried previously .

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

I live in Georgia, but I've spent lots of time out in Berkeley on business over the last 19 years. I hadn't been to this place in years, and the last time was a desperate late night beer run before they closed. I always remembered it being slightly sketchy, with an average west coast beer selection and homeless dudes out front hassling you for one of your bottles out of the six. Needless to say, I hadn't really made it a destination. After reading about the place again on BA, I said to myself, "Really?, Shit, that place ? Its right down the street, I better go check it out."

This place rocks! It has only a medium selection size wise, but it makes up for that in knowledge of the beers and in quality. They have some real rare stuff here, and its stuff you won't find a lot of other places up in the East Bay (or the South Bay, where I also spend a lot of time). I was headed out of town to work at a program for the next month, and decided to stop here to stock my fridge. Check out what I bought: Port Saison; Stone Vertical Epic and Ruination; Hair of the Dog Rose and Doggie Claws; St. Bernardus Abt 12; Russian River Temptation, Salvation, and Damnation; Anderson Valley Brother David's Triple; and Drake's Anniversary Lager. A really well chosen selection at this store, and the owner is filled with news about rarities and forthcoming releases from west Coast breweries. Highly recommended- I'll definitely be a regular.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%

I dropped a Benjamin here on my way out of town and would have dropped two if I had had a bit more space in my luggage. Included in my purchase: multiple bottles of Stone RIS, Runination, IPA, RR Temptation, Damnation, and Salvation, PP SPF 45, etc… Service was phenomenal. After browsing for a minute or two, the owner walked over and asked me what I was looking for. I began rattling off my list of topnotch, west coast beers that I hoped to take back to Wisconsin. His reply was two fold, either… “yes I have it, here you go,” or “sorry, I don’t have that but I’ll order it or drive to some far off city to pick some up right away.” When I explained that I was from Wisconsin and would not be a repeat customer he was still insistent on getting the beers I had asked for because he figured they were good and others would like to have them. Then as I was checking out, I remembered that I had not picked up or seen any Pizza Port. No sooner than I had asked, then he was in and out of the back with his last bottle of SPF 45 and a good story about a recent road trip to Southern California to stock up on beer for his shop. Apparently, the Ledger’s guy regularly drives all over the west coast picking up beers that he can’t get delivered to him. Now that’s service! The owner also gave me plenty of print info on California beer festivals, new releases, other good beer stores, bars, etc… He was a real talker. I probably spent thirty minutes gabbing with him about beers/beer bars. In addition to the brews I picked up, Ledgers seemed to have a pretty good handle on obscure, small west coast breweries and tons of great Belgians. Prices were a bit high on some of the more obscure stuff and a bit low on some of the more common items including many of the Belgians. All-in-all a great shop and well worth a trip.

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Photo of devo
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

I found this place last fall when every other store in the region had yet to receive their Double Bastard deliveries for the year. When every BevMo around was sounding pessimistic about EVER receiving their shipment, I called this place and was told, yeah, we have it, come on down.

Not only did they have the Double Bastard but they had the proper glassware for it and many of the other specialty beers available.

In addition, I was treated to great finds from Alesmith and Russian River "(three different offerings available!) as well as old Stone VE and Imperial.

As my selection started to add up, one of the fellows there was very quick to grab an empty bomber case for me and the younger guy at the checkout was very friendly and, without prompting gave me a 5% discount.

The prices were typically about .50 more than I expect to pay at a Bevmo but with the discount, that was pretty much canceled out.

It's location is pretty inconvenient unless you live near by. It is not well served by any freeways and University is a pain in the butt to get up and down - but it's definitely worth the trek.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.45/5  rDev +3%

Let me start off by saying....what a find! I found this place from a recommendation from the local Stone Brewery rep. I was looking for a case of Stone IRS and he filled me in on Ledger's. I had always seen this store listed in the Celebrator beer monthly, but never really took a second glance for some reason. Located in Berkeley on University, it's about halfway to Cal. They have a parking lot that holds about 10 cars or so. Not the best of neighboorhoods, but not horrible. The owner (Ed) is a fantastic and very knowledgeble guy. Seemed like he really knows his stuff. He even takes special orders. The selection is pretty amazing. Lots of micros and other beers that you normally can't find around here. Plus lots of stuff that is long gone from just about everywhere. The first time I visited I was lucky to find so many great items. Unibroue 11, 2003 Anchor X-mas, leftover Bigfoot, Delirium Noel, three varieties of Fantome, many obscure brews from all over the world. I even found Pizza Port stuff that I didn't even know was bottled. Was lucky enough to get a couple Frank DIPA. Just a great beer store. If you are into the harder stuff they have about 100 different bottles of single and double malt whiskey. Lots of treasures to be found here.

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Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA
Place rating: 4.32 out of 5 with 60 ratings