The Wine Specialist


1133 20th St NW
Washington, District of Columbia, 20036-3408
United States

(202) 833-0707 | map

View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 16 | Ratings: 17 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Smakawhat
3.92/5  rDev -7.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Kind of surprised I never knew about this place, but a couple of repeat visits have got me curious to come back for more.

The selection here isn't too different from what else is in the area, but it also doesn't seem to be shopped as much, so some of the product is older and the flipside is you can occasionally find something interesting. Found Riel beers here and also an old 30yr Ola Dubh which was a great find.

Service is perfectly fine and they asked if I was looking for anything special. I did say I was, and asked about it and they mentioned that their beer product stock only changes over maybe once a month. Prices are a little on the high side, but not too bad, but there are also some high shelf items in here. On top of that the place has a great spirit selection, and a very impressive assortment of single malt scotches.

Worth stopping and if anything taking a look.

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Smakawhat from Maryland, Nov 01, 2013
Photo of BeerSox
4/5  rDev -5.9%

The store is just on the edge of a rather nice area (at least it looks nice). The best way to get to this place from the metro is to get off at Foggy Bottom and walk north up New Hampshire to M Street. It's right next to the Chinese restaurant, and not too far from Pizzeria Paradiso (Dupont Circle). Also, if you keep walking west on M Street, you will reach the Georgetown Pizzeria Paradiso.

The beers are at the left side of the store, with some refrigerated coolers and a few shelves off the good stuff. There are also six packs stacked around the middle of the store. I didn't explore the entire place, but looked like that was the extent of the beer selection. I was able to grab a couple bottles of some rare stuff (Ola Dubh 16 and Bourbon County Stout). The selection isn't the greatest, as Chevy Chase up in Chevy Chase seems to have every beer that's delivered to the Potomac Region.

Service seemed good enough for those looking for wine, I didn't ask for help, as I rarely do. Everyone seemed friendly though. The prices seemed to be about what they should be.

Not a bad place to stop if you pass by it. If you're like me, this is probably a good place to go that has a good selection of beers that aren't available in Northern Virginia. Recommended.

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BeerSox from Virginia, Nov 16, 2009
Photo of glid02
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%

Stopped by here to pick up some beers that are unavailable in my neck of the woods.

Quality is good. The beer is at the back of the store (for the most part) and everything seemed well-maintained.

Service was very good. The guy was happy to inform me that they had Hopslam in the back, and I was happy to accept a sixer of it. They were less happy to tell me that they could no longer carry bombers or sell singles. Anyways, they were knowledgeable about what they had and what they were getting and could not get.

Selection was good. As I stated previously they didn't have any bombers, though a place up on P St., perhaps 1/2 mile away had them. The six-packs I saw were of Magic Hat, Brooklyn, Troegs, Bells, and Peak, among others. Plenty of Nugget Nectar was available in addition to the Hopslam, which was nice to see.

Beer was relatively cheap up here, but certainly not inexpensive.

Overall this place didn't disappoint, and hopefully they'll be able to carry bombers again soon. Worth checking out if you're in the area.

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glid02 from Georgia, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of thekanna
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%

Stopped by this place on my way walking from Georgetown to Dupont Circle.

This is a very upscale, nicely-maintained shop in NW. Their profusion of wines and propensity for wine tastings let you know that this is, of course, a specialist for wine. Management is young and generally more knowledgeable about other spirits than beer. However, for what beers they do have, they're overall great stuff at non-swift-kick-to-the-balls prices. From what I remember, they had a lot of Belgians (Koningshoeven, Chimay, Maredsous etc.), Germans (Weihenstephaner, Bayerischer Bahnhof etc.), and Domestic brews (DFH, Magic Hat, Rogue etc.). But what really intrigued me is some of the rare gems that you could find. I managed to walk away with a 1999 bottle of JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale for only $8; I also got a bottle of Scaldis Noel here, which you can hardly find anywhere else. Furthermore, you can get a pretty good deal on the high ABV beers that they usually charge you your first born for at other places (DFH 120 min IPA, DFH World Wide Stout etc.) All in all, a great buy.

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thekanna from Maryland, Feb 01, 2009
Photo of Applesauce1
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%

I've been here a few times to pick up some beer while visiting my buddy that lives near Washington Circle. The stuff you buy here seems to be of top quality. People here are nice and the prices aren't bad for this part of town. Selection is decent sized. A fair amount of macros along with some craft brews. Some craft breweries I've seen here are Brooklyn, Bell's, Sam Adams, Troegs, Southern Tier, Stone, Harpon, etc. They have a good selection of liquor and occasionally wine tastings here also.

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Applesauce1 from Virginia, Nov 28, 2008
Photo of midaszero
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%

Swung by The Wine Specialist as it was one of the only places I could find in town to pick up wine shippers.

They have a pretty solid selection of beer in the back. Some hard to find stuff and just generally good things. There are plenty of employees around the store that mostly leave you alone but if you ask a question they are very helpful.

If you are from out of town and want your purchase shipped to you they will pack it up and send it to you as well. The prices were pretty reasonable and is on my list of places to check again next time I am in town.

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midaszero from Washington, Oct 09, 2008
Photo of soupyman10
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%

My go-to place in DC. Tim, the beer guy, is friendly and incredibly knowledgable about everything they sell. Prices are reasonable, and a fair bit less than you'll find for a comparable selection, especially in DC. Consistently have a nice stock of singles and sixers of all your locals, Troegs, Dogfish Head, Victory, Clipper City, Weyerbacher, as well as a nice selection of foreign beers (including some really random ones like fruit beers from Normandy, etc.). Not the biggest selection I've ever seen (although I think it is the biggest one I've seen in DC), but the people are amazing and the price is fine. Also, Thursday's the do beer tastings, which is a solid find.

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soupyman10 from District of Columbia, Sep 13, 2008
Photo of Gavage
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Stopped in during a recent business trip to bring a beer or two back to the hotel room for a nightcap. Easy to find near any of the business district hotels. Plenty of wine here, but there is plenty of beer too.

The store is a bit hectic looking with cases of beer stacked all over the place. But there is some good selection here with plenty of mid-Atlantic beers like Heavy Seas, Brewer's Art, and DFH.

Huge belgian selection, both in refridgerators and warm. The cold beer selection was a bit lacking mainly due to space, but again they were well stocked with a nice variety.

Service was very friendly and super knowledgable. More stores need to have guys working that have a passion for beer.

This is a place I will be stopping in during my regular business trips to DC.

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Gavage from New Jersey, Jun 06, 2008
Photo of HopHeed2113
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%

Not far off of 66, the Wine Specialist is actually closer and easier for me to get to than Norm's in Vienna. It's a shame it took me so long to check out this gem. The beer section is cramped since the bulk of their sales comes from wine/hard alcohol, but what they have is quality. Right away I was drawn to the tasties that I can't find just a few miles away in VA. Off the top of my head they had Great Divide, Chocolate Indulgence, ST Oat, Choklat and Backburner, the Old Engine Oil/Ola Dubh lineup, a couple Nogne O and Mikkellers to boot (all of which I have never seen in a VA beer store).

The selection is great, but what I was most impressed with is the service. The entire selection is available to view online, and the site gets updated regularly. Also, within a few minutes of looking at their goods Tim, the beer buyer/manager, introduced himself and we started talking beer. He is hands down the most knowledgeable beer guy that I have ever come across.

Prices are very reasonable as well.

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HopHeed2113 from Virginia, May 05, 2008
Photo of dreadnatty08
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Visited here after walking back from Georgetown. Location is only a few blocks from Dupont Circle, maybe closer to Farragut North. Beer section is cramped but full of goodies. I was soon asked if I needed help from a very knowledgeable beer geek, the first time I've been asked for assistance since being in DC, no other store has offered this. They have a wide selection of Belgians, great selection of DFH (WWS, 120min, Burton Baton, Golden Era, OSB, etc). Their selection is available online, a huge plus as it's a bit out of the way for me, and I'd like to check the stock before I stop by. They were telling me about a tasting coming up this week, a great plus. Overall, this stores' selection and price point is on par with Chevy Chase, but service is much better. Highly Recommended.

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dreadnatty08 from District of Columbia, Mar 26, 2008
Photo of jasgur
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

In downtown DC there is no other option for great beers. Was in there the other day got a Allagash Black (delicious... $13) a 2003 Aventinus (aged world class... $7.00), a Lagunitas Maximus (great... $3.99) and a 30 year Ola Duhb (Amazing... $15). The beer guy is always helpful and friendly. They do tastings in the store which a a nice plus... and the single malt scotch selection is amazing. If your in downtown DC looking for great brew dont let their name fool you...they might as well call themselves the beer specialists.

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jasgur from District of Columbia, Mar 19, 2008
Photo of Chinookie
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%

I had seen this place many times but given the name, had not ventured in (I like wine, but. . . ). I "found" them after doing an Internet search for Anchor Old Potrero 19th. When I went by they no longer had it in stock, but were very friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Then I looked past the whiskey section toward the beer and knew I had hit paydirt nonetheless.

It is now the preferred place to go to stock up for the office's weekly beer-thirty. Excellent selection, decent prices for downtown (better than the place where we used to stock up, Barmy, that has almost as good a selection). In particular, I appreciate that they get things like Bell's Two Hearted in the 5-liter minikeg, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, Hitachino XH, all the Belgians you need (and more), essential Germans and UK, and, as another reviewer pointed out, driving to Indiana to get Three Floyds (I think I got the last one, a six of Robert the Bruce).

The beer buyer there is also looking to get his hands on the Harviestoun Old Engine Oil aged in Highland Park barrels once it is available.

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Chinookie from District of Columbia, Mar 05, 2008
Photo of dsigmon
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%

I come from a place where common courtesy and a helpful hand is something that you almost take for granted as well as having one of the best beer stores on the east coast. Moving to DC found me in culture shock with all of the disrespectful/non-helpful people as well as clueless on places to purchase my favorite micro's. That all ended after finding The Wine Specialist. The beer selection may not be massive (which usually leads to old flat Total Wine) but they do cover all of the basics and you can bet that they only carry the best as well as all of the coveted seasonals. The service here is hands down the best I have received in any retail store since moving here as well as the most knowledgeable of its product. The beer guru here is Tim Schliftman who will not only direct you to beers of your taste but will also go out of his way to inform you about them and when your favorite seasonals or special releases may be getting stocked. All in all I am willing to pay for great fresh beer and wonderful service and the prices are more than reasonable to begin with...hech pick up a great wine while you are there too, the selections are great.

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dsigmon from Florida, Oct 16, 2007
Photo of timtim
4/5  rDev -5.9%

considering that this is primarily a wine store, they have a damn good selection of quality beer. a bunch of belgian and belgian style stuff including russian river, alagash, rochfort 6,8 & 10, orval, st brenardus, chouffe, dupont and some other stuff that i've only seen there. they also had some aged aventinus and the ice aventinus. the prices were good and with the limited ammount of space, i was pretty happy. my new favorite spot second only to chevy chase wine and liquors. whole foods are always good too. my top three in the dc area.

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timtim from District of Columbia, Oct 08, 2007
Photo of jslot38
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%

After living within blocks of this place I finally decided to give it a shot. I had read reports that they had been working to improve the place in terms of beer selection, and I think they've succeeded. Primarily a wine store (hey, look at the name) but the beer section on the left side of the store has a very good selection for a DC store.

Good selections of Allagash, Unibroue, South Hampton, Great Divide, as well as some things that you just can't find in DC. Also, I had a nice conversation with one of the store workers. They seem to take good care of the beer and are both knowledgable and looking to improve their selection. Other nice things: Good international selection (St. Peters, St. Bernardus, Rochefort, Young's, Samuel Smiths, and many more). Ultimately, there are some things here that are tough to find in the DC area. I would suggest giving it a shot.

** Update ** This place is committed to beer. They made a recent trip to Three Floyds and that just goes to show they are willing to do what it takes to get some great beer into DC. I also realized after now having been there three times that their beer guy is the best to talk to in DC. He knows his stuff, is willing to discuss and give suggestions and has a great enthusiasm towards beer. Might not be the biggest selection in DC, but they do provide a great experience.

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jslot38 from South Carolina, Oct 05, 2007
Photo of Toddv29424
3.55/5  rDev -16.5%

I had a long walk home one night and I decided to take a peek into this store. Lots of wine, but there is a section that has some decent beers, and the workers all told me that they are looking to expand their selection. The service was decent... they were all in their early-mid twenties, and none of them knew much about beer, but they were still eager to help. A great selection of trappist beers (Rochefort, Bernardus, Orval), terrific selection of Dogfish Head (including Chateau Jiahu, which i'd never seen), and a good selection of Victory (Prima Pils, Hop Devil, Golden Monkey). Clearly a beerstore that was loading up on the regional favorites before really delving into the international market, but going in with no expectations I was very impressed. And I am sure that this will be one of the premier DC beer stores to come.

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Toddv29424 from District of Columbia, Oct 27, 2006
The Wine Specialist in Washington, DC
Place rating: 4.25 out of 5 with 17 ratings