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Taps: - / Bottles: -
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Store ]
403 West University Dr
phone: (480) 967-5643
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Reviews by Phelps:
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
A liquor store (Tops) and a beer/wine bar (Taste of Tops) that's become one of my favorite drinking spots in the city.
Taste of Tops has a laid-back atmosphere, often populated by the hipster crowd, though the occasional businessman will sneak in for happy hour after work. They usually play indie music and the artwork adorning the walls is produced by local artists and is always for sale. Taste of Tops will often hold events to showcase a new artist as well as new beers.
The bartenders at Taste of Tops are usually very friendly and knowledgeable about the brews they're pouring. The guys next door at Tops can be a little surly, but are also pretty willing to help you look around for a brew. The owner, Greg, is a certified Cicerone, and is awesome to just talk beer with. Just go in person; I've had a few experiences on the phone when workers seemed annoyed about my asking if they had a recent release, and once I was put on hold for ten minutes only to be hung up on.
Along with a decent selection of domestic craft beer, Tops has one of the better selections of European beers you'll find in the city. The downside is most of the stuff is left on the shelf un-refrigerated and exposed to the light. Some of the beers have obviously been hanging out for quite a while, so this might pose a problem.
I've never tried the food, though I believe it's just simple appetizers: chips, hummus, cheese, etc. You can bring in meals from nearby restaurants if you get hungry, and the place is right next to both a pizza joint and a place for Thai food.
The price of bottles at Tops is usually very reasonable; I remember picking up Parabola for about $13. The bar is another story. Glasses of higher-end beers can get up there in price -- Chimay is usually around $8, and I recently paid $11 for a goblet of Kasteel Quadrupel. They do, however, offer tasting flights for only $7, allowing you four three-ounce pours of any beer on tap.
11-19-2010 22:40:31 |
More by Phelps
More User Reviews:
vibe: 2.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
Just reviewing for the Shop, haven't tried the bar yet. The shop is fully stacked... I mean FULLY sacked. It is a lot of college kids running in and out so many of the imports and wines are dusty. Yes this is the desert and things get dusty quickly believe it or not.
There is a absolutely amazing selection however of most anything you could want. Basically If tops and total wine don't carry it, its not in the state. Although the staff can be a little abrasive at first, they are great and know what they are talking about. Also if there is something specific that you want, they will go out of their way to get on their distributors for it.
They have a large refrigerated section with many different micro-brews that is great for a quick stop in.
02-11-2013 05:36:07 |
More by Jonesy12
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
Just visited this place and was duly impressed with the selection. Being from out of town, visiting a local beer shop or brewery is akin to going to a museum or something.
I was way impressed with the selection. My goal, which was achieved, was to find what I can't get at home. There is a lot of Arizona beers as well as Southern California, and stuff from back east. The selection of Jolly Pumpkin and Lost Abby was insane.
It is crowded there because they have so much inventory. The owner asked if I needed help, but I politely declined.
A must stop for beer drinkers.
The tequila selection looked primo top!
02-01-2013 22:17:39 |
More by rhartogsq
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$
Reviewing the store and bar. I live in Michigan, so this place has a great selection of beer unavailable to me in my state. Seems dusty and not well organized but this does'nt matter to me. I'm only here to find bottles. The staff appear to be wishing they were somewhere else, so come knowing what you want. Connected to the store is a casual bar with a nice tap selection. I tried the Stoic and several local beers. If your looking for sours, I did'nt see anything worth buying. I think sours have not caught on in AZ like other parts of the country.
02-28-2012 16:01:19 |
More by jale
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$$
This is for the store, not the bar (Taste of Tops).
I like the atmosphere here because there's almost always some music playing in the store which gives it a cool vibe. The music has a broad range of styles but fits well with a more hip college place. The layout of the store is a bit crowded, and that's when there aren't many people in the store. On a Friday or Saturday night the place can get pretty hard to navigate. But overall the atmosphere is pretty laid back and cool - fitting for being essentially right at the heart of Arizona State University territory.
The quality (which I'm having a little trouble differentiating between selection) I would say is pretty good. If anything I would say it's a little lacking because it's hard to tell how long things have been on the shelves unless they are bottle dated.
The service is usually good. The employees are usually helpful when you ask for something but I have had times where they have been either a bit short with me (like they didn't really want to help me because they thought my question was stupid) or seen them do the same with other customers, especially ones you can tell aren't as informed on most things beer as some BA members might be. I've also noticed that they tend to be short with you on the phone when you call about releases. And if you ask about more than one thing, you can just tell the guy on the other end is rolling his eyes as he responds. The other thing that really gets me and causes me to knock the service is that I have had employees talk either directly to me or to other employees or customers about buying some more expensive beers and then selling them online to turn a profit. From what I have overheard, at least a few of them seem to practice this. I try to just overlook this, but it's happened so much that I just can't anymore.
The selection is very broad, great range of year round and seasonal beers, fantastic range of imports, and for the most part you can get most limited releases here, but there have been times where I have tried and struck out here when some other stores around the valley have had what I'm looking for. More often than not you can find it at Tops, though. Again the only downfall, which I deducted from the quality rating, is that you often can't tell how long things have been on the shelves unless they are bottle dated. Some things get pretty dusty and leave you wondering if you really want to spend the money.
And lastly, the value rating is where this review really sticks out for me. I understand that this is a smaller store and located in a college area but the prices are usually the what lead me to shop elsewhere unless I can't find something anywhere else first. It just seems like the prices could be a little lower considering the likely volume of money they take in for where they are located. When I compare prices here to other stores like Total Wine, BevMo, and Whole Foods, Tops is almost always more expensive by a few (or many) dollars. It's not so much that it keeps me from shopping here all the time, but if I can get it for $5 less somewhere else, you better believe I'm going somewhere else. Money don't grow on trees, ya know.
Overall, a good stop for the breadth of the selection the store has, but when comparing to some of the bigger stores, I'll sacrifice some selection for much better prices.
01-15-2012 05:47:25 |
More by matttttYCE
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$$
I have been to Tops many times being that I am a Tempe resident, and they are definitely a destination spot for craft beer in Tempe.
First, the selection at Tops is insane. After you have reviewed a huge double-sided aisle of American craft beers and rows of coolers featuring all styles, dont miss that there is ANOTHER aisle in the mid point of the store featuring two huge rows of imports! Belgian, German, Russian, English, you name it. You can usually find some rare stuff here.
Drawback - hard to tell how long some of this stuff has been on the shelf, because sometimes a layer of dust covers a particular bottle. Store aging anyone? :)
Tops has taken some knocks about the service, but I found their service to be just fine, as the one time I asked about certain beers, a clerk was more than happy to dig in the back until they found it, or walk the aisle with me looking for a missed bottle.
The aisles are a little narrow, and if the store is crowded (often) managing them while "window shopping" can be challenging.
Going to Tops is like a treasure hunt in that you never know what you will find. One caveat - not sure how often they "restock" and if you clean them out of a particular brand, it might be months until you find it there again in some cases. Sounds like an excuse to try a new potential favorite!
11-23-2011 22:33:44 |
More by TempeBeerMan
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | $$$
This is supposed to be THE place to go for beer in Tempe. I've gone into this store several times and while it's not bad, I don't find myself too impressed either.
First off, the staff can be pretty oblivious to what's going on in their store, or actually just rude. One time this lady asked about some beer(forget what she was looking for) for I think it was her son. The older guy at the counter kind of looked at her funny, pointed down the beer isle and said "have you looked there yet?" Dickhead. But other times they've been fairly helpful to me so take it for what you will.
As far as selection, aside from a few belgians, they really don't seem to have anything that Total Wine can't get for $3 less. The tasting room is cool though and worth a visit. Personally I'd rather take the trip out to SunDevil though.
05-12-2011 14:35:16 |
More by landspeed57
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | $$
Sister store to Sun Devil Liquor in Mesa.
Taste of tops is a small tasting room off to the side of the liquor store. The tasting room is a cool little place to hang out for a few beers. There's only craft beer on tap and the taps rotate pretty frequently.
Tops liquor store is one of the best in the area. They always get the limited release beers and there's always some real goodies there every time I go.
They even have vintage euro beers there as evidenced by the dusty bottle tops.
Great little place when I lived there and I always try to stop back when I'm in Tempe.
05-07-2011 20:52:21 |
More by jbtice0315
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
***Review for bar only***
Was on a crawl of crap beer places with a group on a Friday night on Mill....split off and hit this place solo to have some good beers at the end of the night.
Small, comfortable place with couches towards the front. Busy when I went but didn't take long for me to get noticed for a beer. Most of the people here knew their craft beer.
Nice combination of geek beers and others you've heard of that you just want to drink. Totally dig it. Beers were reasonably priced and poured.
Good alt-indie music played at a reasonable decible level...enough so that you could listen to it and have a conversation.
I will visit again next time I'm in Tempe.
05-04-2011 02:28:27 |
More by SunDevilBeer
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Located in a hole in the wall in Tempe, not the most prominent location, mixed amongst restaurants, bars, looks like an oversize convenience mart. Everything inside doesn't seem to have much organization, no rhyme or reason to have the stuff where it is. Shit all over the floor, dusty, stacked high.
What is inside is a good amount of beer. And some stuff I haven't seen before, so that was cool. Staff leaves you alone, lets you take extra cardboard if you need it.
Pricing doesn't seem out of the ordinary. I dunno what it is about the Pheonix area beer stores, but organization and appearance is not their strong suit. But I'd rather have a good varied selection over a pretty location, so I'd hit these up again if I am in the area.
04-09-2011 17:43:43 |
More by Beerandraiderfan
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Tops Liquors in Tempe, AZ