Where I Buy 'Hard-to-Find' Beer ~ the Greatest Beer Stores W/OApr 8, 2002 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Refrigerators and FreezersThe Bottom Line I have compiled a list of fairly well known (but oftentimes hard to find) beer brands and where they can be purchased.
Over one-fourth of my online reviews are about beer, and many of the beers are "hard to find" microbrews, or foreign beers that are not currently listed in the Epinions database.
For my own research and buying needs, I have compiled a list of fairly well known (but oftentimes hard to find) beer brands and where they can be purchased. Currently, about 730 different beers are represented, but I am adding more as I make my shopping rounds. I generally spend four of five hours a week shopping for beer and wine, and the challenge I sometimes face is finding that special bottle of brew that other beer lovers here at Epinions write and rave about.
4-1-1's Southern California
Buying Guide to "Hard to Find Beers"
The Write Off ~ Greatest American Beer Stores
When John -- bruguru -- announced that he launched an open write-off for reviews on the "Greatest American Beer Stores," I felt it was my beer-loving duty to respond. But a question came to mind that I didn't ask originally but now pose: Am I to write about great stores that sell American Beer, or American stores that sell great beers?
I pondered the question, and then the answer came: The GREAT AMERICAN BEER STORE is a store that sells a lot of beer. All kinds. Foreign and domestic. Craft brewed, microbrewed, and even mass market brands. And, in particular, a great store will carry hard to find beers. Beers like: Alaskan Amber Alt-Style Beer, Alesmith Old Numbskull, Auerhahn Urstoff, Ayinger Jahrhundert, Baltika Extra Pale, Coopers Pale Ale, Edelweiss Dunkel, Gulden Draak, Hacker Pschorr Edelhell, Hair Of The Dog Fred, Ipso Facto Abbey Ale, Moylan's Barleywine-style Ale, North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner, Rogue Old Crustacean, Stone Double Arrogant Bastard, Sudwerk Hubsch Brau Hefeweizen, Wychwood Hobgoblin English Ale.... (Yes. The list could get very, very long.)
Here, then, is my list of Great Beer Stores:
My two big favorites -- local to me -- also feature online ordering:
1) Hi-Times Cellars
250 Ogle Street ~ Costa Mesa, California
Perhaps my favorite gourmet goods retailer. Hi-Times is located near the town of Newport Beach, California, and it caters to an upscale class of consumers. I drive 70 miles (round trip) just to shop there.
Huge cigar selection, European chocolates, caviar, 100+ year old Cognacs, rare spirits from all over the world, investment quality French wines, and a huge selection of great California vintages. The Beer selection is equally impressive: several hundred different varieties from all over the world. I counted over 500 different bottled beers, and best of all: the truly great beers are all secured in a walk-in cold room, so they are not subject to degradation due to heat and temperature fluctuations.
2) Beverages & More (Bevmo)
about two dozen locations throughout California
Another favorite shopping place. Bevmo claims to have over 800 beers available for purchase, but I've only counted about 300+ different ones so far. There are two locations in my local area, and there is a chain of stores throughout California. Bevmo is a beverage specialty store, carrying a wide variety of foreign and domestic wines, beers, and a fairly large selection of cigars, liqueurs, distilled spirits, mixers, soda and even water.
Great selection of domestic craft and micro-brews, as well as some fantastic beers from England, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, France, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Japan, Australia.
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3) Trader Joe's Market
Various locations through the U.S.A.
I really like TJ's, and there are several stores in California and 14 other states throughout the U.S.A. Although TJ's is a food specialty store, it also carries a wide range of wine and beer -- and usually the prices are great. I can usually find Belgian ales like Chimay and Duvel here, as well as some exceptional American beers from brewers like North Coast Brewing or Hair of the Dog. Plenty of English ales, too, like Samuel Smith's, Fuller's, and Young's.
4) Alpine Village, Home of the Oktoberfest!
833 W. Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90502
This is really a run-down, seedy looking "village" built to service the one-time large population of wayward German settlers in Southern California. It's a pathetic thing to look at -- most Germans that I know are even embarrassed to be spotted there -- but they have a fairly active deli/store that sells hard-to-find German and European beers by the case. A pretty darn good selection of German, Czeck, Polish, Dutch and even Russian beers, as well as a pretty respectable selection of European wines (particularly from Germany and Hungary).
5) The Wine Exchange
2368 N. Orangemall, Orange, CA 92865
Yep. A fantastic wine retailer that conducts the greater part of its trade in French and California wines, but they also carry a solid selection of cigars and five or six dozen different varieties of specialty beers from Belgium, England, Germany and America.
There are other favorites that I have, but none have the selection like my top five favorite stores do. Some, however, do have the occasional rarity (like the 1997 Swiss Samichlaus). One never knows what can be found by checking out the little hole-in-the-wall shops, and I make it part of my shopping routine to visit the small, out of the way stores.
Do you know of any Great American Beer Store -- or -- Great Beer Store in America? Join the bruguru's Open Write-Off and help others find those great beers that we're all clamoring for.
Visit bruguru's profile page for information:
"Two stipulations: You must have bought beer there, and it must have been for off premises consumption."
Cheers... and Happy Hunting!
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