Finger Lakes Beverage Center


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

(607) 277-2337 | map
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Ratings by Jaybirdbrew:
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Rated by Jaybirdbrew from New York

4.75/5  rDev +5.1%

Aug 10, 2014
More User Ratings:
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Reviewed by DuaneL from Delaware

4.5/5  rDev -0.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5
This is an excellent beer store and you should visit it if you are in Ithaca. The owner, named Pat, showed us around and gave us recommendations for some really great beers from the local area, as well as New York State generally.
He has had the store for 20 years and definitely cares greatly about the place, including hiring a local artist to make a special mural in the back room relating to the history of the building in which he resides. The amount of inventory is staggering, and you could spend many hours perusing the shelves. We are happy with the beers that Pat recommended, a very sweet man and we met his pleasant wife as well, who works alongside him! A great mom and pop-run store.
Dec 30, 2021
Rated: 4.12 by AmeriCanadian from Tennessee

Jun 10, 2021
Rated: 4.32 by 4DAloveofSTOUT from Illinois

Aug 21, 2019
Rated: 4.64 by neliam24 from New York

May 06, 2019
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Reviewed by 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 Their only flaw is they have a lot of bad beer because they have such a big inventory there is a lot of out of date beer.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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Reviewed by 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
Rated: 4.3 by mfowler314 from New York

May 08, 2016
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Reviewed by 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
Rated: 4.6 by Soloveitchik from New York

Feb 16, 2016
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Reviewed by 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
Rated: 4.39 by indianabeerman from Indiana

Jul 09, 2015
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Reviewed by 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
Rated: 4.4 by seanchai from Virginia

Jun 23, 2015
Rated: 4.35 by SonictheBeerhog from New York

May 21, 2015
Rated: 4.14 by TheBeerdedCharmer from Pennsylvania

May 15, 2015
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Reviewed by 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
Rated: 4.07 by chefduff2 from New York

Mar 21, 2015
Rated: 5 by dandp88 from New York

Mar 09, 2015
Rated: 4.29 by dwoolley1 from New York

Feb 21, 2015
Rated: 5 by BurgeoningBrewhead from Pennsylvania

Dec 09, 2014
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Reviewed by 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
Rated: 4.5 by trxxpaxxs from New York

Oct 07, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by bigred89 from Maryland

Aug 23, 2014
Rated: 4 by tviz33 from New York

Jul 20, 2014
Rated: 5 by sam-d66 from Florida

Jul 17, 2014
Rated: 4.25 by Mapples from New York

Jul 08, 2014
Rated: 5 by irishpride from New York

Jun 27, 2014
Rated: 4 by Chickenhawk9932 from Pennsylvania

May 21, 2014
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Reviewed by 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
Rated: 4.75 by butters_mcgee from New York

Apr 04, 2014
Rated: 4.75 by thatisgrossman from New York

Mar 05, 2014
Rated: 4 by djrn2 from New Jersey

Feb 27, 2014
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Reviewed by 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
Rated: 4.5 by kuhndog from New York

Oct 14, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by BeerBucks from New York

Oct 09, 2013
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Reviewed by 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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Reviewed by 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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Reviewed by 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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Reviewed by 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
Finger Lakes Beverage Center in Ithaca, NY
Place rating: 4.52 out of 5 with 94 ratings