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Hamiltons Tavern

Not Rated.
Hamiltons TavernHamiltons Tavern
BA SCORE
97
world-class

83 Reviews
Reviews: 83
Visits: 124
rAvg: 4.41
pDev: n/a
Taps: 30
Bottles: 200
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1521 30th St
San Diego, California, 92102-1503
United States
phone: (619) 238-5460

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
Place added by: stoner420 on 10-09-2006

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 83 | Visits: 124
Photo of 100floods
4.24/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I went here initially as a backup plan. Green Flash was having a holiday party and most of the brewery taprooms in San Diego closed on the early side (holiday hours). Luckily Hamilton's was on my list of places to check out, and they were open.

The crowd was mostly college kids or mid-20-somethings. Pretty lively, but tame. The space was crammed, but still cozy. The bartenders seemed pretty busy and didn't give off the vibe that they were in a rush to help you (to be fair, it was busy and they were pleasantly chatty with everyone at the bar or washing glasses, so no qualms), BUT when they did get to you they were extremely friendly.

Their tap list had a good SD representation. I had a Ballast Point Barleywine aged in Bourbon/Whiskey/Syrah barrels that was spot on, and very affordable. The bottle list was pretty good, too. Nothing too out of sight, but definitely what you'd expect at a place that takes beer very seriously.

If I lived in SD this would likely be one of my go-to bars during the week. (1,014 characters)

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.68/5  rDev +6.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I moved to San Diego about four months ago, and Hamilton's quickly became my favorite watering hole. I've been in here close to ten times now (including last night) and feel I can now write a complete review.

While there are many excellent beer bars in San Diego, Hamilton's stands above the rest for its deep and ever-changing selection and discounted bar tabs. The bottle list must have close to 300 entries, many of which are sour, bourbon barrel-aged, and the like. You'll still find lighter ales and lagers, but you won't see any crap. The tap list seems to evolve nightly, which forces patrons to try beers they may not order otherwise - I really like this. The tap offerings are always diverse, and you should expect to find at least one sour, two barrel-aged stouts, and multiple IIPAs, imperial reds, and barley wines on any given night.

As for those discounted bar tabs, I've received a light check on almost every visit (last night may be the lone exception). All of the bartenders are friendly, conversational, and beer-savvy, and if you chat with them for a bit, you'll usually get a beer on the house. The bartenders are also very attentive, so those that complain about slow bartenders were either there on an off night of they were doing something wrong. Ordering food, on the other hand, takes some patience, but it's always well worth the wait.

Last night I ordered the Jamilton, and it was sublime. All of the burgers, grilled cheeses, and sausages I've had were top notch, but if you're feeling adventurous (especially if it may be your only time here) order the Jamilton. Menu here: http://hamiltonstavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/menu.pdf

This is a must stop if you live in the United States. Make the pilgrimage to Hamilton's ASAP! (1,764 characters)

Photo of brewandbbq
4.58/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Hamilton's is located in an area that seems like it is purely residential and on the approach you would think you are in the wrong place.

30 or so taps, all high quality and local heavy. A fairly small place and can get pretty crowded at times. If there was a bottle list I would have like to have seen it. Lots of tap handles hanging from the ceiling, really a lot actually, and a longish bar. Tables off to the side. Plenty of hop-bombs on tap and otherwise a good mix of locals and imports. One of the barkeeps ruptured a can of beer and I got sprayed, so he comped me a draft of choice. Now that's great customer service.

I can see why it's consistantly rated as the best in SD. (685 characters)

Photo of berley31
4.46/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Dropped by last Wednesday afternoon...

A: Very dark. Nice bar, lots of tables, and a couple of pool tables. Lots of taps on the ceiling. Quite busy for a Wed. afternoon. Overall, a very neighborhood-bar-feeling type of place; cozy.

Q + Selection: A very decent selection of taps; lots of great beers I wanted to try. Had a couple drafts (SN Schwarzbier, Drake's Denogginizer), both of which were great quality. Very impressive bottle selection as well; there were a ton there I wanted to try.

Service: Sat at a table as the bar was full, so we went to the bar to order. The bartender was very helpful with a suggestion of which IPA to try.

V: Very reasonably priced.

O: A really great homey spot that I would love to check in on again. Two beers there was not enough. (772 characters)

Photo of mrkun
4.22/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This place has got 28 taps and a fairly decent bottle list. They didn't have anything great on tap when I was there, but they have had some pretty good ones in the past. We went in on a Wednesday night and the place was completely packed. They've got several pool tables that make for a fun diversion. There are tons of tap handles hanging from the ceiling showing you all the beers they've served over the years. Didn't try the food. Great energy at this place and it's pet friendly; I almost stepped on someone's dogs and didn't realize. (539 characters)

Photo of ExplosivoSR
4.95/5  rDev +12.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Hamilton's is without a doubt my favorite bar. 28 taps and the possibility of 2 casks means you're bound to find something you want. They also have a great selection of bottled beers. Prices are about what you would expect with the selection that they have, with the rarer beers they get being a bit expensive but worth it. They put on great events (Second Saturdays, Beer buses, etc...) and the staff is amazing. Coolest bartenders around. Food is great. Very good grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers, and beer cheese soup! YOU MUST GO HERE! (544 characters)

Photo of AndyGz
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Absolutely love Hamilton's. A long time ago the location was called Sparky's and offered nothing but BMC beer, so we only went there for the foosball and Pool tables. I had to drive up to O'Briens or the Liars Club for good beer back in those days. Now, it is the best beer bar I know of, and is only blocks away from my home. Hamilton's 28 taps are always filled with a mouth-watering selection of brews and I love their special events with great cask ales flowing from their 2 beer engines. They also serve awesome burgers and other good eats. It gets crowded sometimes, which really sucks, but during off-peak times the bartenders are very cool and knowledgeable. (666 characters)

Photo of Dankbeers619
4.45/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I first came to Hamilton's for a friends birthday party.. We all decided to buy some of the Eclipse series and share them...What a bad idea...not due to the quality of the beer but the mayhem that ensued....$100.00 dollars later I am stubling out of the bar and finding myself at the strip club up the street..a dinner, not the dance club..lol

Hamilton's offers some of the best beers on tap around San Diego, besides O'brizzie's....They have 2 beer engines and can handle any style of beer you may be looking for. They also offer an extensive selection of bottles, vintage and non alike.
One of the beers I do remember from that fateful night was the 05 Gueuze...what an incredible chance to try a rare beer like that.
The food is average and the lines are long, but if you have the time, would recommended this place to anyone visiting or just in need of a health brew... (875 characters)

Photo of SpdKilz
4.8/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Had a two day, one night trip to SD from LA. Many a people (including reviews on BA) told me to hit up Hamilton's Tavern. I am very glad I did.

I walked in with a friend and was greeted by a great looking chalk board of all the beers on tap. They had a great selection of rare, tap only Alpine beers. They had some other great beers including JP, PtE, etc. I saw on their website before coming they had Imperial Eclipse Stout - Four Roses Bourbon. This was one of the FiftyFifty stouts I was not able to obtain (have three others) and was tempted to try it. Well, I gave in. After having a few other amazing beers I had the bartender open this sucker up. The friend I was with did not drink much beer. She preferred the hard cider on tap. Anyway, I went up to a guy I was BS'ing with at the bar (about the beer while it was being opened) and asked the girl bartender for another glass because I wanted to share some with him since I didn't want hoard the whole bottle to myself. Later on when I was closing out my tab (and the beer cost a bit but honestly not as much as you'd think since I paid $35 for some of the other FiftyFifty's in LA) the girl bartender said she saw what I had done and said it was good beer advocating. She gave me the employee discount (which I immitigably made up the price difference in a tip). The whole experience was amazing. The bartenders were great, saw what I did and "rewarded" me. They most certainly did not have to do that but they did. A GREAT experience there and I will go back time and time again. Cheers! (1,549 characters)

Photo of abcentfishing
4.63/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Love this place. Personally I think they have the most diverse selection in San Diego on a consistent basis. The food is good bar food, I like the Hamiltons burger usually but have had many things along the way. Their Sat shindigs are awesome and shoud not be missed. If you live here or are visiting here and you like a nice selection and friendly atmosphere make a point to stop by. The service is always timely and friendly and I rarely get bad info or referrals and don't hesitate to let them serve me there favorite beer, never disappointed with what I get . It is a great neighborhood pub, have had many a great conversation there. (637 characters)

Photo of Hojaminbag
4.33/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Hamilton's was one of a few spots I wanted to check out while in San Diego for the day, and it did not disappoint.

This place has a little bit of a dive bar look and feel, with no natural light and slightly small, dingy appearance. A long bar runs all the way along the left wall starting where you walk in, with a jukebox in the back. A chalkboard on top of the bar has the taplist, and many sheets of paper in a binder represent the massive bottle list. Behind the bar are numerous coolers with bottles in them. A shuffleboard table is on the right, and some pool tables. The ceiling is lined with tap handles.

The crowd seems pretty mixed, and this place is dog friendly, because numerous dogs are hanging around and coming in and out. The bartenders have a hipster look and are polite and moderately friendly, but not in a hurry to start a conversation. When I ordered a sour off of the list that had recently sold out, the tender did suggest a few alternatives to me (which were good recommendations, but nothing new for a big sour fan).

Deciding to pass on the Firestone Anniversary beers, I ordered an Avery Sui Generis from the bottle list. This list is huge and well-stocked. Bottle specials are great prices, cheaper than I can get at bottle shops. The bottle list is on the website, so take a look if you're interested.

The tap list is awesome too. A ton of Big Sky offerings on-tap, including many barrel aged beers I've never even heard of, 2010 Ivan the terrible, 2008 Ivan the terrible for 4 bucks a tulip. 3 specials that are each 4 bucks, all sweet beer. Locals and some other interesting beers in addition to all of the Big Sky stuff.

Outstanding selection here, at a great price point. I was thrilled to see Ivan and vintage Ivan on-tap; they rocked. Overall, this is a great bar and I think it was my favorite place in San Diego. (1,855 characters)

Photo of acurtis
4.1/5  rDev -7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Hamilton's Tavern. Visited on 1/1/11.
My flight was delayed so I went to find Hamilton's. I would have never found it with out my GPS. Had BA Sea Monster, Victory at Sea and Oaked Yeti on tap. Nice selection of mostly Cali beers on tap. Place was crowded but was still able to get a seat at the bar. Hundreds of tap handles hanging from the ceiling. Tenders were good, no nonsense bar here. Mostly locals. There was a shuffleboard and pool table and some good bar music. Tap list was constantly changing, even in the hour I was there it was updated twice. Good place to visit when in South Park. They also had Anchor XMas verticals from 1999 to 2010 available. (661 characters)

Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.2/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Living in North County I was glad to finally make it out to Hamiltons. We figured wed get there right about 1 to try to beat any crowds and it was already pretty busy once we got there just one table left. Before we left the place was packed.

The beer selection is great and reading online It always seems to be changing.

The food was very good and well priced. The potato burgers were way good. Ordering is kinda strange with a side window looking into the next door Hamiltons Cafe but at least it frees up the bar staff.

Will be back again but I dont like having to stand while I drink so Ill prob stick to this place during the day or during the week. (657 characters)

Photo of kk73
4.58/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

In San Diego on vacation and this place happenes to be 1 block from a friends house. Went here to catch the beginning of Game 5 of the World Series, a bit empty when we got there but people slowly coming in. Many nice taps, and many nice bottles. Took advantage of a special they had, and scored a Coronado Brewing pint glass. Had Pliny the Elder on tap for the first time(had it out of the bottle before), and it definitely did not disappoint. Some Blind Pig also and it was just as delicious. Coronado Idiot IPA which was good, just not a match for Pliny imho. Wish I could have tried the food, everything that came out looked killer. A friendly local sitting next to us gave me the low down on the place and why its called Hamilton's. Hope I can end up here again, for an extended stay possibly! (798 characters)

Photo of drpimento
4.08/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Went last night for a few hours. Place was packed but we finally managed to get a spot at the bar with the aid of a nice older guy who turned out to have served on the Kitty Hawk in its earlier years. Other friendly people too. A couple of the better beers on draft and in bottles they were out of such as Alesmith and Dale's Pale. Service while friendly and helpful was a bit on the slow side. Our food was outstanding and really complemented the beer very well. Good vibe. I'd very much like to return. (504 characters)

Photo of Yetiman420
4.24/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I did a three day brewery, brewpub, beer bar tour of San Diego and Hamilton's was my final stop on a pretty busy Sunday (Stone, Lost Abbey, Ballast Point, The Linkery and a couple of bottle shops in between).

I made it around 8 PM to some very loud 70's classic rock. Hamilton's was the most neighborhood of the places I visited. Lots of people seemed to know each other and at least three people were there inside with their dogs - a bonus in my book.

I was pretty tired by this point and struggled to enjoy the atmosphere of loud 70's rock and people playing pool (one group even asking me to join which I had to pass on).

While there were plenty of beers on draft to choose from, I struggled to find one and settled on a Craftsman Pale Ale which was so bad I had to dump it out. I then went with a sure thing and ordered a Pliny. To me, it seemed like the draught list had too much stuff I could get at any good beer bar in the US and not enough unique WC micros. Just me and I could be wrong on this.

Free bottled water was a nice touch. (1,049 characters)

Photo of tbase
4.83/5  rDev +9.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Awesome beer bar. Solid amount of quality taps, and a fairly extensive bottle list. Great food, I ordered while it was really busy and they asked for a phone number, 20 minutes later I got a text saying my food was ready. The atmosphere is great, lots of beautiful beer logos and the roof is filled with taps. Also I think it's on the second Saturday of every month they have a brewery come in and its 3 dollars for that breweries beer while they cook up a lot of FREE food. So if your in the area you owe it to yourself to check this place out. (545 characters)

Photo of Tinfoilrcr
4.43/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Had a 6 hour layover at SAN and decided to check this place out after a quick scroll through beerfly. And let me just say I am glad I did!

Was there on 2nd Saturday with Firestone Walker. As a result 20 of their ~28-30 taps were devoted to FW (they even had a cask conditioned unfiltered BDA and a Black IPA on tap - soooo good!)

The prices were cheap, at least what Im used to paying in NYC (although everything is cheaper....).

The atmosphere was great, and the people/bartenders fantastic.

Overall i hihgly enjoyed my visit and would highly recommend to anyone. I will definitl,ey be stopping by on my next layover or trip to SAN (638 characters)

Photo of gildobeer
4.83/5  rDev +9.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Hamilton's is the spot. Great beer, good people, good games, good times. Bad toilets. That should really be their slogan. I used to come here a lot when I lived less than a mile away. A great selection of rotating taps, an even better selection of all different kinds of bottle, only second in S.D. to Toronado, but in my opinion this place has way more character. Good food too, the chili burger is a can't miss but it can be inconsistent. A great place to come to for Chargers games, but the 3+ hours can lead to larger tabs than expected (like a bizarro-costco). As a bonus, they have free food on certain saturdays, you cant beat it. (637 characters)

Photo of glid02
4.2/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Stopped by here after having dinner at Toronado.

Atmosphere is very nice. A surly looking bouncer checked my ID at the door however while stepping outside for a cigarette it turned out he was a lot less surly than he looked. The inside is dimly lit but the selection behind the bar is really all that needs a lot of light. The ceiling above the bar on the left side is covered with hundreds of tap handles. On the right side of the place there are a few tables and a shuffleboard table.

Quality is par for the course - proper temperature, head, and glassware.

Service is good. I never had to wait terribly long to order a drink and it also never took terribly long to get it to me. A friend and I also spoke to one of the bartenders on his way off his shift and he knew his beer.

Selection is very good. I remember there being a few standards along with a few beers that were a bit more on the rare side. All told I'd say it was somewhere between 18-24 taps.

Value is good, about average for what I saw during my stay.

Overall this was one of the more interesting places I visited while in SD and I'm sorry to say I didn't get to see it when less people were present. Be careful if you venture over here on a weekend night and don't like crowds, but if that's not a problem be sure to stop in. (1,300 characters)

Photo of woodychandler
4.45/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

It's sad, but between the loss of at least one notebook and my laptop, I was put off of doing BeerFly reviews for a while. I finally got back on the horse while visiting my dear cousin Colby last summer, but am only now getting around to their transcription. My apologies.

Dated H, 16 July 2009, this would have been shortly after my arrival in SD that summer.

The entrance was to the far left of the building with the door opening onto a long bar directly inside, along the left wall. The bar had a huge chalkboard detailing the "Hamilton's Tap List". Also behind the bar was a three-door cooler with various rotating beers inside. Coming right were the lavs, followed by a short divider and then the game room which featured two red-felt billiards tables and one of the fastest shuffleboard tables that I have ever encountered. Along the left front wall were three rough-hewn booths. The overhead of the bar area was festooned with tap handles while the game area had a fair amount of signage with a heavy emphasis on Belgians. Mondo Cane!: My cuz-in-law, Tammi, noted that she had never seen so many dogs just hanging out with their owners, having (literally) a howling good time. Noise was definitely on the menu here.

Beers: Better than thirty (30) drafts, almost all west-coast beers, plus the rare (on-tap) Hitachino White and a few others that have escaped my survey. I did not pay a whole lot of attention to their bottle selection as I prefer draft and/or CANs. They had plenty of bottles, but I simply was not interested.

Food: A cautionary note for those who may not like heat - an innocuous burger was initially laden with peppers which died an unseemly death at my hand. Caveat emptor! Otherwise, huge, satisfactory portions.

Atmosphere: A rolling, rollicking party! (1,785 characters)

Photo of BrlyHpsWtrYst
4.65/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

All I can say is WOW... All of my favorites under one roof. Killed off their signature porter and within a few minutes had Alpine's "Token" up on tap to replace it. A ridiculously good tap selection.. heavily representing our local fare, and why not. We have the best beer in the country imho... for those of you who doubt, drink some Alpine beer... anyway great food to boot, and if you're doin a 30th st crawl, head to Small Bar (same owner), where you will find an equally good beer selection but will be totally different from the beer at Hamiltons. (553 characters)

Photo of DeanMoriarty
4.15/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Love this place before sunset, can't stand to be in there after - too many hipsters and the place gets packed to the point where it's difficult to get a drink at the same rate your puttin' em back.

The darkness, decor, selection and food really make this place, especially the selection though - absolutely ridiculous (probably the best in town). Really dig all the taps hanging from the ceiling. Pool tables and shuffleboard are pretty killer too. The jukebox is solid and man, the food is off the hook! The beer cheese fries - what the hell!? Those are so bomb. Also, this place offers a few different wine selections that are pretty decent - this is crucial for me as my wife doesn't like beer; she'll actually post up in this place and get buzzed with me.

Overall solid spot and one of my favorite bars in San Diego, just look out for all the cool kids that seem to ooze from every crack and crevice in this joint like vampires after sunset. (949 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
3.93/5  rDev -10.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Me and my friend headed to San Diego without making any plans visiting one of the cities famous beer bars. We came across a telephone book at a phone booth and happily found Hamilton's Tavern in the book. We wrote down the address and called the establishment to see if they could give us directions. We got our directions, and in 15 minutes, we were at Hamilton's.

The inside is very dark and pub-like despite the sun shining at the windows (thank you window shutters!). There are a few booths to one side, beer memorabilia all over the walls, two pool tables, a shuffle board, and a small window that takes food orders. Oh, and a bar. There were at least 20 people there when we were there around 6pm, and to our surprise, a few dogs.

The draft menu sits off to one side of the bar, with the names of the beer, the ABV, and price. Beers from Avery, New Belgium, Green Flash, Lightning, St. Bernardus, Russian River, Coronado, Alpine, Anchor, and Bear Republic were available from tap. I saw 4 cask engines at the bar, but it didn't look like any of them were in use. Towards the other end of the bar are several cooler with the bottled beers. Bottled offerings from Cantillon, Kiuchi, Deschutes, Hofbrau, Full Sail, and lots of other offerings. While the food and bottle prices were reasonable, we were surprised about the draft prices; most beers were $5 and below, including Pliny the Elder. Even better, the two Nelson's I got were priced at $4.50 a pop, but received for only $4 each (was there a happy Hour I wasn't aware of).

We munched on some fried mushrooms and chicken wings, a step above the usual bar food quality. How I liked those fried mushrooms while not being fond of mushrooms in the first place will remain a mystery.

The only glitch I found was the glassware/presentation. I only saw shaker pint glasses being used. I didn't see any fancy/correct glassware. Maybe if I decided to just go for the Cantillon, I would have found out. But you know, I'd rather have my Nelson, thankyouverymuch.

The beer selection was what prompted me to drive over to Hamilton's Tavern, and it didn't dissapoint. And as a bonus, draft prices were cheap. I'm definately coming back. (2,192 characters)

Photo of yemenmocha
4.68/5  rDev +6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Nice combo of good pub food with great beer selection, especially West Coast hoppy beers. Few places had Sculpin but was happy to have found it here.

Atmosphere is dark with a more youthful crowd, a few dogs inside, and music that is a bit too loud for me.

Service from the kitchen person and bartender was just fine. Prices were fair, and parking wasn't too much of a headache.

Another must stop for my future visits to the area, especially given that it's a few minutes' drive from Toronado. (498 characters)

Hamiltons Tavern in San Diego, CA
97 out of 100 based on 83 ratings.