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best places to buy beer in cambridge/sommerville

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stephaniet Oct 14, 2006 07:23 PM

I recently moved to Cambridge and am trying to find places with good beer selections. Thus far I've found A-Wines (or something like that ) on Cambridge St in Inman Square, which has an okay selection, but I'm wondering what else is in the area. Not looking for anything in particular, just a good selection of American Microbrews (along the likes of Rogue, Allagash, Lagunitas...), Germans, Belgians....A knowledgable staff would be great too.

I have no car, so the closer to Kendall Sq. the better. Boston would be okay if it were right on the other side of the Mass Ave bridge. Thanks!

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  1. d
    DoubleMan Oct 14, 2006 08:31 PM

    I absolutely love Downtown Wine and Spirits in Davis Square, their beer selection is unparalleled on this side of the river. Also, the liquor store on Charles St. has one of the largest beer selections in the country. Other than those shops, Boston is pretty weak int he beer department.

    10 Replies
    1. re: DoubleMan
      f
      fenian Oct 14, 2006 09:06 PM

      Agreed on Downtown Liquors--even better than A-Wines (which is pretty good). This shop has all (or very nearly all) the Trappist beers except Westvleteren, as well as St. Bernardus 12 and tripel, etc. Lots of good stuff. Another to try, not as good as Downtown Wine and Spirits, but which may be convenient, is the Wine and Cheese Cask at the intersection of Kirkland and Beacon (half a mile up from Inman Square).

      You may also want to check this site: http://www.ratebeer.com/Places/ShowTours.asp . It's sort of annoying, because you have to do separate searches for Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. Nevertheless, it is a useful guide to beer in the Boston area. Also http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/3 .

      1. re: fenian
        Sgt Snackers Oct 17, 2006 01:18 AM

        Since you brought it up, is there any place to get Westvleteren in Boston (or even, outside of Belgium???)

        1. re: Sgt Snackers
          d
          DoubleMan Oct 17, 2006 01:34 AM

          I read an article about it. They do not have any formal importing. One can only get the beer at the monastery/brewery. Some people take it back and sell it, which isn't illegal just seriously frowned upon by the monks.

          1. re: Sgt Snackers
            m
            mkel34 Oct 17, 2006 05:42 PM

            On the web they can be found at shop.belgianshop.com or ebay. Be prepared to pay $20+ a bottle with shipping.

            1. re: mkel34
              Sgt Snackers Oct 18, 2006 01:45 AM

              Oh boy. I wish you hadn't pointed me at that - I am so tempted to drop the $20 for 33cl of this stuff.

              1. re: Sgt Snackers
                f
                fenian Oct 18, 2006 04:06 AM

                Compared with wines, that's not a bad deal. Many people consider Westvleteren 12 the very best beer in the world.

            2. re: Sgt Snackers
              f
              fenian Oct 17, 2006 05:50 PM

              Not that I know of. Outside of Belgium, I've bought it from stores in several states (though not recently).

              1. re: fenian
                d
                DoubleMan Oct 17, 2006 05:53 PM

                Here's an article.

                http://beeradvocate.com/news/stories_...

          2. re: DoubleMan
            PaulB Oct 15, 2006 12:53 PM

            There are a few other great beer shops: Bauer Wines on upper Newbury st just over bridge and Wine Gallery in Kenmore Sq.and Rt 9 come to mind. IMO Boston is certainly not weak in the beer department as we get a huge number of US and foreign brands. Downtown is great but be wary of old stock unless it is a style that ages well. Liquor store in Porter Sq. supermarket mall has some surprises for US micros. The links to ratebeer.com and beeradvocate.com are excellent info.

            1. re: PaulB
              nfo Oct 15, 2006 02:32 PM

              A plus for Downtown is that it's right on the Red Line (I believe Charles St is as well). I think the turnover on American micros is high enough that I've never had a problem with freshness. The Belgian stuff is sturdy enough that it's hard to ruin. I'd be wary of German/Czech styles, since they tend to be more vulnerable and I don't see people buy as much.

          3. enhF94 Oct 14, 2006 09:08 PM

            Yep. Downtown is the only way to go. Particularly the guy with the very long goatee.

            1. c
              Craig K Oct 14, 2006 09:19 PM

              You can also try Cardullo's in Harvard. It's definitely overpriced, but carries some interesting beers, especially of the Polish variety.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Craig K
                Ernie Diamond Oct 16, 2006 04:11 PM

                Skip Cardullo's. Nothing there that can't be found cheaper at Downtown.

                1. re: Ernie Diamond
                  s
                  Stiv Oct 16, 2006 11:48 PM

                  Agreed. I don't understand the press that Cardullo's beer selection gets - it is very mediocre and also overpriced. The only thing it has going for it that I can tell is that it is the only place to buy beer in Harvard Sq.

              2. k
                katzzz Oct 15, 2006 02:52 PM

                Boston is NOT weak in the beer dep't -- there are many stores with excellent beer selections, but you won't find one place that has everything. Marty's in Brighton and Newton is close to spectacular and probably has the most extensive selection in the area (if it doesn't, please tell me who does!). Wine & Cheese Cask in Somerville has a somewhat small but very good stock of beers. More to choose from at Fresh Pond liquor store next to Whole Foods in the Fresh Pond Mall. Martignetti on Soldiers Field Rd and other locations has lots of good stuff. And there are many small neighborshood liquor stores where you can find amazing beers -- there's one on Broadway in Ball Sq. near Sound Bytes, don't recall the name, but they've got some killer brews. As for the original question, I don't know of any great beer buying spots near Kendall Square, but I find poking my head into whatever liquor store I'm around is worthwhile: sometimes you strike out and there's nothing more interesting than the ubiquitous Sam Adams, but sometimes the most unlikely locations have an intriguing beer you never came across before. The hunt is part of the fun.

                1. s
                  Stiv Oct 15, 2006 02:57 PM

                  Agreed, best shop easily accessible to you is Downtown in Davis Sq.

                  Charles St. Liquors (Charles St, Beacon Hill) is also quite good, especially excellent on the Belgian selections.

                  Not especially close to you, but these stores give Downtown competition for the best beer selection in the Boston area:

                  Colonial Spirits (in Acton)
                  Martys (two locations: Newton and Allston)

                  1. z
                    zebedee Oct 16, 2006 12:52 AM

                    I've been using the Wine and Cheese Cask every week for the past 10 years, and I have very few complaints. Sometimes you have to go to a place with a bigger selection, just to mix things up.

                    1. bitsubeats Oct 16, 2006 03:40 PM

                      downtown liquors is your best option in the cambridge/somerville area

                      if you have a car, and don't mind travelling out of the way there is an awesome liquor store in rockland that has the biggest selection of microbrews/international beers I have seen in the surrounding area. Unfortunately I forget the name ):

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: bitsubeats
                        itaunas Oct 16, 2006 07:21 PM

                        In Rockland (MA) you are talking about the "Wine outlet" or something like that next to the large church, a bit further up from Ocean State Job lot? They have some interesting portuguese (touriga nacional rose) and spanish wines (inexpensive Ribera del Duero). They do have some more uncommon european beers, but what kinds of special microbrews did you see there?

                        Some additional comments close to Kendall. You definately should try a growler from the CBC. On Cambridge St 660 liquors is worth a look for portuguese wines, brazilian, portugese, and cabo verdean spirits. Also SavMor on McGrath has a pretty complete collection of certain microbrews -- all the Victory offerings, more complete rouge. Their prices on those are not that special, but they do have some good bargains on european imports -- usually fresh, but your mileage may vary. Their wine prices are generally inflated, but they have good quality 5L "garrafao" bottles of portuguese vinho verde and red wine, as well as slightly better cachaca prices than 660. (Others have panned SavMor, but it does have a few unique qualities.)

                        While at downtown don't forget to check the tap selection at Redbones and its also worth a peek at Atwood Tavern next time you head down Cambridge St.

                        1. re: itaunas
                          m
                          mkel34 Oct 16, 2006 11:12 PM

                          The Rockland store is Luke's Liquors. It is very large, large being equivilant to your average grocery store. The beer mgr left last year and they are still trying to get things going. As for the beer you must check the dates here if you are buying something that needs to be fresh(ipa) but if you are looking for a Russian Imperial Stout you'll be in luck, last time I was there they have every Newport Storm yearly release and Brooklyn Chocolate stout going back 2-3 years.

                          1. re: itaunas
                            bitsubeats Oct 18, 2006 02:30 AM

                            it is huge and located next to a humongous church that I believe used to be a k-mart..hence why my boyfriend always calls it "k-mart church"

                            it doesn't sound like it would be called luke's liquors or wine outlet.

                            anyways, if I can find a place that sells founder's breakfast stout I will be a very happy woman. I have only seen it at bauer wine & spirts and they only carried a few packs of it ):

                        2. MaineRed Oct 16, 2006 04:17 PM

                          Downtown is the only way to go but recently i've found a great selection at the liquor store in the Porter Sqr. mall too -- specifically Berkshire Brewing Co. 22oz bombers.

                          Make sure you head over to Cambridge Brewing Co. (www.cambrew.com) for growlers to go!

                          1. a l i c e Oct 18, 2006 03:23 AM

                            Downtown is undoubtedly our go-to place for beer (not for wine), but we also like the beer store in Ball Square, which is a pain in the ass without a car, but fairly close to Davis if you restrict yourself to only a 6 pack. Prices are good, selection is not as wide as Downtown, but owners are friendly and it's fun walking into the walk-in cooler and helping yourself to whatever you want. Nice range of locals brews.

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