Escondido’s Holiday Wine Cellar celebrates 50 Years in San Diego. To celebrate, Holiday has teamed up with Escondido neighbors Stone Brewing Company to create a one off Imperial Irish Stout. While sipping away on this release, we can’t help but think back on all the great memories thanks to Holiday Wine Cellar. So, why not share them with all of you?
Sitting in the midst of a virtual craft beer wasteland in North County littered with Bev-Mos, super markets and various hot-shelf equipped gas stations sits an oasis. One that lights the streets of Escondido with its sky high flickering “LIQUOR” sign, promising to fulfill all of your adult beverage needs. Welcome to Holiday Wine Cellar – now celebrating 50 years in San Diego’s ever-growing beer scene.
For years, thirsty locals and visitors have been drawn to Holiday Wine Cellar’s glowing beacon of hope like flies to a whiskey and beer soaked neon tube, which can be seen for miles in Escondido. 50 years to be precise, although my history with the iconic bottle shop of course does not stretch quite that long. Yes, I did in fact grow up right down the street from Holiday, but my history with them only goes back about 10 years. Do the math if you are so inclined, surprise!
As I sit here sipping away at their 50th Anniversary Imperial Irish Stout, brewed by none other than Escondido neighbors Stone Brewing Company, memories from within that building come flooding back into my mind.
For the last 10 years Holiday Wine Cellar has been a go to of mine. A place where you meet new friends and run into old ones you didn’t know you missed, while searching through their massive selection of craft beer. It is a place to discuss beer, try something new and once in awhile, find that hidden gem you can brag to your beer buddies about picking up.
When I first found myself immersed in the world of San Diego craft beer, Holiday wasn’t only a bottle shop. It became my friends and my classroom. It was a place we could feel comfortable overstaying our welcome browsing and reading labels until we found the exact selections to sample for a weekend. If weekend plans held a pool party, back yard BBQ or a double-header softball game, it was normal for someone to yell out, “Dude, I need to stop by Holiday!”
Many years ago I met a girl who was a craft beer fan, just like I was. This was before I had learned how to easily acquire a Russian River bottle, and at the time I wondered if I could ever find Pliny on a store shelf. I wanted to impress her by bringing something super special over on a Friday evening. Thanks to Holiday, I was able to make this happen. I am now married to this girl, so you could say Holiday helped me land my wife. Thanks, Holiday!
I soon moved to San Diego where my craft beer knowledge grew and I became spoiled thanks to the likes of Bine & Vine, Hamilton’s Tavern and Toronado, but I never forgot where I bought some of my first coveted bottles of craft beer. In fact, when I recently made the move back up North, one of the things that made me most comfortable with the idea of returning to my stomping grounds was that I knew, Holiday was there for me. Now, when friends come to visit we always make a point to share Holiday with them as well.
To celebrate 50 great years, they have teamed up with Stone Brewing Co. to release an Imperial Irish Stout. This is a unique take on the style, which was dreamt up by their Beer Department Head, Mark Hodges. It is only natural Stone creates this special one off, as Holiday was the first retailer to carry their beer.
This specialty one time only release, as mentioned before is an Imperial Irish Stout which clocks in at 9.5% ABV.
When you first open the beer the scent is fantastic, with bitter chocolate and some coffee elements. As expected, it delivers deep roast flavors with a lasting bitterness resembling flavors of dark chocolate and of course coffee. It is robust, yet has a silky smooth mouth feel. Boozy heat comes through strong and hits you with a warming effect but is not over powering and is quite pleasant. The sweet and bitter balance remains after each sip and finishes nice and dry. I am looking forward to aging my second bottle to see how it evolves and becomes more complex over time.
A classy beer for a classy and historic shop. Thanks to Holiday Wine Cellar for all the craft beer and the memories. Cheers to another 50 great years.
Photograph taken by Haven Page Design.