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Jun 30, 2011 11:22 AM

Which LCBO has the best beer selection?

Any suggestions for which LCBOs would be the best to check out for interesting beers?

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  1. i'll venture in even though as it is the LCBO there are only minor differences in product carried between stores of similar sizing. some minor differences will be due to neighborhood.

    Summerhill and Queen's Quay come to a search for beer on and then see which stores carry the products you are interested in and hopefully-it'll be a store near you.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ingloriouseater

      I will vote on Queens Quay as well.. I haven't been to all the lcbo's around town but I find this one is always the best bet for pre-party stock up.

      1. re: ingloriouseater

        In the north end of town, I've found the best range of beer can be found at the LCBO store in a big-box plaza on Wilson Ave. just east of Dufferin St. There's an entire large, separate, enclosed and refrigerated section at the back of the store devoted to beer (and coolers). I've found just about every local and imported beer carried by the LCBO and that I'm looking for, no matter how obscure, carried in that store. Interestingly, the wine and liquor selection in the rest of the store isn't up to much. Beer is clearly the draw there.

        1. re: ingloriouseater

          I heard from a beer rep for a micro brewery that the managers of each store have some discretion as to which beers they want to bring in. I was trying to find his particular micro and suggested asking the manager of my local store because if they get enough requests they are often willing to give the beer a try.

          This strategy is much better for micro brews than working with the beer store that has apparently very expensive listing costs to sell the beers.

        2. Depends on the area, usually it's associated with median income of a neighbourhood. Rich bourgie areas w/ more white upper middle class = better selection.

          The 3 big ones in metro are Queens Quay, Bayview Village, and Summerhill.

          As for downtown, best beer can be found at Bay & Bloor (Manulife), King & Spadina, St Lawrence Market, Liberty Village.

          A notch down but still decent would be places like Spadina (Chinatown), Parkdale (Queen & Brock).

          These are stores that will get your dose of seasonal releases. Right now the best stuff out are Southern Tier 2xipa and Dominus Vobiscum Blanche.

          Best tip? Know what you're looking for and use the inventory feature of lcbo's website before you go.

          3 Replies
          1. re: aser

            Liberty Village and Queen and Brock both suck for beer selections, empty or sparse shelves more often than not..

            1. re: ingloriouseater

              Kingsway often has a pretty good selection - I would consider as big/diverse as some of the others for many products eg Summerhill.

              1. re: DDD

                There's Peter at Cloverdale to offer good beer service. Maybe he does the ordering.

          2. In the east end, the store at Queen St E and Coxwell has a great selection. Lots of micros.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jed Clampet

              Oh yeah, and just a stones throw east of Burger's Priest.

            2. Surprisingly, the LCBO in the plaza at Lawrence E. and Morningside (Scarberia) has a REALLY good beer selection. As Juno mentioned about another location it has the whole enclosed, refrigerated beer "room" with a great selection of domestic and imported.

              1. For the record, usually the best beers/seasonal releases aren't in the refridgerated section. It's in a regular shelf along w/ the wines. I judge a store's stock on these shelves, never the fridge.

                The fridge is reserved for regular release products with high sales history.

                5 Replies
                1. re: aser

                  That's certainly not the case with the LCBO's beer room at its Wilson and Dufferin location. The room, which is probably best described as "cool" rather than "refrigerated", has, understandably, the standard-issue regular release big-sellers, but also a substantial number of unusual imports and the products of many, many local boutique breweries. Indeed, its beer selection is far better than that of the larger, fancier Bayview Village LCBO, to the east at Sheppard and Bayview, where I go for wine and spirits. If I can't find a beer I want at Bayview Village, I'll invariably find find it at Wilson and Dufferin.

                  1. re: juno

                    Bayview Village gets all seasonal releases and brewery features. But just because they get it doesn't mean it'll be there a month after release. Beer nerds are driving all over town scooping this stuff up, just like wine collectors. That's exactly why you haven't seen much, because it is a guaranteed source for these releases. Queens Quay and Summerhill suffer from the same problem, you need to go early to get yours.

                    The problem is not the store itself only, it's LCBO's infrastructure. A lot of beers arrive in such small quantities they're in stores for less than a week, even a day. Recent example of that is Rogue Double Dead Guy. Sold out in 1 day, bulk of it bought for sure by the craft bar owners in Toronto.

                    Unfortunately LCBO has too many retail outlets to feed, they require huge inventory from their suppliers. Some of these micros just don't make enough to keep up w/ LCBO's demands. Certainly no chance of a re-stock, it's a one shot deal.

                    Some of the suburban shops do have great inventory. Again, they get similar amounts to stores downtown but there is less of a collector frenzy than downtown micro drinkers. Hence stock lasts much longer on shelves.. Which is what you're seeing at Dufferin/Wilson. There could also be a beer nerd on staff there, which is a good thing.

                    Yonge & Hwy 7, Warden & hwy 7 are great locations up north for seasonal releases.

                    1. re: aser

                      Well, that makes sense, aser. I'm clearly not enough of a beer nerd to get to my local LCBO at Bayview Village before the true beer nerds descend - and clean out all newly-released specialty stock before I casually turn up a week or two later in search of something the cognoscenti have advised me is good. All of which forces me to travel slightly farther afield, to the LCBO near Wilson and Dufferin, where I'm more likely to find what I want because the stock has yet to be raided by ruthless beer aficionados. Alas, when word of the seasonal beer treasures still to be found at the Wilson-Dufferin emporium gets around, I'll probably strike out there as well. Because I can't see myself driving all over town for a bottle or two of some fancy beer. I'll leave that to the obsessive beer buffs, who deserve the prizes that assiduous awareness to beer releases affords them.

                      Note: the Wilson-Dufferin LCBO outlet is also a pretty good place to pick up the odd recommended Vintages-release wine that gets cleaned out within a day at Bayview Village, but lies around Wilson-Dufferin for weeks.

                      1. re: juno

                        I haven't been too impressed w/ the specialty beer selection at Bayview Village, and I go often on the Vintages release saturdays with a stroll thru the beer section on my way out.

                        I've actually found better beer selection at Lawrence and Don Mills location (on my way to pickup my son from school). My son is always asking why dad is late picking him up. A couple weeks back I decided to grab a whole bunch of specialty beers for my buddy's birthday gift, and bought most of my stuff from them (went to both LCBO locations).

                        I haven't been to the wilson-dufferin location yet.

                  2. re: aser

                    Agree with aser on this and the practice of checking the BIG LIST for what's where among the Boards. Apart from being ultimately personal, "best" also shifts as inventory changes. New items, especially low volume crafts and offbeat imports, rarely get wide releases; sometimes, they can also be directed to out-of-the-way stores which happens often in the western GTA and outlying communities. I've picked up some mis-directed items that way that were in short supply in the GTA proper.