Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >
Jan 13, 2010 05:42 PM

Stores for craft beer and nice wine?

Hey folks,

I'm new to PA and the licensing laws seem so odd. But when in Rome...! I don't know where to find good beer/wine.

I'm not looking for Pabst or Budweiser, but are there any places (between center city and the mainline) where they have an interesting selection of local or smaller breweries? Or a wine store where the staff know what they're talking about? The beer place I go to is just full of shift workers who couldn't care less about the product. I'm no snoot myself but just a recommendation on what's good in stock etc... would be nice

Pinot Noir on market looks good and I haven't been in yet but I'm guessing it'll be overpriced. Is there anywhere that's good and small but not too expensive? Many thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. All wine is sold by the PLCB in State Stores. Some stores are better than others. The only exception I know about is PA produced wine.

    Beer, on the other hand, you have a lot of options. I don't know about the Main Line but in Center City, Tthe Foodery (10th & Pine) has an outstanding selection sold by the bottle. There have a second and larger (at least in floor space) location in Northern Liberties (2nd & Poplar) where it might be easier to park if you are driving. Hawthorne's in Bella Vista (11th & Fitzwater) recently opened and also has a great bottle selection along with growlers. Across the street, their sister operation Bella Vista Beer Distributors has an excellent selection but by the case only. Also much easier to park down there than in CC proper.

    These bottle shops are not cheap, but the prices at the distributor seem fair. In my experience, the Foodery staff tends to be snooty but they are well informed if you can put up with it. Staff at Bella Vista is good; haven't been to Hawthorne's much to say.

    Many bodegas/delis/etc. in Center City have pretty good selection, too, but not worth the trip from the 'burbs.

    1. Just to clarify, Pinot on Market St. doesn't actually sell wine, only wine related products. As BarryG mentions, you can only get wine from a PLCB store which is total b.s. That's why I would recommend taking the short drive into DE. Total Wine in DE is my favorite, i could seriously spend all day in there. It's right off of 95 south, and if you drive fast like me - you can get there in 25 minutes. IMHO, well worth the trip, and don't forget there is no sales tax!

      I actually buy all of my beer at Total Wine also. They have a single bottle area, that is considerably cheaper than what you would pay at the Foodery or anywhere else in Philly. I currently have an entire bottom shelf of my refridgerator dedicated to all of the craft/micro-brew singles from Total Wine.

      whew...i sound like either a Total Wine rep, or an alcoholic :)

      3 Replies
      1. re: micreynolds

        Total Wine is so worth the trip, I drive to Delaware 3-4 times a year to stock up on spirits, beer and wine.

        1. re: discndav

          Hey thank you, I think I will just end up driving there. Is it:
          691 Naamans Road, Claymont, DE 19703-2309 (Total Wine & More) ?

          1. re: AgentRed

            That's it. Take 95 southbound to the 495 exit to Naaman's road. make a right at the ramp and you will see it on your right.

      2. where are you, exactly? there's a really good "craft beer wine outlet" in the far northeast, but I don't know if it's worth the travel.. I know they carry a ton... there's also a beer distributor in south philly I think on Oregon Avene that I hear has a ton. Also, if you ask many of the staff members @ monk's about their distributor, they'll talk for hours about it...

        So now I just wrote that and saw you said between philly and the main line... so I'm not as sure (but I'm going to stick with the two places I mentoned).. also the Foodery that BarryG mentioned is impressive.

        1. Just want to second most of what has been said here-- Total Wine in Delaware is JUST over the PA/DE State Line and their craft beer selection is pretty magnificent. In terms of distributors, Stone Beverage at 17th and Fairmount is pretty good also. Love the Foodery, but those bottle prices are difficult to stomach. Also, if you're in Center City, Latimer Deli just north of Spruce on 15th is pretty decent for bottles.

          Philly is an amazing town for beer, and not just Belgians. Enjoy yourself!

          1. Just to clarify, I believe there's still a risk if you're a PA resident and purchase liquor in DE to the extent you can be fined and have your liquor confiscated so check on it. That being said, I think the risk is low, especially if you wade further into DE rather than going to someplace right over the line.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Den

              Whaaaat! That's insane. What are the odds of this happening, I like micro brew at cheap prices but dislike getting busted by the fuzz

              1. re: AgentRed

                uh, chances are slim to NONE. i live in philly and drive to wilmington for clients several days a week, for the past 7 years. in all my years of going to total wine in DE, not ONCE have i ever heard of anyone getting fined, or busted. some people are just paranoid...

                1. re: AgentRed

                  yea basically, what you need to do is after buying whatever in delaware, if you're driving straight thru back to Pa, check that no cops have followed you. You clearly will have out of state tags, so if they see you coming right out of the liquor store and driving toward pennsy, they might follow you for an easy bust. but, it's really on no one's priority list so not much of a worry

                  1. re: AgentRed

                    I know of people who have been busted bringing cigarettes back from DE to PA. Granted, they did have a lot more than a carton or two.

                    Just saying that it does happen...

                    1. re: ShakenNotStirred

                      A few years ago there was a combined task force of PA and NJ police that were tracking motorists that went over Tacony Palmyra Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin solely to purchase liquor. So not only DE is a target. From the state's perspective you are not paying the taxes to the state where the product is going to be consumed. Can't wait for the day when the state doesnt own the liquor stores, and we have competitive prices and selection in PA so we don't have to even think about traveling to DE, NJ or MD for better selection and price. The day has to come, sooner or later.