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The Beer Closet, offering 400-different types of beer, to open in June

51st Beer

April 28, 2014 By Christian Murray

A new store offering as many as 400 domestic and foreign beers is opening on 51st Avenue.

The store, to be called The Beer Closet, is expected to open in June and will be selling bottles and cans from across the globe. It will sell four craft beers by the growler, a number that will grow over time.

Vernon Wine & Liquor

Vernon Wine & Liquor

The store owner is Mario Cruz, who has worked at Vernon Wine & Liquor for the past 2 years. Cruz, a 32-year-old former marine, got the idea for the store after many customers would walk into the liquor store also requesting beer.  The Beer Closet, to be located at 5-35 51st Avenue, will not be selling wine or liquor.

The store is located next to LIC Living and near 51st Bakery Café, which is currently seeking a wine and beer license (which includes a rear yard).

Cruz said that in the first year the focus will be on developing the retail operation. However, by the summer of 2015 he would like to have a bar/tasting area at the back of the store with the possibility of opening his rear yard. Cruz, however, said he would do his research on whether opening the back yard is a viable option.

Cruz said he will probably roll out some food options over time. He said he might offer cheese, chocolates, vegetables and other finger foods to begin with.

However, he said, his focus right now is on beer. “I’m working on getting it from all over the world—Turkey, Africa, Korea, and Taiwan right now,” he said.


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Unless they have a good deal on the rent, their overhead will challenge the volume they need to produce to break even. Rents are too high for merchants to make a buck. Spaces are being rented at absurd prices. There is a complete disconnect. Real estate arbitrage vs. what the market will bear for beer.

Beer Closet

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions! We are so excited to be working in this neighborhood and with great people. We will do our best to live up to your expectations.

I agree that our presence on the block could potentially bring more foot traffic to Alewife and I hope that we can help each other out.

LICer: We actually are already checking out Japanese beers!
Bill: Thank you!
LIC_Dude: Oh yea! lol
Time’s Up: We are on the same page! We will do our best to keep prices reasonable and unpretentious.
Joe: We could NEVER forget the U.S. of A!!!!

If there is anything else that we can do to make Beer Closet everything you need, do not hesitate to reach out to us!

The Beer Closet Team!


his location will be more than just a beer shop it will be a place of inspiration and gathering of minds in order to obtain the highest and best brews available. Survey’s continuous tastings have been conducted for the past 2 years to obtain closest to what L.I.C. has asked for and desires instead of opening a location and telling L.I.C. this is what you want.


From what I heard Alewife just changed chefs. Give it another chance on the food (I haven’t eaten there since the change, but I’ve had my eye on the ribs for a while.)


Alwife has terrible food , bad service i’d rather buy my beer and enjoy it on my rooftop with a bunch of friends.. now if their beers Aren’t $9 a pop with good food i’m sure more would visit.


Also, a note to Mario:

The USA is really in a Golden Age of beer. As a beer-loving consumer, I am more interested in the things that are going on here, rather than Korea, Turkey, and Africa. A low quality, crappy beer from an exotic place won’t mean much to a beer lover and probably won’t sell well, if at all.


I think putting it near Alewife is a great idea! Alewife could use some increased traffic, and maybe after a few pints at Alewife, one would want to take a few hard to get bottles “to go.” It’ll be interesting to see how it works out. The supermarket has a pretty good selection of beer already, so I wonder how this will be significantly different. I never counted what Food Cellar has, but it’s not bad. They do growlers as well….

I like beer, but....

Why would you do this across the street from a well established/respected beer mecca like Alewife. They offer beer by the growler, and have a great and steadily rotating selection.

Ok, so, yes. Bottles and cans, are nice to have. The problem is that what this guy is probably paying for this space will be passed on to… the consumer! This is why I seldom buy beer from bier&cheese, brojwerji lane, or any of the other fine fine choices we have within a mile of this location. $15 for a 6 pack, or worse, the illusion of ‘make your own 6 pack’ where you pay $20+ for 6 beers.

There’s lots of other places nearby with adequate (and yes, Japanese) beers as well. I’ve seen hitachino in food cellar for less then fairway. Even the key food on 21st has a legit selection of beers, priced reasonably.

I’ll definitely give this place a shot, and hope that if he undercuts the competition, he’s able to stay afloat. If it’s more of the same, I think it’s gonna be a rocky road.

Time's Up

“got the idea for the store after many customers would walk into the liquor store also requesting beer”

Wow. A good example of the overwhelming number of transplants in the ‘hood. Note to non-natives: liquor stores don’t sell beer.

This is great news to us beer lovers.

But Mario, if you’re listening: to echo above, please have reasonable prices. Just b/c we paid too much for housing doesn’t mean we’re not price sensitive.

And Food Cellar, for all its flaws, already has a very good beer selection with prices that aren’t crazy. Even if you can compete with them on selection, you will lose business if you can’t beat them on price too. That means $10 Sixpoint 4-packs and $10 Red Hook 6-packs, e.g.

Please don’t pretend to be Bierkraft and overcharge for everything.


The success of Astoria Bier & Cheese shows that this is a viable option and something that I personally think is a great addition to LIC.
Congrats Cruz


Japanese beer too please!

I hope the prices are reasonable so we can be a regular customers rather than an every so often DESPERATE customer (ahem, food cellar)


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