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Buying beer in San Diego?

I live in Normal Heights and I'm a little disappointed with the selection of beers available at Vons/Ralph's/Albertsons and Trader Joe's. Are there any specialty beer retailers in San Diego? How are the prices?

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  1. How about BevMo, they have any branches in San Diego? You can go to their web site and see all the beers and order them online for pick-up at the store.

    1. There are lots of great places -- believe me, I spend more money on craft beer then I should. The problem is, you just have to travel a little bit.

      Bevereages and More is probably the most accessible place, and you should find everything you have wanted and more. My favorite is the La Mesa Store, which is huge. Prices are pretty reasonable.

      My favorite store is Holiday Wine Cellar up in Escondido. I also live in Normal Heights, but when im up in that area, I always stop there.

      Another favorite store of mine is South Bay Drugs in Imperial Beach. I know it sounds strange that good beer could be found at a drug store, but TRUST Me, it's awesome. The guy who handles their beer orders is a serious craft beer enthusiast.

      Clems liquor store in Kensington (across the street from the library on Adams) has a good selection but is pricey.

      Here is a good resource for everything beer in San Diego: http://www.ratebeer.com/Places/State/...


      1 Reply
      1. re: naven

        Thanks! I doubt I would have heard of South Bay otherwise. They pointed me to a great google maps mash-up: http://beermapping.com/maps/citymaps....

      2. Another good resource is http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/28

        O'Brien's Pub in Kearny Mesa has an off-sale license that allows them to sell a limited number of bottles. I believe Liar's Club (Mission Beach) and Hamilton's Tavern (South Park) also sell bottles. These are probably the best bottle selections in town IMO. Whole Foods in Hillcrest also has a great selection.

        1. Holiday Wine Cellar is the best, though you will have to drive up to Escondido to shop there.

          They have a huge selection of Belgian, English, and German rarities. Make sure to check out their walk-in cooler for an expanded selection.

          1. Absolutely, A trip to Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido is well worth the trip.

            1. Guess where I live?

              You might want to try Cost Plus.

              2 Replies
              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                Cost Plus World Market in Downtown or La Mesa? Or is there some other place which Google Maps doesn't know about?

                1. re: Joseph

                  There's one in La Jolla and also Escondido. And Carlsbad?

              2. One of the little-mentioned aspects of this is that if you're serious about your beer, you want to make sure you're buying it from someplace that knows how to take care of it. For example, the downtown Cost Plus keeps their beer in an area where it is frequently exposed to daylight. Some beers, such as Stone, are meant to be stored at cool temperatures, yet I've seen numerous retailers leaving out at room temperature for extended periods of time (BevMo is an egregious offender here).

                Beer's flavor is directly affected by how it's stored, which is why your best bet for purchasing the good stuff is shopping someplace where they know how to take care of it.

                1. Josh is right, and I would have to respectfully disagree with Normalheightsfoodie (although I love the name). My experiences buying beer at Cost Plus have not been great. For one, their selection is pretty weak. Most things that you find their aren't really any thing special, and they dont really carry any local beers (same with Trader Joes). Plus, the quality of the beer is horrible. They definitely aren't a beer store, and certainly don't take care of the beer as a good beer store should. However, it is a great place for coffee and tea.....

                  1. Whole Foods in La Jolla has a very good selection as well. I stop by there occasionally. Holliday Wine Cellars is the best however. You will be amazed at their selection.

                    1. If you make it up to Long Beach or Yorba Linda, a wine store called Vin de Pays has a nice selection of beer.


                      1. theres a packy on the corner of college and el cajon (used to be called keg)that has a pretty good selection.

                        1. Mazara's pizza and deli in South Park has a pretty astounding collection of beers considering that they seem to be a small neighborhood joint.

                          Unfortunately their prices are incredible (ie $5 something for a 24oz of anchor steam, not sure but I paid $28 for 2 six packs and one 24oz too. I think they make up the prices when they ring you up.)

                          They do have a good selection of those large Belgium beers (I forget the name) and many bottled brews you don't find in most places.

                          san diego food blog

                          1. Their selection is surprisingly good. They stock that largest number of Rogue beers I've seen in San Diego.

                            1. Whole Foods in Hillcrest is great. The girl that buys the beer there seems to switch it up with new goodies every now and then. And I feel like their prices are pretty good too.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: eriqua

                                They do have a good selection - the only thing that bugs me is they sometimes treat the beer poorly. Not too long ago they had a number of nice bottles sitting right under a window. Terrible move.

                              2. They have a nice Belgian Beer selection there, which is nice. They frequently have Belgian Beer tastings in the store which shouldn't be missed.

                                1 Reply
                                1. While I have your attention again, I'd like to thank those who recommended BevMo. However, I'm still looking for a bigger selection and more local beers, short of an hour-long drive.

                                  Can anyone recommend local beer stores with good selections from local breweries? I would especially like to see more AleSmith, Alpine and Pizza Port / Lost Abbey beers.

                                  Any place near central San Diego, Mission Valley, La Jolla or Mid-City would be nice. How about Clem's Bottle House, Servall Liquor or Pacific Liquor?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Joseph

                                    Unfortunately, you're looking at an hour-long drive, with a special hour round-trip for Alpine. Alpine's bottle production is very small, and they only distribute bottles to a liquor store down the road from the brewery. Apparently there's a guy in Imperial Beach who goes out there for bottles, but I'm not sure where his shop is.

                                    Whole Foods and BevMo both sell AleSmith's line.

                                    For Lost Abbey ales, again you're looking at Holiday Wine Cellars. I haven't seen them anywhere else, apart from at pubs like O'Brien's and Hamilton's.

                                    Clem's Bottle House isn't bad, they have some Rogues you don't normally see down here.

                                    I understand your reluctance to go to Escondido, but it is definitely worth the trip if you haven't been. Go with a cooler, and you'll come home happy, poorer, and well-stocked with great beer.

                                  2. Anyone know where I can get Rochefort trappist ale in SD?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: amyzan

                                      Holiday Wine Cellar has the 6, 8, and 10.

                                      O'Brien's Pub sells to-go bottled of imports, but only 1 per visit (and they have all three Rocheforts as well).

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        Is there some law that limits their ability to sell to-go bottles?

                                        1. re: Joseph

                                          Yes, it has to do with the kind of license they have. They're only permitted to sell one bottle of import beer per person as a to-go item.

                                    2. Thanks, Josh! Has anyone seen Rochefort closer to SD? Escondido is a good drive.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: amyzan

                                        It is a good drive, but it's well worth it. If you go on a weekend morning it's not too bad.

                                      2. Yes i purchased Rochefort 10 at the La Jolla Whole Foods. I am not sure if i have seen it recently however

                                        1. Joseph, im actually kind of shocked you aren't more pleased with Bevmo. Granted, it's not the best place to buy beer in San DIego - I know they carry the complete Alesmith line, and they now carry most of the pizza Port/Lost Abbey stuff. At any rate, I highly suggest you go down to SouthBay Drugs. They carry ALL the Alpine beers, all the Alesmith beers, all the pizza port/lost abbey beers, green flash, etc, etc. They have Rochfort 6&8 at Bevmo Mission Valley, and Southbay Drugs carrys the 8& 10. Southbay Drugs is about 25 mins from Downtown SD.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: naven

                                            Really? I didn't see any Pizza Port stuff today at the Mission Valley location; they did have a half-dozen bottles of Lost Abbey. Doesn't Port Brewing make quite a few other beers? Are they not available?

                                            I'm glad to hear that the Alpine beers are down at SouthBay. A guy at BevMo today thought they were only available at the brewery.

                                            1. re: Joseph

                                              Port Brewing only bottles Shark Bite Red.

                                              1. re: Josh

                                                So everything is Lost Abbey or on tap only? Now I understand.

                                                1. re: Joseph

                                                  You can find Old Viscosity and Wipeout, along with the lost abbey beers at Bevmo. Call ahead to be sure because they are out alot.

                                                2. re: Josh

                                                  Actually Port bottles Sharkbite, Old Viscosity, Wipeout IPA, and of course the Lost Abbey line. They bottle alot more now that they are in their new diggs (the old Stone Brewing facility.)

                                            2. Josh, you should also check out Southbay Drugs one day. I honestly don't work for them, It's just a gem that I think more beer geeks need to know about. It's right up there with Holiday. Not as big, but the everything they sell is quality.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: naven

                                                What's the address? I will definitely check it out.

                                                1. re: Josh

                                                  779 Palm Avenue, Imperial Beach 91932

                                                  Check out their website. It's pretty detailed as to what they have, whats on sale, etc.

                                                  1. re: naven

                                                    Wow - that's quite a list.

                                                    Depending on time of day, a trip to IB could take probably as long as a trip to Escondido (when there's no traffic). Southbound 5 from 3PM - 7PM is pretty brutal during the work week.

                                                    I will have to go check this place out though. I'd heard about it before - I remember them telling me at Alpine that there was a guy in IB who sold their stuff. Pretty impressive how much of it he stocks, and an impressive list overall.

                                                    Thanks for the tip - this is good to know about.

                                              2. The guy who is in charge of the beer (the owners son) is very much a craft brew enthusiast and totally nice. The prices are good too. Enjoy.

                                                1. I'll add a rec for Whole Foods too.

                                                  1. Whole Foods and BevMo are on my weekly rotation. Be sure to always check the shelves and not just the refrigerated sections. The turnover is high so don't worry about the good beers getting old.