Finger Lakes Beverage Center


605 W State St
Ithaca, New York, 14850-3343
United States

(607) 277-2337 | map

View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 67 | Ratings: 93 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of The_Beer_Guru
The_Beer_Guru from New York

4.24/5  rDev -6.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Great place with an awesome selection! If you're a craft beer lover you better have a lot in your wallet because you will become a kid in a candy store as soon as you enter their store. They have a lot of warm and cold beer as well as different sodas in glass bottles. Their only flaw is they have a lot of bad beer because they have such a big inventory there is a lot of out of date beer. Beer before there "best by" date or well after their bottled date. Every time I go now I check the date on the bottles I buy because when i first visited I bought a good amount of IPAs and a lot were old. The hops lost their flavor because it was on the shelf too long. Overall great store, just remember to check the date on the bottles.

Nov 21, 2017
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epyon396 from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev -4.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

Ok. So keep this in mind while you read my review. I live in Philly, where we are super-spoiled. Cantillion, Russian River, Drie Fonteinen, and other awesome things are readily available in my area.

And this bottle shop blew my mind. I was giddy. I'm jealous of people in Ithaca.

"Huge selection" does not even begin to cover it. Expansive and cavernous building, especially in the back coolers. The place seems unorganized at first, but then you realize that it is broken up by region. I have no idea what the review below me is talking about with "NY brews and clearance beers" and "nonexistent pricing". This is simply wrong. The only beer that I noticed that didn't have a price was Firestone Walker Bretta Rose, which I didn't care how much it was. I bought several. Eclipse variants, Almanac, a buttload of Mikkeller, Westbrook Gose, Single Cut, Drie Fonteinen were just the things that I bought. Practically every region and country are covered to some degree in this store. Prices are more than fair, as well.

The staff had no problem helping me discern the difference between the Eclipse variants (nothing on this earth can make me second guess myself like that wax) and gave me samples of the beers on tap while I was zipping around the store like a hummingbird filling my cart. Not out of their way friendly, but friendly enough.

If you're in the area, stop here and Northstar House. Seriously.

May 22, 2016
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Stignacious from New York

2.6/5  rDev -42.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.25 | service: 2.25 | selection: 2

Went here on a whim while traveling through Ithaca. I'd read some of the rave reviews and heard positive feedback about the place, so I had high expectations going in. I was let down. Big time. First off, it's not as big as some people make it seem, and highly disorganized. The only shelving units with any semblance of order are dedicated to NY brews and, wait for it, clearance beers. Everything else is supposedly clumped together by region, but that didn't really play out as described. Pricing is virtually nonexistent, and what is there is really, really hard to read. The service is sub-par as well. Not recommended.

Apr 03, 2016
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mynie from Maryland

4.83/5  rDev +6.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

I stopped reviewing most bottle shops a while ago, since 1) there's often usually just one game in town, and it's not like people are going to make travel plans just to go to beer stores, and 2)things can change a lot in a short amount of time, and store visiting experience can vary wildly trip by trip.

I'm reviewing the Finger Lakes Beverage Center, though, because it is probably the best beer store I have ever been to. The only ones that come close are Waterbury's Beer Cellar and Milwaukee's Discount Liquors and Three Cellars, but each of those go for a very different vibe.

They don't sell beer at liquor stores in NY state. Meaning, a beer store is a beer store. And this is the largest, most sprawling, most obviously well cared for beer store I've ever been to. They have a cold section that puts any Binny's to shame, single bottle selections for a large variety of local, midwest, and east coast brews, large and nicely rotated selections of Belgian, Scandinavian, English, continental, and Japanese brews, and a fantastic and cheap variety of macro domestics. Also growlers.

The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and they had enough people working that there were no lines, even as people were getting their growlers filled. The vibe was pleasant and middle class--didn't have the grimy liquor store feel--and the prices were markedly cheaper than what I've gotten used to in Massachusetts.

Feb 14, 2016
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ClavisAurea from New York

4.51/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

Lots to choose from. Great local NY selection and some stuff from the West coast assuming the breweries distribute. They drive to NYC to get some more obscure selections.

Jun 23, 2015
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Ken05 from New York

4.24/5  rDev -6.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

The remodel is about complete and Wow! This store rocks. It is laid out very nicely with over a 1000 different beers. Everything is new, clean and the lighting is much improved. They added tons of coolers and doubled or tripled the square footage. The World class rating can now apply for sure.

Apr 11, 2015
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logicalparadox from New York

4.51/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

I defy you to find a better bottle shop anywhere in the region, if not the state. I haven't yet found a store with a bigger selection, wider variety, and more amazing shopping experience for buying beer. Well over 1,000 beers stocked, all available as singles (!!!). While stores like Wegmans are finally starting to feature greatly improved selection, they are still dwarfed by FLBC. They also lack service and, while they have a mix-a-six option, the choices there are limited to a small set of mixer options. They won't do singles. There are a few other places in Ithaca that offer good craft beer selections and also sell singles, but those don't come close to matching FLBC in scope. No, you won't find Heady Topper or Pliney the Elder, but you're not going to find that anywhere else around here, either, for distribution reasons. If you want to see a grown-ass man prance down the isles of a store like a 5 year old in Toys 'R Us, this is the place.

The store expanded not too long ago and now has a vast refrigerated section. Here, too, you can grab singles. In fact, they will happily let you remove a cold beer from a refrigerated six pack and replace it with a warm single off the shelves. In fact, they will tell you it's fine not to replace it... they will take care of it, no problem.

The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and and happy to help you find something or help provide you some advice. The quality of advice varies based on who's in the shop and turnover, but typically it's pretty good.

Another feature of the recent expansion is a beautiful counter top/bar front where they have about a dozen taps for growler fills. The choices there rotate regularly. They are also usually happy to allow a few free samples. They aren't licensed as a bar, so you can't order a pint and drink it there, but a little taste is just good for stimulating the taste buds as you ponder what to get or to sample something before committing to a purchase.

Ithaca is extremely lucky to have a place like this and it speaks to the thriving nature of craft beer culture in the Finger Lakes and in Ithaca that this place exists and is itself thriving.

If there's one place where FLBC falls down, it's quality control. Their commitment to selection (and offering quality products), availability, and service is truly impressive. But that same commitment doesn't extend to caring for the actual products themselves in order to keep them fresh. You'll find plenty of stale beers if you look for them... hoppy ales that are clearly months past their best by dates and yet are left on the shelves at full price. If you point this out, all you'll get is a casual shrug of the shoulders. Once had a staff member here joke about how silly it was for Stone to ship it's Enjoy By IPA cold; "it's just going to end up warm on the shelves anyway", he said with an almost mocking tone. Well, Stone does that because they are really and truly and obsessively committed to quality: bringing you the freshest possible beer once it gets to the store. If only the store was that obsessed with keeping it fresh (cold) and promoting it so they could move the product quickly to customers equally obsessed with consuming it fresh. This is just really disappointing to me, especially at a place that should utterly epitomize passion for the products they are selling.

If there's another flaw worth pointing out, it's the difficulty of navigating the huge selection. The staff are helpful, but there's no inventory for you to browse or check for one particular thing. The beers are loosely arranged by region and then by brewery (standard) but there's no way to see what's new. This makes it hard for finding seasonals. If you want to find all the oktoberfest/pumpkin beers/christmas ales/fresh hop harvest releases/summer beers/whatever, you'll have to comb the whole store. If you want to know what's new since the last time you've been in, your options are ask (and hope they don't forget anything) or go on an easter egg hunt through the isles. They really need to make their full inventory available somehow, either online or via a in a terminal or even in print. Even just a leaderboard of new arrivals would be nice. It's a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

Lastly, there are no item descriptions or staff picks or anything of the like. Wegmans and some other shops will have shelf talkers with product descriptions and sometimes ratings from popular sources such as Beer Advocate (which, as can be seen on profile pages freely offers printable Shelf Talkers for each beer) or Rate Beer. Many other shops will at least offer staff picks of the week (helpful once you find a staff member who shares your tastes). With a selection this big, it'd really be nice to see. I can't imagine a wine store that didn't have description cards and staff picks, but sadly this seems to still be a rare thing done right at even the best beer stores.

Nov 20, 2014
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Dmmflys from Illinois

4.28/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 2.5

This place had a great selection. The owner was very helpful and nice. They had good selection of local stuff I can't get in chicago. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
I only gave it a 3 for atmosphere because they where doing construction but from the looks of it the store should be great after they are done.

Apr 26, 2014
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.02/5  rDev -11.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Great beer store, stopped in on my trip to Ithaca.

Bit of an industrial warehouse look to it. 5-6 aisles of all craft beers. Packs can be broken up into singles, no problem. Every typical craft beer you can think of is here, along with a few more choice selections scattered throughout. No service to speak of- not bad or good, just none. No help in selecting my brews, even though I didn't really need it. Cashier seemed friendly enough, though. Prices were ok, not great, not bad.

Jan 27, 2014
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VaporDome from New York

4.3/5  rDev -4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

Lots of beers in a very small space. You might have to squeeze by someone or even wait until they're finished before you can look at the beers. Not super well organized but not bad.

Many top quality beers here. Lagunitas, Stone, AleSmith, Founders, Dogfish Head. I'm fairly certain that you can get everything as a single if you choose to. They have a small refrigerated section and a cheap section.

Employees weren't that friendly unless they know you already but they were very knowledgeable and knew where everything was.

They have a growler bar with some interesting things on tap. Dogfish Head Bitches Brew was up last time I checked. The bar guy was very willing to talk about each one and let you sample them.

Prices are pretty normal to a bit high for some beers but the prices were mostly reasonable overall.

Mar 03, 2013
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warmstorage from California

4.04/5  rDev -10.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5

Agree with others who have spoken of the selection: it's fantastic, even if not clearly organized. You have to browse the various narrow isles to find out what they have.

The quality of the beer in house is way high: lots of top-shelf beer. But also a wall, and I think an entire room, of college get drunk fast and taste nothing beer. Fine, sell to your local demographic, but a lot of gross shit there.

The service, well, was... fine. Nobody approached me. A couple people sort of looked my way, but then ignored me.

No food that I saw.

A very interesting looking growler bar, and I wish I'd had a growler handy.

The value, well... the usual upstate beers that are solidly priced, were solidly priced: Middle Ages, Ithaca, etc. The out of towners were somewhat to quite expensive. This is not a value buy place.

My biggest complaint was the VERY limited selections that are refrigerated: if you want me to pay $18 for a bomber or $22 for a corker and caged 750ml, can you at least have some of it refrigerated?

I accept that it might very well be the best place in Ithaca. But a 100, World Class? Nope.

Dec 09, 2012
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rlee1390 from Indiana

4.71/5  rDev +4.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Can't believe I've never reviewed this place. Been there multiple times while travelling through Ithaca.

The service is great, within a minute or two of browsing a worker asks me if I need help. At first I thought it was because I'm a twenty-something young looking lad. However one time my grandparents were going to Ithaca (who could pass up a free hour long ride to get beer) and I stopped in with them. Workers asked both my grandparents if they needed help. Great service.

Selection is amazing. Singles are offered, they seem to get the more sought after releases; Nugget Nectar, 120 Min (not that rare but nice to see them getting good amounts).

There is also a glassware shelf that sells all sorts of glassware.

They have a growler system, I can not speak to what they have/rotation. All I know is that one time they did a a Southern Tier Draft Only beer, so one could guess they get a decent selection.

Jun 13, 2012
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mobius024 from New York

4.88/5  rDev +8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Everything the previous reviewers say regarding range, quality, etc. is true. The Belgian section is outstanding. I've been going there for years. Mostly, this review is in response to another review stating they seem not to have some particular regional micros they really ought to stock. Three Floyd's was mentioned (with good reason). I've asked forThree Floyd's, as well as Russian River. In both instances the owner was as bummed as I that they were unable stock those beers. Basically, if there is a microbrewery with a good reputation and they don't have it on hand, there is a business reason preventing it.

May 08, 2012
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TDRudy from New York

4.88/5  rDev +8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I thought I had been to good beer stores. I was wrong. This is close to the platonic form of a beer store. The selection is hugely extensive, well organized, and reasonably priced. Bottles are available in packs or as singles, and most beers are carried in multiple sizes if available. From Brewers I've never heard of to beer's I haven't heard of from Brewers you'd have to be on mars not to have heard of, this place has damn near everything you could want- my only complaint is that there seems to be a focus on imports at the expense of some less common domestic micros, especially those coming out of the midwest (Three Floyds, unless I missed it, is a glaring example).

Feb 16, 2012
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keithmurray from Connecticut

4.44/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Stopped here on a trip to Ithaca.

Heard very good things about the FLBC so I had to stop in and see what all the fuss was about.

Walked in and it is bigger than it looks like from the outside. Aisles upon aisles of beer, glorious beer, I'd say about 6 or 7 aisles in all.

The beer here is very organized, as it is divvied up by region. Belgians, Germans, English and domestic beers all have their own section, clearly delineated.

The selection here is simply amazing. They had items I have never seen anywhere else before. Belgians such as Tsjees, Gouden Carolus, Westmalle.

Tons of domestics Great lakes, Sixpoint, Brooklyn, Troegs, Stoudts, etc. I could drop tons of money at this place, I was glad I stopped in.

Prices are displayed and they break down 6 pack prices as well as single prices. Prices are fair here

Nov 07, 2011
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Durchfall from New Jersey

5/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I found out about this place last year. I was going to the local Wegman's to purchase my beer because they were the only place in the area that seemed to have a decent selection. I went to a restaurant on the same street as the Finger Lakes Beverage Center and decided to go in one day.

Looks like your typical store aisles with shelves of beer. In the back is where they have all of the non craft stuff and Soda (their Soda selection is huge as well).

One of the best selections I have seen hands down. They have had everything I have ever wanted and then some.

The nice thing about this place too is that they have a huge selection of singles as well, so you can mix and match to your heart's content.

They also have a really extensive International section which I have yet to scratch the surface of.

Prices are reasonable and the staff is great too. If you need help they will give it. If you don't ask for it they won't bug you like a lot of places do. I just like to browse in peace.

Lastly they always have a few beers on tap which is nice while you are browsing.

If you are in the Ithaca area I would definitely recommend visiting them.

Sep 08, 2011
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sliverX from S. Georgia & S. Sandwich Isls.

4.16/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Atmosphere- looks like your average beverage store lost some points (in my book) for having Jimmy Buffet on the speakers and singing along.
Quality looked fine other than when trying to find best by dates and they seemed to have been wiped clear, the guy dusting with a wet cloth could be a culprit.
Service was fine cash guy was friendly no one asked if we needed help which is fine by me.
I think there were 3 or 4 breweries stocked here that we don't get in Buffalo which is why I wanted to stop along with more local things we only see on occasion like horseheads bc.
Some things seemed cheaper than normal and some seemed pricey I'd lean its slightly pricey here but college town best selection I expect a bit of a increase.
also if you're into craft soft drinks this place is jammed full of them it was hard to pick which birch beers I wanted for the ride home. If in Ithaca again I'll stop for sure.

Aug 01, 2011
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atr2605 from New York

5/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Best place to purchase craft beer. This is my regular stop whenever I am looking to pick up some new craft beers. Even though some of our local grocery stores have started to carry larger craft beer brewers, the beverage center has plenty more to choose from. The staff is always helpful and pleasant, and their prices are right on par with everyone else. Oh, and they also have quite a few beers to choose from on tap which they rotate on a regular basis. They also have coolers of macro brews, so if you are having people over you can still pick up a mix of generic and craft brews. If you love beer and are in the Ithaca area, you have to stop by the beverage center.

Jun 09, 2011
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Vierenner from Ohio

5/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

What a pleasant surprise! Visiting Ithaca on a college trip ... looked up local craft brew stores and visited Finger Lakes Beverage Center because of the large amount of positive reviews. Biggest supply of craft beer I've ever seen!! The owner provided one-on-one customer service as we paraded through the well-stocked store. Sampled several beers on tap ... engaged in good conversation. Was led to a supply of one of my "want" beers!
If ever in the Ithaca area, this is a must visit destination!

Apr 07, 2011
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suspect from New York

4.55/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5

This place has become one of my favorite places to stop on a weekly basis! The first thing that hits me when I walk in the door is the sheer size of it and how it's lined with bottles. I've never had a problem finding stuff I want here. The only problem I've ever had here is trying not to spend too much. I've had some issues with beers past their prime.

Pat, the owner, and Nick, his son are really solid guys who will spend the time to talk beer with you if you want. If you'd like to be left alone to peruse the aisles on your own, you are free yo do that as well. This is a wonderful small business and I'm proud to call it "my beer store."

I'm not a huge soda guy but if I was - they have the largest selection of soda I've ever seen.

If you are even close to Ithaca - do yourself a favor and stop here!

Apr 01, 2011
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Durge from Connecticut

4.5/5  rDev -0.4%

Yes, the reviews don't lie. This is a little jewel for beer lovers. While it isn't exactly tiny in size, it is true that they pack a mightly load of great beer (and soda) into those 4 walls. The staff does not hound you but they were attentive enough to be sure you weren't frustrated or lost at all, and they were very accommodating when engaged. They had a nice line up of growler taps, about 9 or 10 in all as I recall, and the bottled stuff was several solid rows of stuff from all over the country and a decent import selection as well. They have a glassware section and sell some beer shirts, and they seemed to have some specials on new and older items. There were lots of beers that I had not seen in my home state of Connecticut, even though they were brands that we carry. Although one curious thing was that many of the unusual ones I found were not highly rated brews on BA so I was able to manage my escape without dipping to heavily into funds. Brands like Erie and Dundee and specialties like Abita Christmas Ale, and many others that caught my attention and readied my wallet but ultimately researched out to taking a pass for the moment. Not to say I didn't leave some goodies behind, for sure, but apparently nothing that I could have told my grandchildren about. My favorite find for the day, though it remains to be seen if it will be worth the wait, was a bomber of Boulder's Killer Penguin from 2009! Been looking for that since 2009! Great selection of Great Lakes and many, many breweries that I frankly wasn't sure i'd ever heard of. They certainly don't have everything, but I'd match them against most anybody else for domestics and their import stock was more than solid as well. Most of the stock appears to be available as singles at a fair premium and they provide six-pack holders for the luxury. This is a friendly stop on the beer trail that is sure to provide some fun surprises to most BA enthusiasts. A must stop along with the Ithaca Brewing Company tasting room and the Chapter House.

Feb 19, 2011
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mgbickel from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev -0.4%

One of the few bottle shops we decided to stop at during our trip to Lake Placid, NY.

Man...they have lots of beer...isles and isles...six packs and big bottles, mix and match singles and even a growler fill area. I imagine pretty much everything that is available in NY is here...

I was greeted at the door, but pretty much left alone after that...which is fine with me.

Another note...they have the largest "craft" soda selection I have ever seen.

This store ranks right up there with the big boys of bottle shops. I am really happy I got to stop by and will make sure I stop by again if I am in the area.

Feb 06, 2011
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indiapaleale from Maine

4.5/5  rDev -0.4%

Holy crap does this place have a TON of beer.

Here are the highlights:

*Immense selection - you name it, they've got it
*Mix and match an insane amount of singles
*Growler fill station
*Brewery t-shirts and glassware
*Nice selection of hard to find bombers
*Lots of canned craft beers

Great place to spend an hour picking out some beers. Staff was helpful but not annoying. The regional beer selection can't be beat. They've got more local offerings than any other place I've been to in upstate NY and I'd say I like this place more than both Halftime and Beers of the World (just my opinion).

I go here everytime I am in the area...

Jan 28, 2011
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mbusster88 from New York

4.3/5  rDev -4.9%

Called them up the day before looking for some Dieu Du Ciel Peche Mortel, and crazy enough they had it. I have been looking for at least 6 months at every place I go to. This small beverage seller had the hardest beer for me to find! They held a couple for me overnight so I could drive down the next day (nearly an hour drive for me). When I got there I was asked about help a couple times, and wandered for a while. Prices seemed as good or better and the larger places I have gone. Really like the selection, as well as quality. Generally things seemed good date wise, but some did have old dates. Fortunately Peche Mortel is not a date issue. Really recommend this stop whether driving through or if your somewhat local like myself.

Oct 30, 2010
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codewarrior from New York

4.4/5  rDev -2.7%

This place is seriously unreal. I didn't talk with the staff much, they just left me to my own devices ... considering how much i spent, I'm pretty glad they did.

What I purchased:

3 Souther Tier Pumpking
1 Southern Tier Cuvee Series 1
1 Southern Tier Cuvee Series 2
1 Captain Lawrence XTRA Gold Tripel
1 2009 Ithaca Beer Co. Excelsior Alphalpha
2 Dogfish Head Bitches Brew
1 Rodenbach Grand Cru
2 2009 Ommegang Ommegedon Batch #4
1 Smuttynose Gravitation
2 The Bruary Black Orchard

... and I left so much on the table. The amount of stuff that's just sitting on the shelves here ... 3 unique Brew Dog Paradoxes, 2010 Festina Peche (summer seasonal, still stocked in October ... not sure if that's a good thing), Brooklyn Black Ops, and on and on and on.

In addition to all that, they have severely local stuff here ... Horseheads brewery for example, and lots of it, lots of single-brews sitting around from 2008, and to my shock the second I pulled 4 Bitches Brews off the shelves, they were immediately restocked (this is before I discovered that they had bitches brew ... in a f---ing cooler ... reminded me of finding black albert cooled at Colorado Liquor mart).

this place is just ridiculous, seriously, you could easily drop $500 without much thought here. Just an absurd selection ... I would just caution you to check the freshness date on beers where freshness is appropriate ... as their stock obviously doesn't move very quickly.

Oct 01, 2010
Finger Lakes Beverage Center in Ithaca, NY
Place rating: 4.52 out of 5 with 93 ratings