The Wine Thief & Ale Jail

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50 Ratings

Type: Store

1787 Saint Clair Ave
Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55105-1941
United States

(651) 698-9463 | map

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Added by summitepale on 01-28-2006

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Ratings: 50 |  Reviews: 29
Photo of SlightlyGrey
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of TGanyone
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of heytomcat
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of DaftPatrick
5/5  rDev +12.9%

Photo of mattmarka1
4.75/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of Fluffheady
4.32/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

We are from out of town and visited several beer stores in Minneapolis. This place is where we gladly dropped most of our budget, and the place that any BA reader should visit. There is a great collection of growlers. They had the original half acre growler AND the new one. Any time I see that, I’m SOLD (living on the north side of Chicago). And the Russian River growler, etc, etc, etc. The man working the beer side of the store was extremely knowledgeable, and another one of the customers was a certified beer tasting judge. It is a great place. Stop here if from out of town. Shop here if you live here. These places need to survive.

 642 characters

Photo of Sludgeman
4/5  rDev -9.7%

Photo of JosephThompson
3.2/5  rDev -27.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3

The store itself is nice. Cool concept and it's played up and out on the walls all around you. Front entrance walks you into the wine area with a door frame a few steps to the right opening into the beer area.

Product is laid out nicely. I'm sure they have stock somewhere but oftentimes you'd only see one bottle of a label on the shelf. Whether to encourage you to buy or simply to save some space I'm not sure. There was nothing rare or special about the selection though what they have is what I'd consider the better quality of beers from the market.

Lots of local stuff including Braun Brothers, Steel Toe, etc. Remember a pretty decent sized Mikkeller selection if that's your thing. Of course, mix a six pack is available.

Service-wise, not much to say. They didn't bother me as it seemed they had other things going on. I visited on a weekday afternoon and saw one other customer so perhaps there was a massive event being planned that took up their time.

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Photo of augustgarage
4.6/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I had the good fortune of staying less than a mile and a half away from this establishment during my visit to Saint Paul and was able to make repeat visits during the week.

The store is divided cleanly into a small room full of wine and a small room full of beer. A short wall is devoted to coolers, while the longer walls are lined with floor to ceiling shelves where you can select bombers, singles, etc. Everything is clean and well organized and protected from excessive light exposure.

I purchased an embarrassing amount while I was there, and the quality of every beer was superlative. You won't find a fresher can of Surly in the city (e.g. TWO DAY old Furious!).

Selection was fairly wide ranging in style with plenty of excellent German and Belgian beers intermingling with the wide array of local (Summit, Surly, Flat Earth, Steel Toe, Brau Brothers, August Schell) and mid-west/southern (Tall Grass, Bell's, Founders, Great Lakes, Rush River, Left Hand, etc.) offerings.

The staff was incredibly kind, knowledgeable, and accommodating without ever being pushy. It doesn't take long to realize you are among fellow enthusiasts when you step through the door (I noted a few growlers in the back of the fridge as well, shared among the employees as well as empty bottles of rarities the staff had obtained in trade). There is a secondary emphasis on food/cheese pairing to further elevate your beer enjoying experience.

With the 10% discounts on mixed 6 packs (make them up yourself), you can walk out with a large burden of bottles and cans for not a lot of money.

The only fault I could find is that they sold no glassware, but if this leaves room for more ale and wine it's a very minor complaint.

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Photo of sacrelicio
4.74/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

This place has it all. Great selection, helpful and knowledgeable staff, and decent prices. They even open bottles for tasting every once in awhile. Not as large or fun as the Four Firkins but this is a nice runner up for best beer store in town. The other half of the store is a nice wine shop with staff that are also very helpful and friendly. My only complaint about the selection is that I wish that they got larger quantities of popular releases like Hopslam, KBS, Abyss, and I also wish that they did more tastings and other events.

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Photo of zeff80
4.08/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Located a short distance from Groveland Tap in a neighborhood that looks straight from the 1960s. It is a nice, clean well-lit store with an entire room dedicated to beer. Less than a quarter of the beer is kept in coolers. It is organized by style throughout the room with a large selection of single 12oz bottles. The service was helpful and pleasant in late afternoon on a holiday weekend. The quality of every beer I've tried so far has been good. The selection was good but not as great as I had pictured from the other great reviews. I hoped to see more local/Great Lakes area beers in bombers/750s. This is a really good store that is pretty close to downtown St. Paul. It is worth taking the short drive to visit.

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Photo of accordselux
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

A great place to shop. I've been shopping here since it was only the wine thief, and the beer selection was a single shelf.

The expansion is nice. An entire room devoted to wall-to-wall beer.

It's well lit, with nice wood shelving, nice paint and decorations, and a wall of coolers.

beer is top quality. Turnover is pretty good, and they always have the latest releases.

Service is great. I've talked to many of the employees, they are always in good spirits and there is always someone knowledgeable on staff.

Selection is very good. It is well organized by style, and stocks some high quality stuff.

My only complaint is that since it is a go-to store, things sell out quickly, and even though I shop frequently, I don't know if I'm readily recognized.

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Photo of Hopstout
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I discovered the Ale Jail only about 6 weeks ago and have already stopped in 6 times.
I have a few favorite local beer shops that I visit in the Twin Cities area, and this one has become my most favorite.
It's a fairly small place, but somehow they fit a HUGE selection of quality ales inside. They have MANY single bottles and they are displayed so that you can find what you are looking for easily.
I have found very rare and hard to find items here almost every time I have hopped in.
The staff is both incredibly knowledgeable and pleasant to deal with. Very down to Earth people. Not pushy at all.

Highly recommended.

 623 characters

Photo of ZMOS
3.66/5  rDev -17.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

A= A funky/artsy fartsy presentation that definately orchestrates the gimmick of name play. Lots of murals painted about.

Q= Nice little store with good mix and match 6 pack program. Not a lot of cold storage available.

S= Service was helpful without being pushy. One guy was working at the time of my visit and was restocking.

S= A lot of cool beers but space limits their overall selection. I did find some more eclectic things here though which was a good surprise.

F= N/A I did notice that they do serve samples of cheese cake and other foods during tastings.

V= Fairly reasonable for the area.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.64/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I built the Ale Jail into my itinerary on a recent drive from Madison to Seattle. Of all the heavy hitter beer stores in MSP, this added the least amount of time to the trip. Other location notes - gas station right on the corner, Thomas Liquors a few blocks away and a Whole Foods in the immediate vicinity.

The focus of the stop was to grab a light stock of Surly cans and keep travelling. I was a little delayed by a lethal lightning/hail storm and had to wait outside the store for 15 minutes before it was safe to leave the car.

Surly bender, coffee bender, bitter brewer and hell were available. They had drained their furious stash but were kind enough to proactively call down to Thomas Liquors and gave me detailed directions on how to get there - very cool.

The focus of the main room is wine while the back room houses all the beer. There are a lot of bombers/750's and 4/6 packs in coolers and a large dry storage area housing singles, imports, etc.

Surly, Brau Brothers, Flat Earth, Rush River, Daves Brew Farm and lots of other midwest staples highlight the stash. I saw the Deschutes/Boulevard collaboration along with all the other Boulevard highlights as well.

A farmhouse 750ml (Auroch's Horn) was suggested by the shopkeep and thoroughly enjoyed.

Cool stop - very satisfied. Oh and whatever music they were dialed into was strong - heard an LCD Soundsystem song while browsing.

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Photo of Tamarack22
4.36/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Let me get straight to the point; this is by far the best store I have ever been to for buying single bottles of beer. They have a great selection, but the best part is the price. Every bottle is priced in relation to it's case price. Every other store I've been to seems to round up to the nearest dollar; $2, $3, or $4 per bottle. At Ale Jail you pay the same price per bottle whether it's a 12-pack, 6-pack, or single bottle. Awesome!

Not a single "BMC" brand is to be found. Only the finest craft breweries on their shelves. Lots of Belgian beers and hard to find bombers and 750's. Cooler space is limited, but that doesn't bother me.

Knowledgable staff that is always willing to answer questions with straight answers. Great atmosphere. This is a beer store for beer advocates by beer advocates.

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Photo of cpolking
4.64/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

This is a large, roomy, area and bright with natural light, boutique looking store. However, the prices are reasonable.

There is an extremely large selection and basically everything is available as a single. There is a great and varied selection of American craft beers, both those local to the Twin Cities area and nationally. There is also a decent international selection.

The staff when I visited was friendly and helpful but not pushy or hovering.

This is in a nice area of St. Paul and is a must stop if you are in the Twin Cities. It is my new favorite beer store.

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Photo of Expedition
4.44/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

I love this little joint in the East Side. A great destination beer store with a great selection, and the place is organized really well. It is not pretentious in any way. The cooler space is adequate as well. I see some folks complain about it where other beer stores in St. Louis Park have a single 2 door. Cooler space is over-rated.

I had a great time looking around here and the staff was great as well. I will always make a stop here when in the St. Paul area. Thanks Paul and crew! You made my day!

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Photo of gatornation
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

was in st paul today and went down snelling to st claire,,and parked right in front,,you enter on the left front door,,wine is immediately in front of you the beer is on the right thru another entry,,place is very cool inside.. its an old building with all wood floors inside.. beer chilled 4/6 packs are in a cooler on the back wall with a limited chilled selection..big single selection by variety is all around the floor space by style in bomber/750ml and singles imported and much to choose from ..the help is knowledgeable,and great to talk with about brews and knowledge of product..really like this place

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.8/5  rDev +8.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

I am very impressed with the beer selection at The Wine Thief and Ale Jail. Their singles selection is among the best in the Twin Cities, as is their Belgian selection, and their selection of unique/hard to find beers. The only thing I can say negatively about their selection is that their cooler space is somewhat limited. The service is really good, and even the wine guys seem to be very beer savvy. The atmosphere is inviting with a lot of space to move around in. I will definitely be going back here when looking for something odd.

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Photo of
3.45/5  rDev -22.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3

Well I had heard so many great things about the place and I finally had to make the trip in to check it out. I do agree with some of the things that have already been mentioned, but when I was in the store they did have a couple of guys in. I did wait around to talk to the beer guy but was unable to on a couple occasions. I had tried to inquire about items and was kind of ignored, seemed like he was too busy talking to his regulars/ buddies. The selection is nice but it's a lot of things that I can find at a lot of other stores. Cool vibe to the store, might stop back sometime in the future I would really have enjoyed a chance to talk to a cicerone. :( As for price a wee bit on the high side on some items.

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Photo of doucmehu
4.78/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

The Ale Jail is one of my favorite beer stores in all the land. I have only been coming here for a couple months, but they do not disappoint.

* Tastings - Every Tuesday they do a really nice tasting with at least 4 bottles. Examples are: Lips of Faith series, Lagunitas, Great Lakes, Great Divide, Brau Brothers....

* Social Media - Great job on posting good info, reviews, reminders, upcoming events, humor, etc.

* Selection - over 1000 beer sku's, all categorized and sortable online with current stock status!!

* Approachable - amazing staff, they can geek it up or be very down to earth for a newbie.

* The Boss - the manager of the beer store is a really nice guy, easy to talk to, extremely knowledgeable and unpretentious.

* Singles selection - simply excellent, including lots of imports.

My only two gripes with this store could be the prices and refrigeration, but honestly paying an extra buck or two for this selection and dealing with room temp on a lot of beers is acceptable for me.

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Photo of zeledonia
4.8/5  rDev +8.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Seems like every time I go there, it's empty. And I can't fathom why. In fact, I'm tempted not to review it so I can keep it to myself and the others who already know about it.

You have to walk through the wine side to get to the "Ale Jail." Once there, it's roomy and quiet. Great selection, a wall of single 12 oz. bottles, a wall of bigger bottles, a wall of coolers, and tables in the middle with 4- and 6-packs.

The mixed 6-packs are the best value I've found; the per-bottle prices are the same as if you bought a pack of each. Awesome selection, mostly organized by style. They also seem to get less traffic than other spots with similar selection, so they have the limiteds and other sought-after stuff for quite a bit longer (e.g. they had plenty of Founders Imperial Stout long after it was gone from my local more-popular shop).

Staff is super helpful, and usually very available. Seriously, why is there never anyone else there?

Great place, well worth a visit for the value and selection. And I hear the weekly tastings are great, though I haven't yet made it to one.

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Photo of corcoranjc
5/5  rDev +12.9%

This is a wonderful place, and I regularly drive out of my way to visit this store. Prior to the Ale Jail side opening (there is both a beer store - Ale Jail, and a wine shop - The Wine Thief on the premises), my wife and I would regularly go here for wine. Now that the Ale Jail has opened it's an incredible one stop shop. Really the only reason I go anywhere else at this point is if I am pressed for time and need to just stop at a local shop in South Mpls where we live or if I'm short of cash and am looking for some sale items.

The shop is small and they do not usually have a lot of items on sale, but it is the best place to find some rarer beers and to try a wide variety of selections (their singles wall is exceptional). Adam who runs the beer side is very knowledgeable and approachable. Also, stop by on Tuesdays for their tastings....really great!

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Photo of plfahey
5/5  rDev +12.9%

Ale Jail has quickly become the best place to buy beer in St. Paul. They boast an incredible selection of single bottles (on their build a 6-pack wall) at quite cheap prices-this is where you'll find the best deals in the store. They also regularly get in special offerings that are difficult (if not impossible) to find elsewhere in the twin cities.

Adam, who is in charge of the beer side of the wine thief/ale jail enterprise was recently certified as a cicerone, and it shows in his knowledge and familiarity with the beer that they offer. He's easy to talk to and enthusiastic about what he does-always ready and excited to help you find a beer to suit whatever you may be looking for.

I'm so excited to finally have an excellent beer store on this side of the river-tho even if you're a Minneapolis resident this one is definitely worth checking out.

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The Wine Thief & Ale Jail in Saint Paul, MN
Place rating: 4.43 out of 5 with 50 ratings