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The Wine Thief and Ale Jail
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$$ - reasonable
[ Store ]
1787 St. Clair Avenue
phone: (651) 698-9463
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Reviews by zeledonia:
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Seems like every time I go there, it's empty. And I can't fathom why. In fact, I'm tempted not to review it so I can keep it to myself and the others who already know about it.
You have to walk through the wine side to get to the "Ale Jail." Once there, it's roomy and quiet. Great selection, a wall of single 12 oz. bottles, a wall of bigger bottles, a wall of coolers, and tables in the middle with 4- and 6-packs.
The mixed 6-packs are the best value I've found; the per-bottle prices are the same as if you bought a pack of each. Awesome selection, mostly organized by style. They also seem to get less traffic than other spots with similar selection, so they have the limiteds and other sought-after stuff for quite a bit longer (e.g. they had plenty of Founders Imperial Stout long after it was gone from my local more-popular shop).
Staff is super helpful, and usually very available. Seriously, why is there never anyone else there?
Great place, well worth a visit for the value and selection. And I hear the weekly tastings are great, though I haven't yet made it to one.
02-21-2011 02:46:58 |
More by zeledonia
More User Reviews:
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | $$
The store itself is nice. Cool concept and it's played up and out on the walls all around you. Front entrance walks you into the wine area with a door frame a few steps to the right opening into the beer area.
Product is laid out nicely. I'm sure they have stock somewhere but oftentimes you'd only see one bottle of a label on the shelf. Whether to encourage you to buy or simply to save some space I'm not sure. There was nothing rare or special about the selection though what they have is what I'd consider the better quality of beers from the market.
Lots of local stuff including Braun Brothers, Steel Toe, etc. Remember a pretty decent sized Mikkeller selection if that's your thing. Of course, mix a six pack is available.
Service-wise, not much to say. They didn't bother me as it seemed they had other things going on. I visited on a weekday afternoon and saw one other customer so perhaps there was a massive event being planned that took up their time.
09-11-2012 15:52:47 |
More by JosephThompson
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I had the good fortune of staying less than a mile and a half away from this establishment during my visit to Saint Paul and was able to make repeat visits during the week.
The store is divided cleanly into a small room full of wine and a small room full of beer. A short wall is devoted to coolers, while the longer walls are lined with floor to ceiling shelves where you can select bombers, singles, etc. Everything is clean and well organized and protected from excessive light exposure.
I purchased an embarrassing amount while I was there, and the quality of every beer was superlative. You won't find a fresher can of Surly in the city (e.g. TWO DAY old Furious!).
Selection was fairly wide ranging in style with plenty of excellent German and Belgian beers intermingling with the wide array of local (Summit, Surly, Flat Earth, Steel Toe, Brau Brothers, August Schell) and mid-west/southern (Tall Grass, Bell's, Founders, Great Lakes, Rush River, Left Hand, etc.) offerings.
The staff was incredibly kind, knowledgeable, and accommodating without ever being pushy. It doesn't take long to realize you are among fellow enthusiasts when you step through the door (I noted a few growlers in the back of the fridge as well, shared among the employees as well as empty bottles of rarities the staff had obtained in trade). There is a secondary emphasis on food/cheese pairing to further elevate your beer enjoying experience.
With the 10% discounts on mixed 6 packs (make them up yourself), you can walk out with a large burden of bottles and cans for not a lot of money.
The only fault I could find is that they sold no glassware, but if this leaves room for more ale and wine it's a very minor complaint.
05-31-2012 17:49:47 |
More by augustgarage
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
This place has it all. Great selection, helpful and knowledgeable staff, and decent prices. They even open bottles for tasting every once in awhile. Not as large or fun as the Four Firkins but this is a nice runner up for best beer store in town. The other half of the store is a nice wine shop with staff that are also very helpful and friendly. My only complaint about the selection is that I wish that they got larger quantities of popular releases like Hopslam, KBS, Abyss, and I also wish that they did more tastings and other events.
01-30-2012 22:58:16 |
More by sacrelicio
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
Located a short distance from Groveland Tap in a neighborhood that looks straight from the 1960s. It is a nice, clean well-lit store with an entire room dedicated to beer. Less than a quarter of the beer is kept in coolers. It is organized by style throughout the room with a large selection of single 12oz bottles. The service was helpful and pleasant in late afternoon on a holiday weekend. The quality of every beer I've tried so far has been good. The selection was good but not as great as I had pictured from the other great reviews. I hoped to see more local/Great Lakes area beers in bombers/750s. This is a really good store that is pretty close to downtown St. Paul. It is worth taking the short drive to visit.
01-08-2012 17:22:01 |
More by zeff80
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
A great place to shop. I've been shopping here since it was only the wine thief, and the beer selection was a single shelf.
The expansion is nice. An entire room devoted to wall-to-wall beer.
It's well lit, with nice wood shelving, nice paint and decorations, and a wall of coolers.
beer is top quality. Turnover is pretty good, and they always have the latest releases.
Service is great. I've talked to many of the employees, they are always in good spirits and there is always someone knowledgeable on staff.
Selection is very good. It is well organized by style, and stocks some high quality stuff.
My only complaint is that since it is a go-to store, things sell out quickly, and even though I shop frequently, I don't know if I'm readily recognized.
12-30-2011 04:44:10 |
More by accordselux
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
I discovered the Ale Jail only about 6 weeks ago and have already stopped in 6 times.
I have a few favorite local beer shops that I visit in the Twin Cities area, and this one has become my most favorite.
It's a fairly small place, but somehow they fit a HUGE selection of quality ales inside. They have MANY single bottles and they are displayed so that you can find what you are looking for easily.
I have found very rare and hard to find items here almost every time I have hopped in.
The staff is both incredibly knowledgeable and pleasant to deal with. Very down to Earth people. Not pushy at all.
12-24-2011 16:59:59 |
More by Hopstout
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$
A= A funky/artsy fartsy presentation that definately orchestrates the gimmick of name play. Lots of murals painted about.
Q= Nice little store with good mix and match 6 pack program. Not a lot of cold storage available.
S= Service was helpful without being pushy. One guy was working at the time of my visit and was restocking.
S= A lot of cool beers but space limits their overall selection. I did find some more eclectic things here though which was a good surprise.
F= N/A I did notice that they do serve samples of cheese cake and other foods during tastings.
V= Fairly reasonable for the area.
08-18-2011 15:42:12 |
More by ZMOS
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I built the Ale Jail into my itinerary on a recent drive from Madison to Seattle. Of all the heavy hitter beer stores in MSP, this added the least amount of time to the trip. Other location notes - gas station right on the corner, Thomas Liquors a few blocks away and a Whole Foods in the immediate vicinity.
The focus of the stop was to grab a light stock of Surly cans and keep travelling. I was a little delayed by a lethal lightning/hail storm and had to wait outside the store for 15 minutes before it was safe to leave the car.
Surly bender, coffee bender, bitter brewer and hell were available. They had drained their furious stash but were kind enough to proactively call down to Thomas Liquors and gave me detailed directions on how to get there - very cool.
The focus of the main room is wine while the back room houses all the beer. There are a lot of bombers/750's and 4/6 packs in coolers and a large dry storage area housing singles, imports, etc.
Surly, Brau Brothers, Flat Earth, Rush River, Daves Brew Farm and lots of other midwest staples highlight the stash. I saw the Deschutes/Boulevard collaboration along with all the other Boulevard highlights as well.
A farmhouse 750ml (Auroch's Horn) was suggested by the shopkeep and thoroughly enjoyed.
Cool stop - very satisfied. Oh and whatever music they were dialed into was strong - heard an LCD Soundsystem song while browsing.
07-28-2011 15:33:09 |
More by dirtylou
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Let me get straight to the point; this is by far the best store I have ever been to for buying single bottles of beer. They have a great selection, but the best part is the price. Every bottle is priced in relation to it's case price. Every other store I've been to seems to round up to the nearest dollar; $2, $3, or $4 per bottle. At Ale Jail you pay the same price per bottle whether it's a 12-pack, 6-pack, or single bottle. Awesome!
Not a single "BMC" brand is to be found. Only the finest craft breweries on their shelves. Lots of Belgian beers and hard to find bombers and 750's. Cooler space is limited, but that doesn't bother me.
Knowledgable staff that is always willing to answer questions with straight answers. Great atmosphere. This is a beer store for beer advocates by beer advocates.
07-06-2011 03:44:08 |
More by Tamarack22
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The Wine Thief and Ale Jail in St. Paul, MN