Joe Canal's Discount Liquor Outlet

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Joe Canal's Discount Liquor OutletJoe Canal's Discount Liquor Outlet
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Joe Canal's Discount Liquor OutletJoe Canal's Discount Liquor Outlet

Type: Store

3375 Route 1
Lawrence Township, New Jersey, 08648-2414
United States

(609) 520-0008 | map

None provided.

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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 44
Photo of HoppingMadMonk
3.94/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Decent above average selection. Nothing too exciting as far as six packs go. In the separate large bottle selection is where the variety seemed a bit more impressive than most stores

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Photo of MacMalt
3.87/5  rDev -1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

This place is like an aircraft hangar. The selection of craft beers is not as extensive as some of the other Joe Canal's locations but the staff is friendly and helpful.

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Photo of Brushkanna
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

It's a big box store type feel with terrible music. Who cares about the music you say, it is so bad that it makes me leave earlier than i might just to get away from the 70's station they have on.

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Photo of MadCat
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75

Atmosphere: Warehouse feeling, very crowded. Primarily oriented towards wine, not too bad spirit selection, and then feels like beer is almost an afterthought.

Quality: Good I suppose

Service: Plenty of employees around to help if needed, plenty of registers open

Selection: Honestly disappointed me from what I had remembered. They have added a growler station with a substantial amount of taps. The bottle selection was better than your average store, but worse than what you would expect from a store of this size. Better German and Belgian selection than average, but not nearly enough shelf space for the rest of craft. Still could find a few harder to find items.

Value: Nothing is overpriced, but most things aren't bargain priced either

Overall: Not bad, but it was a little disappointing as I had remembered it having a better selection than it does. Still walked away with beer I wanted.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.79/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

I knew about this Joe Canal's from previous visits to the Princeton area but had never visited. This time we happened to be driving right by the store on our way to the nearby "Palace of Asia" Indian restaurant in Lawrenceville (delicious Indian buffet if you care for that).

Gorgeous sunny day, a respite from this bitter nasty cold, and there we go to Joe Canal's wearing sunglasses and short sleeves. Joe Canal's is a massive store, but it is mostly all about wine. The beer is on the back of the store, and the first thing I spotted was cases after cases of BMC. It's all a bit haphazardly distributed, with no order to speak of except for the huge cooler that has most of the craft brews (Troegs, Lagunitas Sucks, Dogfish, Sierra, Weyerbacher Insanity and lots more).

More interesting are the growlers, including Lost Abbey, Hoppin Frog, DuClaw Retribution, Terrapin, Bruery. They even have some Israeli craft beers! Too bad about their being so disorganized...

Their growler station is quite alright, with Great Divide Yeti, Ballast Black Marlin, Neshaminy and more. They do special tappings every week, with stuff like Double Bastard and World Wide Stout.

There is at least one friendly beer guy trolling the aisles, and prices are pretty good. Sign up for the Joe Canal's card and get discounts. A nice store overall, although far from world-class.

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Photo of stephadelphia
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%

Since I'm subject to the antiquated liquor laws of Pennsylvania, I like to stop here at the local Joe Canal's whenever I'm visiting family in my hometown.

The prices are decent, and the "make your own 6-pack" is a great idea - if the beers available are things that appeal to you. Honestly, it's hit or miss here to me. I'm constantly disheartened by how many cases of Bud Light and Miller Chill I have to navigate through before I find 6-packs of things I actually want to come home with. Again, it's hit or miss. Sometimes I leave completely satisfied, and other times, I'm sorry I didn't just make the extra trip to the beer distributor in Philly. I feel like their selection is waning, and hopefully they'll start offering just as much to the craft beer crowd as they do to the Natty Ice crowd. You really have to spend some time combing the aisles to find the gems, in my experience.

I haven't lost all hope, as of yet. If nothing else, I know I can pick up a case of Guinness for a reasonable price if I don't find what I'm looking for.

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Photo of TimHitchings
4/5  rDev +2.3%

I've been visiting Joe Canal's in Lawrenceville pretty much every Friday over the last several months. What has attracted me is their Growler station which opened June/July 2010. The addition of 7 taps with weekly new selections has me visiting their web site to see what is next and checking beeradvocate reviews to make my selection. The personnel poring are always willing to talk beer and will often tell you if they know what is coming next.
The beer aisle for the store is tight and difficult to navigate (I've been spoiled growing up with Julio's in Westborough, MA). There appears to be a wide varity of bears on both the self and in the coolers. Unfortunately there is very little shelf signs and trying to find a meaning in how the individual bottles are arranged is difficult. I'd like to see a better representation of local brewing companies such as Flying Fish. I can hardly ever find Exit 4 (Tripel). Their shelf end caps need to be dressed more often. I asked a clerk to open a end cap box of Mad Elf which he did promptly and handed me the bottle. He failed cause he simply put the box back without cutting it open for display and went on to other work. The General Manager for the store is very response and hard working. I e-mailed him that the growler station web page was out of date and he had the problem fixed in 15 minutes. I'm hopeful that with the explosion in craft beers that Joe Canal's growler station is the first step in improving their beer presence in the area.

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Photo of IdrinkGas
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.25

Its a huge place filled with mostly liquor and wine. They have beer by the case or single bottle. Growler fills were also available here. I think there were 5 taps. Surprisingly found a bottle of Firestone Fourteen. Some mead was on shelves here, which I thought was interesting Prices were lower than what I am used to seeing. Even beers from Victory and Troegs were cheaper than in my home state. Lots of people available if you need help.. All bottles were neatly organized, label facing forward and all that. Definitely stopping here again next time I pass by.

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Photo of Gmann
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%

Decided to stop by here during my stay in Princeton. It is a fairly large store that houses mostly wine and hard alcohol. The last aisle in the store was dedicated to craft beer as well as the cooler on the other side of the aisle. It had your standard import selection (heavier on the Belgians), nothing too exotic or anything I couldn't find on LI. I did purchase a Urthel that I haven't seen before. My main objective was to find beer that I can't get in NY and I was able to so. I picked up some loose bottles of Terrepin and some New Holland offerings. The rest of the American craft selection was your widely distributed crafts from the country or the Northeast. The did have several local brews that I have never heard of. The service was non-existant and by the size of the place, I'm sure that is always the case. The selection was good, not great. The imports can use some more English and German offerings. All in all I was happy I stopped in and got some brews that I can't get on LI.

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Photo of BigIrishman
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

I go to this place every once in a while, as it's about 2 minutes from work. The beer selection is pretty decent, they have a good selection of american craft and european imports. When a new brewery makes it's way to NJ, Joe Canals has them pretty quickly. They limit their supply to the "main" beers from each brewery, so the super special releases you'll have to go elsewhere. The service is pretty bad, any question I've asked usually just gets answered with confused looks and not sures. Overall their prices are decent, not great...sometimes they'll clearance a selection of bottles. Overall this place is my fall back, I always hit up the Buy Rite on 130 first because the selection and prices are better and the staff is awesome and really helpful.

But whatever you do, STAY AWAY FROM THE SA TRIPLE BOCK, it's definitely oxidated and heat struck.

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Photo of BeerNemesis
3.4/5  rDev -13%

This place has a MASSIVE selection of microbrews for such an out of the way location. It literally has about a 50-60 aisle stacked high with various beers.

On the downside, there's nothing too exotic. I picked up a DeuS, DFH Worldwide stout, and DFH Palo Santo among others. I was please to see an Ommegang BPA (which is somewhat rare). Otherwise, the selection is heavily skewed towards East Coast beers. One nice thing is that they often have signs in front of the beers giving the Ba and Ratebeer ratings. They don't do this for all of them, but it's a nice touch.

The staff is not all that knowledgeable about the beer either. Apparently, they don't know how often they get new shipments (prolly need to talk to the manager next time) or if they plan to stock up on seasonals. I was quite disappointed with the lack of knowledge, but even more so with their ridiculous store policy: No one under 21 is allowed in the store. In fact, if you check out with someone who's 20, they'll blacklist you for the day and refuse to take your order. The policy is inane and discourages business.

Overall, I'd rank the selection this way (out of 5):
Size: 5.0
Breadth: 3.5
Price: 3.5 (no amazing discounts, but affordable)
Freshness: 4.0
Rarity: 3.0

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Photo of joemeister
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%

Before I was 21, I used to pass this place all the time, and I never really gave it a second thought. But since I live in PA, I get fed up with having to buy beer by the case at all of the state-run stores. So, I ventured out to Princeton and hit Joe Canal's.

The selection is pretty good. I was surprised and elated to see individual bottles - mixing and matching is the only way to shop. They have a good selection of DFH (I was there specifically for the WW Stout and 120 IPA), Sam Adams, Yards, etc. They also have roughly 80-100 beers from breweries I've never heard of. It will take me a good while before I exhaust the novelty of the selection.

Worth mentioning are the aisles and aisles of wine and liquor. It's no joke. Their wine/liquor selection is well in the 4.5-5 range.

I do have one issue - don't plan on checking out with anyone under 21 unless they are your kids. I picked up my brother (20 yrs old) from Rutgers one Friday and on the way back home I wanted to see if they had any DFH 120 left (I'm always on the lookout). We went in, grabbed the last two bottles, but they refused to sell to me, citing store policy. In their defense, there is a giant red sign near the entrance that says everyone in your "party" has to be 21, if they are not, then even the over-21 people get blacklisted for 24 hours. But really, the policy is obviously just for the sake of appearance because all you have to do is make the underage folks wait in the car. Actually, they can even go in with you as long as they don't check out with you. It's stupid, but whatever. Otherwise, service has been average. It may be different if you're looking for wine or liquor because that seems to be their forte.

Overall, good selection, better than buying by the case in PA. Customer service is average (not bad) but be weary of store policies that serve to realize superficial goals. Also, just because they have 10 bottles of DFH 120 in the fridge doesn't mean you can buy all of them, so wipe that grin off your face: it's a rationed item.

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Photo of DrKnoskelson
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%

Joe Canal's is by far one of the best liquor stores around. They have an astonishing selection of wine, both domestic and international. As a resident of PA, this place is always cheaper and well worth the drive. Their hard liquor prices are very reasonable, but their sales are amazing. Great selection of microbrew. One of the first places to have Southern Tier Brewing, great selection of Avery, and Dogfish Head. They allow for the purchase of individual bottles which is great for people looking to sample before investing on a case. Their case prices are fantastic. They also have great prices on kegs. I always shop Canals before a party as they have lager for around $70 and miller lite for $63.

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Photo of TheFightfan1
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%

Well my wife and I went here on Saturday in some nasty snowy weather.When you first walk in you think damn am I in the right place? Wine and liquor all over the place. As we made our way around we came to the back of the store and there is the beer section. Alot of goodies in here. We picked up a bunch of Belgians Westmalle,Rochefort, etc.Sam Adams triple bock, Thomas hardy's ale. A few others. This stuff is very hard to find except down in Philadelphia. Which is a bit of a trip from our home.The prices were very cheap for those Belgians but for the others like Sierra Nevada ,Troegs , Founders it was pretty much the same as back home.

As for the service the staff seemed a little unfriendly. Constantly pushing you out of the way as they walk by with cases,ladders etc. None really helpful at all to be honest. I guess we just came at a bad time.

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Photo of DrJay
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%

I've stopped in here a few times now over the past couple years, mainly when I have to head to Princeton for work. As another reviewer mentioned, they're pretty strict about carding so be warned. The beer section is in the back, with a meager selection of full cases and a good selection of 6 packs and singles. Many of the singles are in the coolers that line the back wall, along with packaged product including some mixed 12 packs. About half the singles are on shelves at room temp. Although the requisite BMC is present, the majority of the beer is US and imported craft. Recently I've picked up Stone (including special releases), Rock Art, Weyerbacher, Left Hand, and many other surprises. Their import selection is decent, with a few from the UK (I picked up some Meantime last visit) and a fair selection of Belgians (lots of Fantome). Service has always been decent, but not outstanding. I'll continue to hit this place when in the area.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%

A good selection of American micros from Rogue, Lefthand, Dogfishead, Lagunitas, Smuttynose, and Stone. There is a few Belgians (20?) including Fantome which you cant go wrong and Achel (trappist) from time to time was spotted. They have mostly bombers on their shelf but do have a decent selection of singles (20-30) available from time to time and always changes. They tend to get some of the harder to find stuff by flexing their purchasing muscle since they are a larger retail chain that smaller local stores may not be able to get due to limited releases. A nice Denmark mead "Vikings blod" was a nice surprise I haven't seen elsewhere.

Your pretty much on your own. Stockers are there to do just that and appear to only be moderately advised on speciality beers.

Prices are moderate-pricey but you pay the premium to get some of the harder to find stuff not found elsewhere from time to time. Worth the extra nickel or dime spent.

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Photo of Ieatlambfries
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%

I've lived a few miles away from this Joe Canals location for the last 4 years and it is certainly my favorite local liqueur store. With a few other notable stores within a few minutes drive, I'm certainly not bound to Joe Canals as my only choice. So the fact that I go there regularly is a testament to their quality selection.

They have made some great changes to their beer department in the last year, I would assume partly due to their renovation. The most notable being they now allow you to create mixed six packs. The selection they will allow you to mix is not huge, but they defiantly throw in some quality beers on a regular basis such as DFH 90 minute and Victory Hop Devil.

They have also expanded their unrefrigerated selection of bombers and special edition beers. If you enjoy trying something new on a regular basis they will not disappoint you.

The service is good and there are a few guys on staff that are knowledgeable about craft beer. They are very strict about ID and on weekends usually have a cop stationed at the front door IDing folks as they come in. This is really for the best, but I have to say a friend of mine from Canada who was working in the U.S. was denied entry even though she could provide a drivers license, passport, birth certificate and working visa. They would not accept her ID and then would not serve me that night as well, (I'm 32 years old.) That certainly left me with a bad taste being that many, many people in this area are here from abroad working. They should be better equipped to deal with that as the Princeton area is a special circumstance with all of the Pharma and Technology companies as well as the University.

All in all though I rarely leave without purchasing something I've never tried before. They have really stepped it up in the last year with their ever rotating selection of bombers. I'm glad to have a store like this around.

On a side note they also expanded their already impressive wine selection and have recently started conducting wine tasting seminars as well.

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Photo of aalappatel
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%

Joe Canals (now known as Bottle Smart) has an excellent selection of microbrews at very reasonable prices. They recently started carrying many more 22oz bottle beers which is awesome. They keep all their microbrews in a temperator controlled room with no sunlight which keeps them really fresh. They typically have everything in stock. They recently introduced a build-your-own-6-pack where you can buy a variety of beers for a good price. In addition, they recently built a tasting room into the store which will be cool. The store is very accessable since it is right off Route 1 in Lawrenceville. I buy all my liquor from this store and I highly recommend them.

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Photo of RutgersBeerGuy
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%

This place is very sizable, although a huge portion of that space is taken up by wine, which is clearly their "thing".

The beer section is certainly substantial, however, and is well stocked.

There is a mix and match 6 pack section with select offerings from Sam Adams, Smuttynose, Dogfish Head, Brooklyn Brewery, Victory, Magic Hat, Anchor, River Horse, and others.

Many items are available either refrigerated or regularly shelved.

They are very serious about id checks, and it is not unusual to be carded upon entering the store.

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Photo of jrodvog148
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%

Has the best selection of beer in the Trenton area. Reasonable prices and great customer service with people who know what they are talking about.

They now have a make your own six pack with a select few of micros. Have remodeled about a year ago and expanded their selection. You can find some rare beers here every now and then. Most of the micros coming in single bottle purchase which is great for those who are out expanding their tastes. You also won't have to blow a lot of money on a case of beer you might not like. The downside is if you really like the beer, you don't get t case price.

They carry all your major name brands by the normal packaging sizes.

The store has a great wine selection which makes up the majority of the store.
3/28/09 horrible customer service three times there. I now shop at the sister store in Hamilton Square.

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Photo of akorsak
3.76/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Quality: A nice store, although the layout is a little weird. The wine is prominent but the the beers were hidden on the far side of the store. Additionally I got lost once looking for a cart.

Service: I got a 'hello' walking down the aisle but that was my only contact with service prior to checkout. Honestly though, I am not looking for 4-star service when I am beer shopping therefore I bumped it up .5.

Selection: Selection was decent. A nice selection of cold singles, including Rogue, Sly Fox, Southampton, Cantillon, Sam Adams Triple Bock, Lagunitas. There were also good selections of six packs from PA and surrounding areas. Finally, they helped me get my 2006 Ommegang gift pack with a nice new goblet.

Value is what you make of it. I dropped $30 on St. Lamvinus but under $5 on the 1995 Triple Bock.

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Photo of HimerMan
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%

Great place. This was my location for over 90% of my purchases throughout college; and still a small percentage of where I'd buy beers now.

Location - incredible easy to find on route 1, on the southbound side; still easy to get to after the construction in the area.

Quality - Nothing 100% outstanding here, but a very large selection of every kind of beer from the familiar names. Victory, Brooklyn, Rogues, Southampton, Flying Fish, Dogfishhead, Otter Creek, Riverhorse, Variety packs, Heavyweight, random lambics, small Belgian selection, Stone - including the Russian Imperial Stout, Arrogant Bastard and Ruinition...and many more.

Anyway, great service. Very friendly, huge wine selection - this is literally a warehouse of wines and fairly nice vodka and whiskey selection. If you are in the area and need other harder-to-find hard liquors though, Wegmans is just down the road. (I am actually the reason they started stocking the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout which makes me give them a higher service score. This was a beer that even in the NJ/NY area was hard to find 50+ miles outside of the city. Eventually in 2003 I got it there, and since then have seen it there every year since.)

Overall value - fairly cheap, just know what you are buying, not everything is a great price. Rogue for $3.99 is a good deal, but some of the wines are oddly priced.

Enjoy the selection, my trips there usually last a while - I like to see everything that is new.

Great place, they even re-modeled it since I was in college - very nicely changed.

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Photo of NiceGuyMike
3/5  rDev -23.3%

I've been to this place many times for wine and other spirits, but since I've joined BA and the "revolution" I have only made two trips. I was underwhelmed by their selection on the first trip. There was some decent brews to select from, but it's just average. One thing I noted was most of the shelves where the 750s are stored were empty. So a few months later I went back hoping they filled the selves and had more selection. There did seem to be more to select from, but a lot of shelf space remained bare.

One thing to note is they had Sam Adam's tripple bock. I purchased a bottle, but when the casheir came up zilch ringing me up, he called for assistance. While waiting he took my bottle and started shaking it. That pissed me off.

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Photo of Billolick
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%

Warehouse type space in a shopping center. Rows and rows of cases of wine, stacked up to the roof. Beer is afforded the last row of shelving (Warm cases ) and a huge amount of cooler space along the back wall. Service was friendly and helpful abd friendly. Selection was huge, making this a very worthwhile BA stop. Tons east coast micros, Cali, Colo etc and way more then the usual Belgians, Brits, Germans etc. Didnt have much time but was able to pick up some nice stuff to sample that I cant find by me.

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Photo of jrancan
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Solid place. Selection isn't as good as nearby Circle Liquors in Pennington, but the prices are a whole lot better and the service is much friendlier. You probably won't find any major surprises, but they do have some good specials. Located right on Rt 1 South, they also have a large selection of wines. Can't buy most of the beers as singles (other than the BIG Belgians),but you can get them by the six or the case.

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Joe Canal's Discount Liquor Outlet in Lawrence Township, NJ
Place rating: 3.91 out of 5 with 44 ratings