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Finger Lakes Beverage Center

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BA SCORE
98
world-class

66 Reviews
PLACE INFO

Type: Store

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

(607) 277-2337 | map
fingerlakesbeverage.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by bog

PLACE STATS
Score:
98
Reviews:
66
Ratings:
89
Avg:
4.49
pDev:
7.57%
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 89
Reviews by suspect:
Photo of suspect
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
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!

 813 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of epyon396
4.32/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

 1,425 characters

Photo of mfowler314
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Photo of Stignacious
2.6/5  rDev -42.1%
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.

 625 characters

Photo of Soloveitchik
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Photo of mynie
4.83/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

 1,415 characters

Photo of indianabeerman
4.39/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25

Photo of ClavisAurea
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
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.

 170 characters

Photo of seanchai
4.4/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of SonictheBeerhog
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of TheBeerdedCharmer
4.14/5  rDev -7.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Photo of Ken05
4.24/5  rDev -5.6%
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.

 295 characters

Photo of chefduff2
4.07/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Photo of dandp88
5/5  rDev +11.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Photo of dwoolley1
4.29/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of logicalparadox
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
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.

 4,942 characters

Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of bigred89
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Jaybirdbrew
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of tviz33
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of sam-d66
5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of Mapples
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of irishpride
5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4/5  rDev -10.9%

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Finger Lakes Beverage Center in Ithaca, NY
4.49 out of 5 based on 89 ratings.
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