To be a true beer connoisseur, you need to know a good beer store, a place stocked with local and national microbrews, imports you can’t pronounce and a knowledgeable staff to recommend new tastes. Here are a few choice stores:
Don’t let the rather generic Warehouse Beverage name fool you — this place packs serious punch. Not counting everyday mega-brewery picks, the store has more than 600 unique beers in cans, bottles, stoneware, forties, growlers and mini-kegs. Our favorite find, Cave Creek Chili Beer, is a Mexican lager with a chili pepper in each bottle. If you’re into brewing your own, pick up supplies in the home-brew aisle. 4364 Mayfield Road, South Euclid, (216) 382-2400.
Chuck’s Fine Wines is a Disneyland for East Side beer lovers, with more than 500 beers, including an enormous selection of Belgium’s finest. The truly adventurous should try Founders Breakfast Stout, a seasonal special with chocolate, coffee and oatmeal flavors. 23 Bell St., Chagrin Falls, (440) 247-7534, chucksfinewines.com.
North Coast Wine & Beer in Lakewood carries about 300 beers, including Northeast Ohio creations Buckeye 76 IPA (brewed about a mile to the south) and Akron’s Thirsty Dog. The store seems to specialize in German brews, with several shelves full of tongue-twisting names heavy on consonants and umlauts. Our most surprising discovery: Stiegl, an Austrian brew mixed with lemon soda. 1630 W. 117th St., Lakewood, (216) 521-7771.