Hi-Time Wine Cellars


122 Ratings
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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Ratings: 122 |  Reviews: 97
Photo of PeterR
1.5/5  rDev -66.9%

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.

 1,055 characters

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.

 671 characters

Photo of The_Jerk
3.25/5  rDev -28.3%

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.

 593 characters

Photo of TNeedles
3.75/5  rDev -17.2%

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.

 1,460 characters

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.

 924 characters

Photo of HippieDave56
3.96/5  rDev -12.6%

Photo of JDean439
4/5  rDev -11.7%

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.

 3,510 characters

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.

 2,170 characters

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.

 573 characters

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.

 1,143 characters

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.

 2,580 characters

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.

 713 characters

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.

 550 characters

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!

 1,096 characters

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.

 663 characters

Photo of BillRoth
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of SimcoeKid
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of inscoism
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of greenspointexas
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of DotBier
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of jeff1973
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

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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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