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May 31, 2011 04:10 PM

Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont Center

I had noticed a new beer place on Leonard St in Belmont several times. Today I had an opportunity to stop in to Craft Beer Cellar. The narrow-but-deep store is well stocked with interesting beers and a few wines. The front 2/3 of the store is domestic-ish craft beers, including many 22oz options. They had things that I expected (e.g. Stone, Dog Fish Head, Victory, Anchor, off-beat Sam Adams, etc) and things that I didn't (Virgin Islands, Racer 5, many unfamiliar choices). I didn't have the time to look in the large cooler.

There are imported premium beers in the back, a large tasting table, and a small selection of wines.

I met two of the owners (Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow). Both were extremely nice ("Sorry it's so cold in here; it's good for the beer.") and helpful.

This is just the kind of place that a cool little area like Belmont Center needs. I plan to frequent them. In some ways, they are rather like The Boston Shaker in Davis Sq, Somerville -- fulfilling a niche not well served by other outlets, and providing expertise and friendly service.

I'm no beer geek, but I enjoy beer. A beer expert could probably give a more informed review. (I'm a cocktail geek.)
51 Leonard St, Belmont, MA

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The Boston Shaker
69 Holland Street, Somerville, MA

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  1. Yep, it's a nice place with nice people. The owners used to be GM and bev manager at Cambridge Common. My sense is that their prices can be 5-10% higher than somewhere like Liquor World in Porter (based on only a very small comparison), but if you're looking for good guidance and a more thorough selection, it's probably worth it.

    Many stores are carrying a very nice selections of beers, so unless you're looking for something specific, you might be able to find a lot of good beers closer to home, depending on where you live. A not-at-all comprehensive list would include stores like Liquor World (Porter), Downtown Wine and Spirits (Davis), Charles St Liquors (Beacon Hill), Marty's (Allston, Newton), Bauer (Newbury St), Kappy's (various), Yankee Spirits (Attleboro, Swansea), Redstone (Stoneham), and the big kahuna, Julio's (Westborough).

    Cambridge Common
    1667 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

    1. We stopped in last month and we liked the place and the owners, who were both at the register and making small talk with customers. Beyond just the eclectic beer selection (and I also picked up a nice rose), the option of making up your own mixed six packs is fantastic! A great chance to try a lot of different beers. We chatted with the owners and they both said that the town of Belmont has been great to them.

      8 Replies
      1. re: digga

        I feel like a kid on an Easter Egg hunt when I shop here. I love being able to to grab an empty sixpack to fill. I like the selection of West Coast beers that they have. And it seems like they have a large selection of craft beers in cans.

        1. re: viperlush

          The recent beer can movement is neat - rather like the upswing in boxed wines (the rationale is less heavy glass for trucks to cart around, so lower fuel costs). Hopefully more and more quality producers will jump on that bandwagon.

          1. re: digga

            Unfortunately many craft canners are jumping on the 16 oz 4 pack for the same price as a 6 pack bandwagon.

            1. re: LStaff

              That is only 8 oz less then a 12 oz 6 pack.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                A built in 12% price increase just from a packaging change. Where's the savings from lower fuel costs? ;-)

                If craft cans don't offer the same value as bottles, I have no motivation to buy them.

                1. re: LStaff

                  Being lighter isn't the only advantage of cans. Obviously they won't smash like bottles.

                  Also, brewers can fill cans higher to the brim than they can bottles which reduces the negative effects oxygen has on the beer. Light entering bottles is also a negative bottles have that cans don't.

                  With all that said, until they get rid of this BPA thing I'll only occasionally buy beer in cans.

                  1. re: Kinopio

                    And the biggest advantage of can's over bottles that I know is that you can bring cans to the beach and swimming pool.

                    1. re: Kinopio

                      I am aware of the technical advantages of canning vs. bottling, but a longer shelf life isn't really going to motivate a buyer like me that only buys dated beer (for styles that are greatly susceptible to oxygen effects like IPA, pale ales, pilsners) and refuses to buy these styles beyond 2-3 months old. Its not like an extra month or two of shelf life is going to get me to buy a 4 - 5 month old IPA or Pilsner.

        2. I am 1st: a beer geek, 2nd: a cocktail geek, 3rd: cheeseburgers and pizza.

          CBC just might be the best beer store in MA. They have so many odd ball beers that no other store carries in one place. Kate and Susanne have all the knowledge without the pretension. They just MCd a beer dinner across the street at Il Casale, the first beer dinner ever in the Arlington - Lexington - Belmont area, and it was completely packed.

          Rumor has it they'll be looking to open up a brew pub in Belmont if the town embraces their craft beer options.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Unfoodie

            That is very exciting (brew pub). I love this place--they are so incredibly helpful and willing to try to find you any beer you're searching for. I'd been drinking an oyster stout (not Harpoon, but from Dublin) at Townsend's in Hyde Park and I asked them if they could find it and... they did! They found someone who had one case available. I had previously gone to a bunch of liquor stores to no avail.

            They also turned me on to Wachusett Milk Stout, so I'm eternally grateful. I'm so glad they're doing so well.

            1. re: langley

              Try the Wachusett Nut Brown Ale if you get a chance.

            2. re: Unfoodie

              Popped in here over the weekend and came away with the same sentiments. The shop is impeccably clean, well-organized, conducive to browsing, none of that Market Casket kind of chaos. The selection is outstanding with many beers not typically seen on shelves about town. Friendly folks who know the craft fo sho. I didn't pay attention to prices across the board though. Would be good to see this thread develop with cost comparison datapoints.

              1. re: Nab

                I've never been, but am curious how it compares in price/selection to Bottles on Commercial St. in the North End/Waterfront,Bottles is also impeccably clean and well organized unlike its sister shop the Wild Duck.( which has good stuff as well)

            3. Picked up by Chow and promoted in today's e-mail blast:

              My my mini-review was the source for this blurb, I rather wish I had spent more time there fore a better take on the place.

     | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

              1. Hasn't it been there a while? I swear I went in this place last summer.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ella Bella

                  Nope, they opened in November of 2010.