Hi-Time Wine Cellars


98 Reviews
Hi-Time Wine CellarsHi-Time Wine Cellars

Type: Store

250 Ogle St
Costa Mesa, California, 92627-3808
United States

(800) 331-3005 | map

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Reviews: 98 | Ratings: 122
Photo of mactrail
2.63/5  rDev -41.9%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 2 | service: 2.25 | selection: 4.25

On the plus side, there are a lot of beers. Most of them are cold. Most have prices on the shelf, though not necessarily cued to the bottled there are currently occupying the space.

On the minus side, the beer area is so messy, cramped, poorly and inconsistently lit it's just an unpleasant experience to paw through to find things. Then there are the random bombers on their sides in flat boxes under the bottom shelves in the cooler, and some that looked like they just rolled there some months ago.

On a Friday at 3 p.m. the shelves were randomly stocked, misplaced beers all over, some an arm's reach way in the back of the lower shelves. Like they weren't really expecting any business. But I find a dozen and bring my cart up to what looks like a clerk's station. "Where would you like this," I ask, indicating the cart. So I roll the cart to the end of the counter where he can get them and he looks at me, like it's so tedious that he's going to have to pick them out of the cart. This looks like the place for kegs, or better yet, unusual rums.

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Photo of crossovert
3.1/5  rDev -31.6%

SO I shopped online, first of all, like 5 of the bottles I ordered they didn't have. So take them off the website. The shipping is expensive. Then one of the beers they sent was the wrong one, and did not reply to emails after that. It happened to be Orange Blossom Ale and it was terrible when I drank it after I figured there was no return.

So their service is really low, they at least emailed saying they didn't have a few products though.

The quality is fine, they shipped it in a a nice shipper, the beer seemed fresh. They also have a good selection of domestics and also imports unavailable to me.

But they have some issues. So be careful when ordering online.

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Photo of cdkrenz
3.55/5  rDev -21.6%

The overall selection of beers are good. They offer a wide variety of imported beers from Canada and Europe. They offer a moderate selection of beers from California. A few from Oregon and some scatterings of other breweries from throughout the country. They do offer a nice amount of bombers. The service was nothing more than average. They weren't rude and they weren't nice. The employees did their job. I'm fine with that. The overall pricing seemed to be a bit on the high side. Lot's of bombers in the $8-$12 range. From there the proces went up up up. Very few bombers for less than $6.

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Photo of rajendra82
3.85/5  rDev -15%

While on a short visit to Southern California, decided to check this store out based on the reviews read here. Located in Costa Mesa, the store looks relatively easy on paper to get too, but was a little more challenging on Saturday afternoon, due to the aggravating numberof red lights after the freeway poortion of 55 southbound ended. The store is big and well lit, but the beer part only occupies a fraction of the floorspace. The invenorty is located in standard cooler shelves and a large walk in cooler. There were some room temperature beers in the corridor, but I think they were also in the walk in cooler. The invetory outside of BMC is heavily focussed on California microbrews, and imports. Not too many out of state micros to be found here. The import selection was good, but not stellar. There wasn't a single import here that I couldn't also get in Georgia. The big California micros (Stone, Alesmith, Moylan, Marin, Bear Republic, Anderson Valley, etc.) were all here, and make this a must stop if you are travelling to the area. Service was business like and courteous, but nobody went out of their way to ask me anything. I liked the fact that they also sold some homebrew kits, which although were not what I was looking for, seemed like a good product to offer. They also have an online shiop and will ship to you. I liked to store, but they seemed to be missing a bit of that loving touch that I like in places like Green's and Brawley's.

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Photo of sweetbrew82
3.85/5  rDev -15%

Visited on 12-10-08

Just finding this place is a bit of a mission in and of itself. It is a bit tucked away in a residential neighborhood a little off the beaten path. But, it is worth the trip for sure.

Very good selection of craft beers, obviously, but no really hard-to-find brews that you couldn't obtain elsewhere on this particular date. But, they did have some awesome gift packs that really caught my eye. One of them in particular was a St. Bernardus pack of four beers and some kick-ass logo'd glasses for $19.99 I believe. Damn, I had already blown most of the money that I had won from a recent rash of successful bets!

The only thing that put me off was the service. I guess it's understandable due to the volume of customers at the time, but you will probably get totally ignored if you don't have a personal repoire with them. Other than that, this is should be your go-to spot if you live anywhere close.

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Photo of RidiculedDisplay
4/5  rDev -11.7%

Decided to stop in here, after all the rave reviews, four days prior to Christmas. It was something like 2 PM on that Thursday, and it was *crowded*. The parking lot is meager so I was lucky to find someone pulling out of their space, as there were little other parking options. The street it's on, also, is a bit deceptively small and the cellar itself does not face the street, so be careful not to drive by. Anyway, after parking there is a a main entrance to the left, and an entrance with an awning labeled "Beer/Kegs" to the right. Guess where I went. : )

The inside of the beer/kegs section was, like the outside, fairly busy. Cases of beer lined the unrefridgerated area just outside of the large, walk-in refridgerator, but I had learned to go to the walk-in for the good stuff from the reviews on BA. The fridge itself has an entryway for the walk-in on the right hand side, and on the left hand side a liquor-store style display fridge with five or six doors. This display section contained the bulk of the store's six-packs. I had wondered if the six-packs would be picked apart because of the mixed six-pack option Hi-Time gives, and sure enough they were. This is certainly wonderful for the BA wanting to create their own six-pack, but it is decidedly a disadvantage if you happen to want a full six-pack of something.

The inside of the fridge is not as big as some of these reviews had led me to believe, but it is still sizeable. Opened shipping boxes of some of, assumingly, the newer stock line the floor, stacked on-top of each other. These contained, among other things, Port's Santa's Little Helper, Stone Double Bastard, Hair Of the Dog Doggie Claws, and Ballast Point Dorado DIPA. In the middle is an "island" of these boxes with various American crafts and some Belgians. There is a shelving in back of the shelvings for the six-packs display portion that contains mostly 22 oz beers or single 12 ozes of some rarer things, including Lost Abbey offerings, the typical AleSmith line (IPA, ESB, and the foil-wrap cork bottles), some Rogue, some Stone. Really, nothing absolutely jaw-dropping, but some cool things here and there. There then was a shelving on the opposite end, over the "box island," which contained Belgians and German offerings. They had a good selection of Lambics, Houblon Chouffe, and some others. There is a final shelving containing more German offerings as well as some rarer South American/Latin American beer. The fridge itself was an appropriate temperate, probably something around 45 degrees, so none of the beer was "frosty," which I found a good thing.

Anyway, overall I was a little disappointed in the selection. I think the true value in this place is not that they get anything that, say, a BevMo doesn't, but that they have mixable six-packs. Don't get me wrong, they DO get some cool items that the BevMo's don't (HOTD Doggie Claws being the most notable one upon my visit), but there just isn't enough of a difference for me to make a trip there more than every once in a while, maybe. That being said, the service was helpful - there was an older guy helping anyone with any beer questions at all times inside the fridge (what a chilly job!), and the people who checked me out wrapped my beer in brown baggies, and placed them inside a nice cardboard box which has kept them from clattering since they've been in my car trunk.

Overall, worth a visit if you live in Orange County, perhaps not worth a visit if you are much farther away.

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Photo of Goldorak
4/5  rDev -11.7%

I’m really not a big fan what I saw of the OC. I guess it’s partly because of the area where our hotel was in Costa Mesa, there literally was nothing nearby, except a few bad chain restaurants where we ended up eating anyway, houses that all look the same and just a boring, soul-crushing suburban feel. I guess I’ve always been a city kid, even if (or probably because) I grew up in an environment just like this one. So it’s sort of a surprise for me to see a store like Hi-Times liquor in a place like this. Mind you, the store itself is a perfect match for this neighborhood, half upscale gourmet boutique and half stripped-down warehouse liquidation center. You can get a 40 oz of “vodka” for under 10 bucks to go with that 100$ an ounce caviar! Handcrafted Lagiole cheese knives to spread your cheese whiz! Grand cru wines from Bordeaux and the plastic party cups to serve it in! Anyway, what really stunned me was the Beer selection.

Great walk-in fridge section that my shivering girlfriend stayed in no more than 10 seconds, so everything is kept nice and cool. A few specials and cleanouts as you walk in, they just got some Lost Abbey beers, some Stone 10th anniversary and 6.6.6 vertical epic and some YuleSmith, both summer and winter. Good start!

Browsing through the 4-5 aisles, selection covering a lot of Californian micros, both big and small, a few others from out-of-state, an import section with a few eyebrow lifters, ciders and meads (not too much local rep here, but that was the case everywhere I’ve been to), I was totally satisfied with what they had. Prices were okay in general, with some bargains and some rip-offs, so it evens out.

Outside the refrigerated section you could find a rack with some glassware (basically a collection of shaker pints and a few Belgians), a fridge with liquid yeast and other very basic homebrewing supplies, and a few T-Shirts.

No staff to help out, just a guy at the checkout who promptly packed my bottles in boxes and I was on my way.

Even a diehard urbanite like me would suffer through traffic to head towards suburban hell as long as there’s a store with this kind of selection.

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Photo of magictrokini
4.05/5  rDev -10.6%

A righteous call if in Newport Beach. HUGE liquor store with my personal favorite, the walk-in cooler of beer. Really taken aback at the great selection. I found a Mammoth Charley Wine that I couldn't even find in liquor stores in Mammoth. Hair of the Dog, tons o' Belgians, and local stuff that I haven't seen before. Staff looked attentive, but busy with others. No biggie, I know what I want. Prices are cheap compared to some other stores. I saw Cantillons for under $15 as well as other. Most bombers were $10 or less. Is it Beverages 4 Less? No. But its worth a trip.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.05/5  rDev -10.6%

First off, many thanks to xlperro for leading me in the direction of Hi-Time on my recent trip to SoCal. Turns out, I went to visit a friend who lives in nearby Newport Beach, and she lives just a few blocks from Hi-Time. Who knew? She sure didn't, but I was fired up.

Upon walking in, I immediately realized that this place can satisfy just about any vice you may have; various tobbacos, smoking things of all natures, liquors, lots of wines, and in the back, the walk-in cooler of sweet sweet beer. They have an excellent selection of brews from around the globe, but those I can get back here in PA. I was here for SoCal beer, and SoCal beer I got indeed. A full selection of Alesmith (ho shit!!!) which I of course grabbed quite a few of, Stone, and some other interesting CA breweries that I'd have no chance of finding anywhere but in Cali. Hoppy Brewing, Belmont...a couple others. Really great finds. Service was friendly but not outstanding. Prices ranged from $3-11 for the beers I got. Pretty reasonable. Loved seeing Victory beers here too...a little bit of home so far away. Great place, and I expect I'll be back in June '06.

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Photo of JBogan
4.05/5  rDev -10.6%

Took quite a detour on my way from Las Vegas to the Santa Barbara area specifically to visit this store. I went there with high expectations.

Starting with quality: As far as beers which can be found in southern California, they have them all. Well, at least all the breweries. There are a number of beers from each brewery they don't carry, but for the most part each brewery is well represented. They really didn't carry any of the hard to find east coast brews. As far as imports, they have a nice selection but honestly I was hoping for more. There were a number of Belgians we don't get in Vegas, but then again we have a number of Belgians that this place didn't have.

Service was fair. Nobody asked if I needed help, and when I did have a couple of questions it took a while to find someone available to answer them. Eventually my questions were answered, but I never felt as if I was a valued customer or as if the people I spoke with were enthusiastic about beer.

Selection: Again, I visited this sore with high expectations, mostly due to the glowing reviews here. For the most part, my expectations were not met. Before I walked into the beer cooler I grabbed one of those hand held baskets, thinking I'd fill the sucker. After about 15 minutes of looking, I only had 2 beers in the basket which I wanted. Eventually I grabbed a total of 6, mainly because I figured that if I came this far out of my way to visit this place, I might as well leave with more than just two or three beers. Perhaps I'm spoiled from my trips to Belgium and Amsterdam where I'd walk into a beer store and be overwhelmed with hundreds of beers I'd never seen before. I struggled with what grade to give this store in the Selection department. If grading against your average run of the mill liquor store then this one is great. If grading against the stores I visited in Belgium/Amsterdam then this store is below average. If grading against the stores where I shop in Vegas then it's about a tie. I finally graded it a 4.5, and felt that was generous.

Value: Pricing was fair. I saw no great deals, nor did I see any ripoffs.

All in all I'm glad I came here, if only that it satisfied my curiosity and I found a couple beers I'd wanted. However unless I'm specifically headed into this area again for some reason, I most likely won't visit again. If you live in the area, or within a half hour or so, then you have a nice store to do your beer shopping. Otherwise it's probably not worth traveling any great distance out of your way. You can find most of this stuff elsewhere in SoCal.

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Photo of athensbeermaster
4.1/5  rDev -9.5%

This place hands down has the best selection of beer that is taken very good care of in a very cool climate in the OC. There selection DWARFS any store in this neck of the woods. The down fall of such a great store is there service is so RUDE and not freindly. I don't care I still shop there when I go that way. There wine cellar is at 56 degrees and every bottle is laying domn and taken care well. There cigar room is two rooms with a large selection of quality and value. Plenty of parking, There tequila section is so over the top. They also carry nice glass ware. As long as you don't expect service or a smile you know your still getting the best selection. And there goods are kept at proper temperatures.

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Photo of Jredner
4.15/5  rDev -8.4%

I’ve ordered online from Hi-Time. The website is well laid out and they follow up fast and pack well. You get e-mail confirmation including a printout of what you bought. Good choice for mail order. The selection is pretty damn good and includes the majority of the major California brews along with the plethora of smaller ones that seldom see distribution much outside of California. Alesmith, Stone, Green Flash, Reaper, Drake's, Lost Abbey, Pizza Port, limited release Anchor beers and much more. Definitely a store to shop with for beer lovers.

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Photo of beerhappy
4.15/5  rDev -8.4%

I stopped by here on a recent visit to Newport Beach to pick up a couple of bottles of Pliny (one of the few places that are currently in the RR distribution network). Nice place! My regular beer store is the Bevmo in Redlands but I have not been... uh, excited about their selection (even though it is fairly comprehensive) in awhile. I didn't really have time to check out the entire store so straight to the beer cooler it was...
Mmmm... within seconds I had grabbed was an Alesmith Horny Devil an Allagash Black a Madrugada Obscura and a Ballast Point Sea Monster (all of which I have not seen at Bevmo and haven't tried before). Then I asked about the location of the Pliny and picked up a couple of the reasons that I had come as well as 2 Blind Pigs (couldn't resist). Before I had left I also had to grab a 4 pack of St Bernardus 12 which put my total at around $80 for the visit and less than 3 minutes in their cooler!... self indulgent... stupid... bastard! Moderation and self control will be on the agenda the next time I visit this store... and there will definitely be a next time!

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Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.17/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Hi-Times serves up all kinds of unusual spirits, solid wine selection (with a wine serving area), and beer. On the plus side, Hi-TImes has a large refrigerated area for beers. However, the area is not well-organized and on the cold side (aka more like a cold ass fridge and not a cellar)... At times there are some interesting selections from all sorts of breweries (mainly CA based), but you really have to look. Moreover, there is an area off-limits to the public where other more rarer beer is stored and only a small number are allowed to purchase. Not providing an update of inventory is one thing, storing exclusives just for "friends" is a bit off-putting.

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Photo of OhHerrooo
4.3/5  rDev -5.1%

This is my local bottle shop, about 100 yards down the street. Hi Time has a great selection, and gets a pretty strong distribution of non-California beers. They are usually among the first to get limited release beers, and the staff is very knowledgeable on all the beers they stock. Alex and Holly are always quick to help and point out the newest beers that they know I enjoy.

I choose Hi Time over all of the other close by bottle shops again and again. Their awesome selection and great staff will keep me coming back weekly.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.3/5  rDev -5.1%

Went to Hi-Time Wine Cellars this Saturday night around 8 o'clock. Just a 20-25 minute or so drive down the 405/73/55, brings me here, traffic was surprisingly light. Beer is in the back, make a big right turn as you enter, past the wine on your left and spirits on your right. First you find a cooler of American microbrews, from Stone to Anchor to Green Flash (a wide selection), plus rarer ones like Stoudt's, and some really local Orange County breweries. The main area for beer is the giant cooler, where they include a wide selection of Belgians, Germans, the best selection of English beers you're going to find in the county, big bombers of California craft brews, and many others. The quality is impeccable, more than 90% of the beer is refrigerated, and this is by far the best selction overall I've found in Orange County. Plus, you can break up six-packs, which makes it a great store for trying new beers. Prices for some bottles can be on the pricey side, but overall it is very reasonable. Although this is a bit out of my way, it is a great store, and I tend to go to it weekly, or at the least bi-weekly, because it is simply the best store for beer in the North County area.

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Photo of waltonc
4.3/5  rDev -5.1%

Made my usual stop here while visiting in laws with my wife. The overall breadth of selection here is fantastic. I can usually count on Hi-Time to have the usual Alesmith suspects in stock (which are hard to come by in San Francisco where I live). However, this time they had no Grand Cru, Wee Heavy, or Old Numbskull. So a bit disappointing in that respect. Lost Abbey selection was standard, but they did have two bottles remaining of Ne Goien, which I promptly placed in my basket. Other offerings were good, but nothing that was exceptionally hard to find in Orange County on this particular date.

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Photo of claspada
4.34/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.75

Wowzers, what a selection. Huge wine, liquor, gourmet foods and of course beer store. Many different rooms, each holding their specialty.

There was a separate beer cooler which held most of their beers which is great for keeping those hops fresh and I appreciate that and give extra points.

Service was a bit spotty, many people working, none seemingly wanting to help, took me 5 minutes to ask someone where a bathroom was, anyway...

Plently of beer, probably the biggest selection in the greater San Diego area and a must stop if you are looking to grab some local beer and many none local beers that are distributed to the area. The second best place I stopped at in San Diego area, only second to Holiday Wine Cellar because their associates were much more helpful and courteous. Prices seemed in line as well.

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Photo of Krevee
4.35/5  rDev -4%

Stopped here after a long day at the DMV. The first time I came here it was a bit difficult to find, and also had a little bit a trouble initially finding the beer which is in the far side of the store from the main entrance.

Q- All the beer seemed to be kept in good condition as is was in the beer area which is a large walk in fridge to keep all the beer cold and away from direct sunlight.

S - Service seemed to be pretty good. The people don't always go out of their way to help, but if you do have a question you can just find someone and ask, they all seem to be pretty knowledgeable.

S - Great selection of beer. Lots of German/Belgians as well as plenty of domestic beers. Definitely one the best beer selections in Orange County. Seemed to have a few beers that a I couldn't find else where, but also couldn't find a few beers I had seen in other places. But generally overall a better selection of beer then other places.

V - Value is good, prices for most everything seem pretty standard.

Great Beer Store, one of the best in Orange County for sure.

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Photo of willjschmidt
4.35/5  rDev -4%

A simply outstanding beer store. This place is close to my in-laws so I checked it out during my last trip south. The reviews on BA led me to believe that it would be top notch and it did not disappoint. A huge selection of imports and American crafts but the best thing about this place is that it is almost all kept in a huge walk-in cooler. I tested their customer service only once by asking whether or not they had any Alesmith Speedway. The guy checked and said that they were out. It would have been nice if he offered to check to see when they got anymore in. The selection is outstanding and is probably why most people come here. The stock looks like it is also rotated very quickly so combined with the cooler you can almost be guaranteed that your beer is fresh. I highly recommed this store, one of the top 3 beer store in which I have visited.

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Photo of koolchas
4.35/5  rDev -4%

after hearing so much about this place, i was finally in the area and had an excuse to stop by.

in a nutshell; to me, this place is bevmo on steriods. it's huge. the place is broken out by 'areas.' spirits (hard liquor), wine, all have it's own area. they even have a good tobacco section (for you smokers).

brews are organized very well. the cold walk in cooler is quite impressive. many american craft brews as well as international brews. the belgian section was impressive with items i have never seen before.

prices seem reasonable. the more rare, the more hard to find, the more expensive. some 10.2oz belgians were $15 bottle. american bombers seemed very reasonable and competitive with other places.

was a little disappointed they did not carry dogfish head but, apparently this beer is very difficult to get in california and luckily, i have lone hill liquor for that which is a hop, skip, and jump for me. now, they did have other top brews which i have not seen anywhere else including lone hill. so, i was able to pick up some goodies that i never seen before but, heard raved here on b.a.

i do like the fact they have a website. i was able to check out the site first and when i got there i already had list in hand which made shopping much easier.

given where i live, this place is quite a trek but, when in the area (like at southcoast or newport beach), this will be an automatic stop for me.


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Photo of MiScusi
4.35/5  rDev -4%

As far as American beer goes, they stock up on mostly CA microbrews. Alesmith, Stone, Hoptown, Sierra Nevada, Bear Republic, Moylan's, North Coast, Anchor, Anderson Valley, Mammoth, Speakeasy, Lagunitas, and Lost Coast are a few of them. Out-of-stater's include Deschutes, Rogue, Avery, Ommegang, Abita. It's mostly west coast stuff, and mostly stuff you can find at BevMo, but the advantage here is that they let you split up 6 packs, so you can try whatever you want.

They also have a *great* selection of English, Belgian, German etc beers. They are all kept in a huge walk in fridge. Find an empty case or 6 pack holder and go to town.

The cashiers are very friendly too.

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Photo of vince4953529
4.35/5  rDev -4%

While spending most of my time between Orange and Irvine, this is simply an exceptional liquor store not too far away from me. Their English and Belgian selections are especially the strong points here. They won't have everything (for example, they're out of the Kwak the last time I came), but I'm sure you'll find some surprises here. Most of the West Coast brews are also well-represented, but nothing out of the ordinary. The service is alright, sometimes they will ask you if you need help or not, but most of the time they just leave their customers alone, which is the way I like. This is simply the best liquor store in Orange County. If you've stopped by in this area, be sure to pay this place a visit.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.35/5  rDev -4%

After carousing this place on the internet for a few years , I finally got a chance to visit this place in person. I was in near by Laguna Beach visiting relatives when wha lah, the subject of beverage stores came up , and Hi Time Wines was only 10 -15 minutes away in Costa Mesa, so, of course the next morning we were on our way.

The store is huge, divided into three sections, liquor, wine, and beer. The beer section actually looks the smallest, but it didn't lack for selection. Most of the beers are in a large walk in cooler, with maybe 10% of the displays at room temperature. Lots of mostly local California brewers for sale here including He'brew, Speakeasy, Alesmith, Bayhawk, and Hop Town among others, with a decent selection of imports. Not many Midwest or East Coast craft brews, though.
Back to their web site for a minute, they have way more beers available in store than the site has listed, just call and ask.
They also have kegs for sale, and prices are reasonable.

Overall this is a great place to shop for beer, and bonus points for most of them being stored in the cooler.

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Photo of mjl21
4.35/5  rDev -4%

Stopped by here on my recent Southern California trip. After reading reviews for various good beer stores in and around LA, I decided I would hit up Hi-times.

This is a really large liquor store that seems to specialize in everything from cigars, to wine to beer. The beer area is located along the right hand part of the store. Most of the beers are located in a large walk-in cooler. There are also boxes of beer located right outside of the cooler.

The selection was very good. They had a lot of stuff from Kern River; Abyss 2009; Mammoth; HOTD Blue Dot; Vicotry; RR Damnation, BP, and Consecration; Alpine Willy; Port/LA; and lots from Alesmith. Prices were very good.

I can't speak too much to the service. I did talk to a guy to verify that they did not have any more Alpine selections and he seemed knowledgeable about their inventory.

This is a great beer store. They had lots of stuff we don't get in SF and carried a lot of stuff that most beer lovers will enjoy. Worth stopping by if you are in Orange County.

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Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, CA
4.53 out of 5 based on 122 ratings.
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