Starting this Thursday, you'll be able to fill up growlers of your favorite craft beer on draft at most of your favorite craft beer destinations but you're still going to need your trusty liquor stores to pick up beautiful bottles (and cans) of your favorite local and national specialty beers.
Good thing we have several places across town that stock the best of the best of craft beer bottles. And, of course, we have our favorites. Check out our top ten picks.
Wedge & Bottle -- The cheese may come first at this Ahwatukee specialty shop but owners Krista and Troy Daily have also made room for a few well stocked shelves of craft beer. The rotating selection of imported Belgium wits and English ales mingle with cans from Chandler's SanTan Brewing, Colorado favorites Oskar Blues, and bottles from Alaskan Brewing and Firestone Walker. They may not have the biggest selection in town, but the quality of what they do stock can't be beat. Plus, they'll help you pair your bottles with the proper cheese!
Sportsman's Fine Wines & Spirits -- Before Sportsman's was Phoenix's one-stop wine shop, the store was a grab-and-go beer store so it's no surprise that this upscale liquor shop carries a selection of beers that almost rivals their wine supply. Here you'll find everything from the full line of brews from Utah's Epic Brewing to imports from St. Bernardus and Duvel. Sportsman's also hosts monthly beer tastings. Keep an eye on their website to see which brewer will be in the tasting room next.
Magnum's Cigar Lounge -- If you're in North Phoenix and get a hankering for a nice cold Delirium Tremens or a six-pack of Left Hand's Milk Stout Nitro, then stop by this cigar lounge to get your fix. The lounge/liquor shop stocks six coolers full of well selected craft and import beers. Take your selection home or enjoy it with a nice cigar right there.
Sun Stop Liquors -- This liquor shop may be a mecca for college kids to stock up on cheap 30 packs of Coors Light and Fruit Loop vodka but the back wall of the small store is chock full of six-packs and bombers from Dogfish Head, Stone, Lagunitas, and Tap It. The store owner and staff are incredibly friendly and though they may not be craft beer experts, they'll always tell you what's new in the store and let you know what what's good. Bonus -- since this isn't the Tempe beer nerds' first stop, you can usually find a couple bottles of Hopslam and other popular brews long after the other stores have sold out.
AZ Wine Company -- Hidden in a strip mall off Scottsdale Road just south of Thomas Road, this cozy wine shop stocks a fabulous selection of craft beers that is always current with what's popular. Dogfish Head 120 Min and Positive Contact, New Belgium's Lips of Faith series , Great Divide's Yeti and Hop Fresh -- their selection is always changing, and the locals usually get first pick of the good stuff. You can get the inside track on what's available via their Facebook page.
Gilbert Convenient Mart / GCM Liquors -- This Gilbert Liquor store carries your favorite bottles and cans from Stone, Deschutes, Ska, and New Belguim and they are are constantly updating their selection of limited release beers. Recent adds include the super herb-y Saison du Buff collaboration from Dogfish Head, Victory, and Stone, Shipyard's XXXX IPA, and Wasatch Pumpkin Ale. Friend 'em on Facebook for new beer alerts.
Sun Devil Liquors -- Mesa's one and only place for a fantastic selection of craft beer is, and probably always will be, Sun Devil Liquors. Half of the dark and slightly musty store is dedicated to beer, beer, and more beer. Almost every bottle or bomber you could ever want rests somewhere on the packed shelves or in one of several coolers and if you're looking for something in particular, it's best to ask one of the informed staff members. More than likely they put it on the shelf, so they're going to know where to find it.
Whole Foods Chandler -- All of the Valley's Whole Foods Markets have outstanding selections of bottled beer but the Chandler store takes it to a whole new level. Not only is their craft beer selection one of the most extensive in the Valley, they have a bar that is dedicated to craft beer and offer beer classes every Friday night. If you're not sure what to buy, head over to the bar and have a chat with bartender and beer know-it-all James Swann. He'll point you in the direction of something you'll love.
Tops Liquors -- Sun Devil's sister store, Tops Liqour, has been supplying Tempe with craft and import beer since 1981. Owner Greg Eccles is a certified cicerone so you know that you can find the best of the best on these shelves. We've come across everything from Lips of Faith's Cocoa Mole to Dogfish Head's 120 Min to Epic's Big Bad Baptist, plus the full line of beers from Lost Abby, Rogue, Odell, Stone, Ommegang, Unibroue and more. Can't find what you're looking for? Ask. It's probably hidden in a cooler or somewhere in the back. If they don't have it, they can special order most products.
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Papago Brewing Company -- Before craft beer was popular, Papago started stocking their coolers with one of Arizona's best selection of rare and import beers. Anything you could ever want from Belgium, France, and Germany rest in their packed coolers along with all of your favorites from breweries across American and, of course, a huge selection of locally brewed suds. They only thing they don't have in a bottle is their own Orange Blossom and Elsie Stout (hint, hint, Papago).
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All our favorites lists also are available on our Best Of app -- see it in action here.