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Buying beer in San Diego?

Joseph Jan 14, 2007 06:14 AM

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. ChinoWayne RE: Joseph Jan 14, 2007 06:17 AM

    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.

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      naven RE: Joseph Jan 14, 2007 05:54 PM

      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
        Joseph RE: naven Jan 14, 2007 10:58 PM

        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. m
        mimosa RE: Joseph Jan 14, 2007 07:15 PM

        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. Josh RE: Joseph Jan 14, 2007 08:11 PM

          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. n
            naven RE: Joseph Jan 15, 2007 06:50 AM

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

            1. n
              normalheightsfoodie RE: Joseph Jan 16, 2007 02:55 AM

              Guess where I live?

              You might want to try Cost Plus.

              2 Replies
              1. re: normalheightsfoodie
                Joseph RE: normalheightsfoodie Jan 16, 2007 09:47 AM

                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
                  leanneabe RE: Joseph Jan 24, 2007 08:40 AM

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

              2. Josh RE: Joseph Jan 16, 2007 02:12 PM

                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. n
                  naven RE: Joseph Jan 16, 2007 02:59 PM

                  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. MVNYC RE: Joseph Jan 16, 2007 05:17 PM

                    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. SteveTimko RE: Joseph Jan 16, 2007 05:34 PM

                      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. c
                        callmetomforshort RE: Joseph Jan 16, 2007 10:29 PM

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

                        1. s
                          stangoldsmith RE: Joseph Jan 23, 2007 09:44 AM

                          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. Josh RE: Joseph Jan 23, 2007 10:34 AM

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

                            1. e
                              eriqua RE: Joseph Feb 12, 2007 02:20 PM

                              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
                                Josh RE: eriqua Feb 12, 2007 02:36 PM

                                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. n
                                naven RE: Joseph Feb 12, 2007 07:42 PM

                                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. re: naven
                                  Joseph RE: naven Feb 12, 2007 07:52 PM

                                  Where? Whole Foods?

                                2. Joseph RE: Joseph Feb 12, 2007 07:58 PM

                                  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
                                    Josh RE: Joseph Feb 12, 2007 09:07 PM

                                    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. amyzan RE: Joseph Feb 13, 2007 07:42 AM

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

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: amyzan
                                      Josh RE: amyzan Feb 13, 2007 09:48 AM

                                      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
                                        Joseph RE: Josh Feb 13, 2007 10:34 AM

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

                                        1. re: Joseph
                                          Josh RE: Joseph Feb 13, 2007 12:22 PM

                                          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. amyzan RE: Joseph Feb 13, 2007 12:56 PM

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

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: amyzan
                                        Josh RE: amyzan Feb 13, 2007 03:09 PM

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

                                      2. MVNYC RE: Joseph Feb 13, 2007 02:57 PM

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

                                        1. n
                                          naven RE: Joseph Feb 13, 2007 05:00 PM

                                          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
                                            Joseph RE: naven Feb 13, 2007 09:21 PM

                                            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
                                              Josh RE: Joseph Feb 13, 2007 09:35 PM

                                              Port Brewing only bottles Shark Bite Red.

                                              1. re: Josh
                                                Joseph RE: Josh Feb 14, 2007 07:04 AM

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

                                                1. re: Joseph
                                                  naven RE: Joseph Feb 14, 2007 01:05 PM

                                                  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
                                                  naven RE: Josh Feb 14, 2007 01:04 PM

                                                  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. n
                                              naven RE: Joseph Feb 13, 2007 05:03 PM

                                              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
                                                Josh RE: naven Feb 13, 2007 09:35 PM

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

                                                1. re: Josh
                                                  naven RE: Josh Feb 14, 2007 01:07 PM

                                                  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
                                                    Josh RE: naven Feb 14, 2007 02:37 PM

                                                    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. n
                                                naven RE: Joseph Feb 14, 2007 08:37 PM

                                                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. w
                                                  Wino RE: Joseph Feb 16, 2007 01:32 PM

                                                  I'll add a rec for Whole Foods too.

                                                  1. m
                                                    MrKrispy RE: Joseph Feb 28, 2008 11:21 AM

                                                    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.

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