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Getting the Low-Down on Hi-Lo: SoCal’s Coolest Modern Liquor Market

The motto behind one of LA’s premier bottle shops is simple: Good People Drink Good Beer. And so, we couldn’t help but think about this phrase when we met Chase Dipple, Beer Program Manager for Hi-Lo Liquor’s Long Beach and Culver City locations.

Let’s rewind a decade or so: Chase was working at a Dog Hotel in San Clemente in the same business park as Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing. The usual post-work routine was to head over for beer and talk to brewers in the back. And that’s how the love story began.

After continuing to develop these friendships, Chase met some beer blogger friends and brewery reps and decided he wanted to be involved in the industry – and that’s what led to starting his own beer blog, “Chase Craft Beer”. While the blog sadly didn’t survive, his love for beer did.

After a trip to Virginia in 2013 where Chase saw the craft beer scene blossoming firsthand, he made his jump to working professionally in the beer industry, as a Manager and Beer Buyer for a growler-fill store. This was where Chase got his first taste of beer curation, introducing customers to innovative styles and new experiences. Chase’s resumé in the industry continued to grow as he worked as a Tasting Room Manager at Stone Brewing in Richmond, VA, as well as handling distribution and sales for J Wakefield Brewing, Civil Society Brewing, Aslin Beer Company, and Dancing Gnome Beer.

In 2018, Chase returned to California and began managing Wiens Brewing in Temecula. That’s when he first heard of Hi-Lo. When he went to visit their Culver City location, Chase saw Aslin in the beer fridge and was blown away by the selection of beers that Hi-Lo was procuring. It wasn’t just a great selection of local brews in the fridge, but standout beers from across the country. As a beer geek, Chase knew that the beer program at Hi-Lo was something special, so when the Beer Program Director position opened at Hi-Lo, he jumped at the chance.

Get to Know Hi-Lo

So what makes the Hi-Lo experience so special compared to your average liquor store? First off, the vibe itself is of a neighborhood market instead of a big box store. Brightly lit, with a welcoming aura, the staff is genuinely interested in trying to help you find beer you’ll actually enjoy. “It isn’t about picking the most expensive thing in the fridge and recommending it. We really try to fine-tune what people are looking for and make an appropriate recommendation. You definitely won’t be oversold and convinced to buy stuff you don’t want. In fact, I think we may undersell because we just want to get the recommendation right,” Chase said.

Hi-Lo makes it a point to support local and independent beer whenever it can, but you can still find some macro beers in the fridge as they continue to be popular with a wide audience. According to Chase, “I like to taste the beers and talk to the brewers, but it goes beyond that. It’s helpful to know a brewery’s mission statement, how they treat their staff, if they have a specific niche, and how consistently the beer can be brought in, if it’s marketable or not. First things first, though – is the beer good?”

And the beer is good. And impressively, not always easy to find elsewhere. Chase gave us a taste of the oft-sought Veil Brewing on draft. We lost track of all the beer from Great Notion they have lining their fridges. They’re even known to carry Cantillon every once in a while. And of course, Chase often represents his VA roots with some Aslin Beer Co. You won’t find these strolling into the beer aisle at Bristol Farms.

Another thing that sets Hi-Lo apart? Their Flight Nights, every Friday at 5-10 PM in both their Long Beach and Culver City locations. Curated by Chase, the aim of these events is to create a fun experience and get people out of their comfort zones. Chase switches up the flights on a weekly basis so they never get old, whether creating a flight representative of beers from the same brewery, beers of the same style from different breweries, or a flight showing off new techniques in the beer world.

On the night we met with Chase, Hi-Lo previewed a Wheat Beer flight, pouring brews from Cellador Ales, Ogopogo Brewing, Two Coast Brewing, and Einstök Beer Company. Just some of the previous flight nights offered by Hi-Lo include American Saisons, Belgians, and Lagers, in addition to spotlights on both local breweries and breweries from around the country.

If a flight night isn’t your cup of tea, you can also ask for a curated beer experience and have a staff member handpick beers for your palette.

 

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Hi-Lo is slated to open a third location in Costa Mesa in the coming weeks. They know more than anyone how beer drinkers’ palettes can change not just from person-to-person people, but even by region. Wherever in Southern California you may be, do yourself a favor and take a trip to Hi-Lo – you never know what surprises you might leave with.

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