For over a decade, Bootleggers Beverage Warehouse and Redemption Center has been the place to go for beer, wine, or spirits.

Started by Tony Rossetti in 2007, Bootleggers has steadily become the go-to source for the largest selection of craft beer, wine, and liquor around. There is no better spot in the Midcoast to find the spirits you’re looking for, and if you’re not sure what you want, the selection is large enough and the staff knowledgeable enough that you’ll likely leave satisfied.

Rossetti started the business after working for MBNA America for 12 years. An opportunity came up that allowed him to branch out into a different business. Prior to his career at MBNA, he’d grown up in a family that owned a beer and wine wholesaler, so slotting into the industry made sense.

“With a lot of brainstorming with my wife Betsy and our business partner we created the concept of Bootleggers, a one-stop shop for all your beverage, tobacco and redemption needs,” he said.

Rossetti had seen business models similar to Bootleggers in other areas of the country, and saw a lack of anything like it in the Midcoast.

“I said jeez, I think that would apply really well in this area,” he said. “It’s funny how things grow.”

Little did he know just how much the industry would evolve in the next few years. Not that long ago, Sam Adams was as crafty as beer gets, and keeping up with trends was a smaller part of the business. Nowadays, if you’re not paying attention, you could get left behind.

Beer in particular has seen a seismic shift, with Bootlegger’s constantly keeping abreast of the next big thing.

“It’s become a very dynamic business in the last seven years,” said Rossetti. “Once a week, we’re getting approached by a new label.”

Carl Baade, manager of the store, keeps an eye on trends and is constantly changing shelves to match them.

“Carl does a really phenomenal job at keeping stuff fresh,” said Rossetti. Week to week, sections shift as new beers arrive and low-sellers leave. “When we started the store, 16 of the 24 refrigerator doors were beer. Now 22 of them are,” said Rossetti.

They can’t always predict what’s going to be the big thing, of course. When hard sodas began to take off with products like Not Your Father’s Root Beer, Bootleggers had to rapidly shift to selling the product. Just a year later, sales had dropped, and the store had to adapt once more.

Another example is flavored vodkas. A few years ago, massive areas of the store’s shelves were devoted to various flavors. Now, that’s shrunk back down. “Now it’s the brown liquors, the bourbons, the Scotches,” he said.

Bootlegger’s Beverage Warehouse & Redemption Center has a bit of something for everyone. Staff photo by Chris Chase

Keeping up with trends isn’t the only aspect of Bootleggers’ success. Having a solid base of mainstay products, and a knowledgeable, friendly staff that can offer suggestions is a big part of it.

However, if you go in and ask them for the beer you’ll like the most, you’re going to the wrong place.

“Everybody’s interpretation of flavor is different. My favorite question is ‘what’s your best beer.’ That really depends on the individual,” said Rossetti.

If you go in and have some ideas of flavors you’d like, though, they’ve got a practical encyclopedia of selection to try out.

Have something you really like, but don’t see it on the shelves? They can also help, occasionally, with that by special ordering. Bootleggers also occasionally holds beer and wine tasting events on weekends, allowing you to get a taste of some of the products they offer.

Bootleggers is located at 13 Hamilton Court. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit bootleggersmaine.com or call 725-5555.