The geographical designations were based on the James Beard Foundation.
Beer sales in America are at an interesting crossroads. With more than 9,000 breweries in operation, taprooms offer up an unrivaled location for customers to drink pints mere feet from where the beer was made. It’s as local as it gets.
Meanwhile, grocery stores are one of the largest sellers of packaged beer, giving shoppers a chance to stock up on lager and India pale ale along with milk, bread and eggs. The beer in those aisles, however, are often reserved for larger operations that can navigate the economy of scale and have distributor contracts.
There is still another retail option: the bottle shop, which is a term still widely used despite the majority of breweries offering their beers in cans these days. Depending on the state’s laws, some will only offer beer, while others will also offer wine and spirits.
For this list, Wine Enthusiast spoke with dozens of brewers, writers, social media enthusiasts, chefs and drinkers about what goes into creating a good bottle shop. Those represented here don’t always have the biggest selection or well-known beers, but offer curated options of seasonal and small-batch offerings. They often highlight brewers that self-distribute.
Staff is also critically important for a bottle shop. The best ones have knowledgeable folks who are passionate about beer and aren’t shy about promoting popular offerings, but also are advocates for unknown gems.
Great clerks can even help with suggested food pairings.
Buying beer shouldn’t be just a rushed errand or a matter of snagging souvenirs from a brewery visit. Taking time in a bottle shop, examining labels, thinking about styles and chatting with engaging associates leads to a better drinking experience at home or at your next party.
The Best Beer Shops in the South
“They’ve got a tap list curated by a great team that balances hype beers with classic style makers and rare releases from the hottest breweries that come to (and come from) Florida,” says Mark DeNote, author of The Great Florida Craft Beer Guide. “They have absolutely maximized their tiny space with an on-premises establishment that doubles as a growler bar, along with an eclectic bottle selection that doubles as wall art. Finish it all off with a locker club that rivals any wine club and you’ve got 99 Bottles.”
St. Petersburg, Florida
“This woman-owned shop has created an anchor in the community for beer lovers,” says Wayne Millard, founder of the Beer Label Society. “Ask anyone in the beer scene in Florida and they will know them and their business. Their marketing, selection and events make them stand out in a crowded field.”
“Hop City also has locations in Atlanta and Fayetteville, but I’m partial to the Birmingham location, because it’s an oasis for serious consumers in a state where craft beer doesn’t have a huge presence yet,” says Nolan Strals, an illustrator and artist who has designed for breweries. “The bar at the Birmingham location is also a lively community hub for fans and the region’s craft brewers as well.”
“Stein’s Deli was the first real craft place in New Orleans,” says Polly Watts, former owner of the Avenue Pub. “People give me credit for starting everything here but none of that would have happened without [owner] Dan Stein. Add in the amazing food and the great collection of sour beers and European craft beer, Stein’s has it all.”
The Best Beer Shops in the Southwest, Southeast and Texas
“Filling Station is a place dedicated to supporting the independent breweries who consistently make the Tennessee beer scene shine with world class draft and package offerings,” says Brandon Jones, brewer at Embrace the Funk in Tennessee. “A rotation of libations make for a fun stop any day of the week.”
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“By keeping up good relationships with distributors and producers, this gem of a store always has something new and interesting in stock as well as familiar favorites that will suit any occasion or mood,” says John Holl, Wine Enthusiast writer at large and beer reviewer.
“Founded in 1937 on Ponce de Leon Avenue, it’s a warehouse-style space that stocks beer, wine and liquor at competitive prices,” says Bob Townsend, a food, dining and beer writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Beer buyer Adam Tolsma has been a crusader for craft and keeps the good stuff coming.”
Charlotte, North Carolina
“Jason and Dairelyn Glunt have created a space in the North Davidson neighborhood of Charlotte that not only celebrates beer but also cultivates an inclusive community around beer,” says Jen Blair, Advanced Cicerone and blogger at Under the Jenfluence. “The selection is thoughtfully curated and allows customers to discover new beers or revisit beloved classics.”
Eugenia Brown, founder of Beer Chick LLC also advocates for Salud.
“There is just something about the vibes, the way it feels like everyone is welcomed, that just makes you feel at home there,” she says. “Pair that with the fact the food is amazing and they play old-school hip hop, it really just feels like a safe haven for a person of color that wants to enjoy beer.”
Durham, North Carolina
“I have re-routed drives through North Carolina to stop at Sam’s,” says Strals. “The original gas station Sam’s was charming, a world-class beer selection tucked into a grimy old building. They moved into a new building a few years ago that has a bar and outdoor deck seating on the second story.” All the locals say it’s the best store in the entire beer-loving state, he adds.
“Beyond stocking the best of the South, they have a shockingly great cider selection of small brands I’ve not seen elsewhere [and] all the national heavy hitters,” Strals continues. “But they always have bottles that make me say ‘I didn’t know you could get this on the East Coast.’ My first stop there I spent almost $200—about $50 of it on one bottle of every TRVE beer they had.”
“Located 50 miles south of Nashville on the historic town square in Columbia, Taps Off Main does yeoman’s work through its advocacy of Tennessee beer and regional breweries,” says Matty Hargrove, regional sales manager of Blackberry Farm Brewery in Tennessee. “Owner Will Hoelscher’s inspired dedication to providing exceptional selection and service in a primarily rural market is a true wonder.”
San Antonio, Texas
“This was one of the first bottle shops I discovered when I first moved to Texas and they have stood the test of time,” says Marcus Baskerville, brewer at Weathered Souls Brewing Company in San Antonio. “Good selections of bottles and draft accounts and they also serve some amazing Indian food as well.”
Best Beer Shops in The Great Lakes
“While there are a lot of great beer shops in Chicago, Beermiscuous is unique because everything is offered in single bottles or cans,” says Mike Zoller, editor at PorchDrinking.com. “With so many beers coming out every week, if you want to be able to try more of them without committing to a full four- or six-pack, Beermiscuous is the best spot. The other nice thing is you can either take [a beer] to go, or they’ll open it up for you and you can drink there.”
“It is conveniently located on a triangular intersection with [streets] N California and W Belmont, so numerous bus lines will get you there,” says Woody Chandler, known as “The Beer Monk.”
“They not only boast a well-stocked bottle shop (with cans!), but they have a 20-tap taproom for on-premise consumption. Be sure to join their loyalty program.”
Between the 17 taps that are available for growler fills and extensive beer and wine offerings, there is something for everyone, according to Brett Smith, founder and head brewer of Branch and Bone Artisan Ales in Ohio. Plus, with 5oz pours available and comfortable seating, it’s a shop that encourages you to stick around for a while.
“In the Broad Ripple section of the city, this well-established shop has long carried a great selection of Hoosier beers along with selections that surprise and delight even the most hardened of beer fans,” says Holl.
Tinley Park, Illinois
“An amazing, top notch bottle shop owned by an even more amazing couple, Patrick and Julie Bisch,” says Alex Lovinggood, host of The Maker in Me Podcast. “From the start they have always done good events and curated a stellar beer list. They carry a lot of Chicago beer and a well thought out import list. They have 12 draft lines and make sure that they are always great beers. They clean their lines [every two weeks] and make sure to mark on the menu when the lines were cleaned and by whom. Most Chicago breweries use them as the jump off for their south Chicago releases.”
The Best Beer Shops in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and New York
Alphabet City Beer Co., Manhattan, and Covenhoven, Brooklyn
I love checking out the selections at Covenhoven and Alphabet City Beer Co.,” says Heather McReynolds, northeast sales manager for Hopsteiner.
“Not only do they stock some of the best beer locally, nationally and globally, but more importantly, they’re owned and operated by really great folks. The staff at both are all genuinely nice beer people with zero pretension who just want to connect you to a beer you’ll love. Bonus: Both spots are bars as well, so you can enjoy that selection the moment you lay eyes on it.”
Buffalo, New York
“Buffalo’s beer geekery have many choices when it comes to bottle shops, but none have the panache of The Beer Keep,” says Ethan Cox, author and co-founder of Community Beer Works. “Located in the heart of the funky, artsy Elmwood Village neighborhood and set between a burrito bar and a live music oasis, The Beer Keep offers up a thoughtful draft list for on-premise consumption (including always a lager pouring through the Lukr tap). Add that to a well-rounded selection of cans and bottles, which can also be sipped on-site or taken to-go, and a small but well-apportioned kitchen.
The Beer Keep often stocks beers not otherwise seen in the market, especially from downstate New York breweries such as Suarez, Plan B and Hudson Valley Brewing, but doesn’t fail the seekers of seltzer, cider, or other alternative beverages. Stop in whenever they’re having an event for extra fun—game days, DJ sets, costume-party dance-offs; you name it. The Beer Keep serves up great vibes as well as outstanding beer.”
Providence, Rhode Island
“They are a small shop on the East side, and I often stop by to pick up our orders on my way into work,” says Pereira. “They have a diverse and very hands-on staff who are always willing to help, including many Johnson & Wales University beverage students and alumni. And their selection is always top notch. They don’t stock mountains of 30-racks and Franzia, and they are the first ones to look for locally made and uniquely crafted products. They have a great selection of small-batch spirits and specialties like saké, soju and makgeolli. If you are looking for something unique, they will go out of their way to get it for you. It’s the perfect place to find an off-the-wall gift for the beer, wine, cider, mead, spirits [or]anything with-alcohol person on your list. They also have a great selection of hand-crafted bitters, mixers and sodas. But the people there are amazing.”
“I like Beer Witch because they tend to cycle through the latest and greatest new beers while also stocking a wide variety of styles,” says Justin Kennedy, writer, author and executive producer of podcast Steal This Beer. “The way the beers are organized is nice, too—everything’s inside fridges that are labeled with easily legible categories across the top. Some are organized by alcohol by volume (ABV) while others are delineated by style. They also do a great job stocking imported beers, which isn’t always the case with beer shops these days. The staff is always super helpful, too, and can provide guidance if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for.”
“New England is known for having small, family-run package (liquor) store operations and one of the best is undoubtedly Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, Massachusetts,” says Andy Crouch, publisher of All About Beer.
“It’s run by two passionate, knowledgeable beer lovers who have smartly curated a big selection of craft and flavorful beers from around the world. They also recently opened a subterranean beer restaurant next to their shop where you can have a beer.”
“It’s a little shop that punches above its weight for such a small space,” says Chris O’Leary, editor of Brew York. “They’re both a functional beer shop for drinkers of all types, but they’re also a beer geek’s paradise. Visitors are regularly treated to tappings from local and hyped-up brewers, but West Village locals pop in to grab 12-packs from larger craft brewers on the regular. It’s a beer shop that tries to be everything to everyone and somehow succeeds.”
East Norrington, Pennsylvania
“Capone’s is obsessive, completist and relentlessly egalitarian in their efforts to get great beer to as many people as possible,” says Lew Bryson, author and drinks writer.
“The owner, Erika Goedrich, makes this shop special,” says Sarah Jane Curran, senior beverage manager of global, U.S. and Canada branches of Marriott International. “She has a wonderful selection of local brews, international classics, special release/rarer beers from around the U.S. and other fun fermentables like mead and cider. She is very knowledgeable and her beer guidance is always considerate. The shop has fun tastings and sponsors events, both virtual and in-person. I know I can always get my favorites and try something new. It’s right on H Street in D.C., but the bustle melts away as soon as you step into the calm that is the well-organized, Craft Beer Cellar.”
Brewster, New York
“It may sound weird to include a grocery store, but DeCicco & Sons isn’t a normal grocery store,” says Max Finnance, Master Cicerone and senior manager in education and training for Artisanal Brewing Ventures in North Carolina. “I originally fell in love with the beer selection at their Brewster, New York location, but every location I’ve been to since has continued to impress. From doors and doors of local craft options to a plethora of hard-to-find imports like Coniston Bluebird Bitter and Drie Fonteinen, DeCicco’s is a no-brainer.”
Mamaroneck, New York
“DeCicco’s grocery stores in the lower Hudson Valley really do a great job with their beer programs. [They have a ] great selection and they have in store bars with a lot of great stuff on tap,” says Hutch Kugeman, brewer and beer instructor at the Culinary Institute of America. “But the king of beer stores is probably Half-Time Beverage. They have two locations with a huge selection of in state, national craft and imports. They also do a lot of interstate beer shipping.”
Jersey City, New Jersey
“Owner Kendall Alvarez Eskew has created a small but terrific bottle shop with a good wine section, too,” says Holl. “Plus, it serves as a homebrew supply store. It’s helped foster a better beer vibe in Jersey City since opening a few years ago.”
Queens, New York
“When my boyfriend and I first walked by Nemo’s, we stopped short and nearly in unison exclaimed ‘We finally have a beer spot!’ Opened in March of 2022, this bottle shop-bar hybrid has quickly become a community staple,” says Kristen Richard, digital editor at Wine Enthusiast. “The eight taps exclusively pour selections from New York’s five boroughs. In the refrigerator you’ll find over 200 options meticulously organized by lagers, IPAs, wheat beers, saisons, sours, dark beers, ciders, ginger beers and canned wine, which you can open there or take to go. Along with an extensive beer selection, there’s also plenty of nonalcoholic options and even a rotating list of meads from North Carolina.
Owner Andrew Bronstein will likely be behind the bar and can talk about any of the selections at length and give recommendations based on what you like. Nemo’s is the perfect place to pick up something after work, wind down on a Friday and is a welcoming environment for beer aficionados and casual drinkers alike.”
Narrowsburg, New York
“There’s a fantastic selection picked by Julia and Joan Santo. They will walk you through the beers and are always offering amazing pairings of both local dishes and abroad,” says Josh Tompson, the creative culinary director at the Lodge at Woodloch in Pennsylvania. “They take the time to learn your palate and then make a suggestion that is going to blow your mind.”
“Located in the bustling Old Port of Portland, Maine, the Portland Beer Hub is a bottle shop with a unique feature: the ability to order and drink beer on the premises,” says Carla Lauter, a freelance beer writer. “A selection of the latest new releases are always on tap, and the curated selection of cans and bottles highlight the freshest and most interesting that the local beer scene has to offer. Personalized recommendations and guided tastings from enthusiastic staff help visitors to home in on what they’d like to try, and the commitment to freshness—and keeping all the beers cold—sets them apart from other shops.”
“It has a small and well-curated selection, knowledgeable staff and is super supportive of all the small breweries in the area,” says Mariah Draper Calagione, co-founder of Dogfish Head in Delaware. “It’s also close to the Dogfish Inn, so lots of our beer-loving guests go there!”
Swansea, Sturbridge and Attleboro, Massachusetts
“One of the things I do love about the place is that, once in a blue moon (the lunar phenomenon, not the MolsonCoor’s owned witbier), they sell Russian Roulette cases. For a geek like me, these are incredibly fun,” says Jennifer Pereira, associate professor at Johnson & Wales University. “They essentially take random single bottles from their beer selection, seal them into plain brown cases, and sell them as a mystery case for $18.99 plus deposit. I have gotten everything in them from Gulden Draak Belgian ale and Southern Tier’s ‘Rum King’ to Labatt’s Blue Light with Lime. When they put them out, they get snatched up fast. But it’s a great way to try new things and to always have variety on hand.”
The Best Beer Shops in the Midwest
Des Moines, Iowa
“The Cheese Shop of Des Moines, and their sister restaurant The Cheese Bar of Des Moines, have been catering to craft for years—craft cheeses, craft beer and craft wine,” says Kelsey Seay, a beer enthusiast and photographer. “They offer dine in and cut to order as well as operating like a bottle shop for wine and beer. It’s a tiny but mighty beer selection, picked for pairing and interest.”
“This is the combining of The Growler, which sold brewery merchandise from all over the state, and The Beer Dabbler, which had a magazine for a while and is running a lot of the larger beer festivals in Minnesota for years,” says brewer Jon Lang. “Now they opened the Dabbler Depot. When owner Matt Kenevan does something he goes to the ninth degree. They have a great selection and a specialist in each department to help guide the customer.”
Best Beer Shops in the Northwest Pacific and California
“With two dozen taps and more than 700 bottled and canned offerings, this combination bottle shop and restaurant is family friendly, and can even point you in the direction of some great saké or wine selections,” says Holl.
“I’m lucky to be near Portland where we have several awesome bottle shops that any beer lover would appreciate,” says Lisa Allen, head brewer at Heater Allen in Oregon. “However, I live in the Willamette Valley, and we have some great bottle shops out here that are often overlooked because they aren’t in the ‘big city.’ My local McMinnville spot, The Bitter Monk, is a beer bar that also carries a great variety of cans and bottles. For a small town it’s a great spot to grab a couple of pints and some beer to go. The Monk doesn’t have a ton of space, but they do a great job of curating a variety of different styles that are both interesting and popular. And while they concentrate on carrying beer from breweries in the Northwest you can find some great classic bottles and cans.”
San Diego, California
“The Bottlecraft empire’s origins trace back to a combination bar and bottle-shop in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood,” says Brandon Hernández, founder and executive editor of San Diego Beer News. “That ahead-of-its-time venue won a fast following behind uber-knowledgable staffers hand-selected by beer-geek founder Brian Jensen. Over a decade later, Bottlecraft’s selection (which includes wines, spirits and alternative alcoholic beverages), reputation and patronage have grown in kind with its reach. In addition to the business’s quartet of San Diego County locations (Little Italy, North Park, Point Loma and Oceanside), it also sports sudsy outposts in Long Beach and San Luis Obispo.”
“This shop not only has a great in-person selection of local and international beers, but it also has a great website to browse selections and to pre-order online for pickup,” says Josh Hake, a beer enthusiast.
“Like most better beer stores in California, they also operate a tap room, in addition to selling bottles and cans,” says Jay R. Brooks, freelance beer writer and author. “City Beer Store also holds a distributor license, which allows them to bring in beers no one else is carrying. During the pandemic, they stepped up their online game and now offer many more beers than they can stock in person, but order ahead of time and they’ll all be waiting for you.”
“This long-running shop has a rabid following of dedicated customers who love the rotating taps of Californian craft beer and the hundreds of cans and bottles from brewers in the craft beer space. Part shop, part bar, all good,” says Holl.
Belmont Station, Portland, Oregon, and John’s Market Place, Portland, Oregon
“Belmont station is a beloved bottle shop and beer bar in Portland,” says Natalie Rose Baldwin, research and development brewer at Breakside Brewery, which has multiple locations in Oregon. “They have always been known for an elevated selection of regionally specific packed beer as well as sought after brands and some quirky special finds.”
“John’s Market Place is more well known for their impressively curated bottle shop,” says Baldwin. They have everything. Recently [they] opened a newer location off of Powell [Street]and it is the place to find most things your heart desires.”
Costa Mesa, California
“I spend all of my money at Windsor Homebrew Supply & Bottle Shop these days,” says Greg Nagel, of the OCBeerBlog. “The selection isn’t huge, but more of a fast-rotating list of not only some of California’s best breweries from San Diego, Orange County and L.A., all the way up to the Russian River Valley. Because it’s a homebrew shop, they also stock fresh European examples, everything from basic bitters to rare Cantillon that can be cracked open on site and poured out of a lambic basket. They also have a tasting room with an eclectic draft list, plus they have a great little selection of natural wines to explore.”
The Best Beer Shops in the Mountain States
“A visit to Mr. B’s Wine & Spirits is a can’t-miss proposition since owners Scott and Jared Blauweiss keep a large but carefully curated selection of beers ranging from top-notch local offerings to rarities from around the country and imports from Belgium, Germany and elsewhere,” says Jonathan Shikes, beer reporter at the Denver Post. “The brothers and their staff are beer geeks, just like you, but they take the time with both novices and experts to ask about what they like and what they are looking for. And if they don’t have what you came for, you’ll likely end up going home with something new and exciting to try anyway.”
“We’re pretty spoiled here in Bozeman to have SHINE Beer Sanctuary in town, which keeps an amazing curated selection both in their bottle shop and on their taps,” says Loy Maierhauser, an administrator at MAP Brewing Company and an Advanced Cicerone. “SHINE’s owners, Travis and Julie Collins, are dedicated to strengthening the craft beer culture in Montana, and they have worked tirelessly to expand the brands and styles available in the state. They curate both the bottle shop and the tap list in a way that balances showcasing local Montana beer, while also providing many unique regional and imported offerings. Although they’ve only been around for three years, SHINE has had a noticeable impact on the beer scene not just in Bozeman, but across the state of Montana.”