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Hamiltons Tavern

Not Rated.
Hamiltons TavernHamiltons Tavern
BA SCORE
98
world-class

108 Ratings
Ratings: 108
Reviews: 80
rAvg: 4.44
pDev: 8.11%
Taps: 30
Bottles: 200
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ 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:
None, yet.

(Place added by: stoner420 on 10-09-2006)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 108 | Reviews: 80 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of stoner420
3.33/5  rDev -25%

Hamilton's is a neighborhood bar in the South Park area. The beer selection is pretty great with 24 taps, good variety and a large selection of bottles.

Also pool tables, shuffleboard, and foosball. The sound system usually blares hard rock/metal very loud so it gets hard to hold a conversation. The interior is fairly spacious, but it's not a real big space. There are flat panel TVs. They pull the shades down over the windows at all hours, so it is always dim inside. I've heard this is at the request of the clientele.

They also serve food. It is OK, but nothing special, I wouldn't go there just for the food.

As dogs have now become the trendy thing in the neighborhood, you'll see more and more people bringing their dogs with them, even holding them up on their laps at the bar. So watch out for dog hairs and be ready to hear a few yapping dogs.

stoner420, Oct 09, 2006
Photo of mactrail
3.49/5  rDev -21.4%

I can't really add much to the many accurate descriptions of others, but every time I've been to Hamilton's I feel like a grumpy old fart. I hate this place.

Yes, the beer selection is among the best in San Diego. Just be warned, you have to be up for the mayhem. Besides the crowd and fragrant dogs tugging at leashes everywhere, the noise level is astounding. The sound system is like a bad muffler bolted to your skull. The seating and game tables seem to be designed for maximum confusion and elbow action.

Seems like the kind of place that should open at 6 a.m., but the bar stools would probably be full anyway. Between doing outdoor things and having to work sometimes, I haven't tried coming here in the early afternoon. So I've never been here when it wasn't filled with crowds yelling over the noise. Even on a rainy Monday night it was jammed, plus the gang of smokers lurching on the sidewalk. Enjoy!

mactrail, Mar 22, 2012
Photo of OlieIPA
3.51/5  rDev -20.9%

This one of many stops while in San Diego last weekend. The waitress from one of the places we visited higly recommended this place, so a few of my buddies and I decided to go here to watch the USC/OhioSt. game on TV. Unofortantely, we didn't stay for very long...and its not because of the game...but because of the place. The atmosphere just wasn't my thing...extremely dark (like being trapped in a closet while playing hide-n-go-seek when you were a kid), but I did like seeing a younger crowd then I'm used to seeing in places like this. The quality and service was average to above-average...no problems here. The selection on the other hand was incredible...I was lucky enough to have Older Viscosity. Awesome!! Overall, I guess this place was okay and I probably won't visit it again.

OlieIPA, Sep 18, 2008
Photo of PeprSprYoFace
3.55/5  rDev -20%

wow where do I start... Went there for the first time on their 2nd Saturday celebration and it was packed. Pretty sure fire code was being broken. Any way it is in the weirdest place too. Its like in the middle of a neighbourhood on the outskirts of downtown San diego. Their selection is top notch. Had an abyss. Bottle of jolly pumpkin. And a couple other hard to find local brews. The place was so packed it took a while to try and get your beer and it was hard to find a place to even stand and drink. And it was only like 4pm. Happy hour I guess on top of the celebration. Any way I would go again but the place is kinda dumpy looking and I would not make this my regular hang out if I lived down there.

PeprSprYoFace, May 26, 2008
Photo of bigbelcher
3.59/5  rDev -19.1%

A small neighborhood dive bar but with a really decent beer selection for IPA's and microbrews. A fun place to hang out with friends and to get rowdy in. Didn't order any food. Darts and other bar type games are around. Very local feel to the place, way off the tourist path. A little dark inside but not as bad as O'Briens. Bartender was friendly and knowledgable. Not a place to take a date or a girlfriend unless she is really into good beer. Worth a visit and located not too far from Toranado.

bigbelcher, Apr 29, 2009
Photo of charlzm
3.68/5  rDev -17.1%

Visited in the mid-afternoon on Sunday, May 18th.

Kind of a divey joint, somewhere between seedy bar and Irish pub. On the plus side, there was an utter lack of pretention from both the patrons and the staff.

Excellent tap list.

My friend and I grabbed the only two seats left and decided on our beers. Both of mine were awful; the first, a cask ale, tasted infected to me. The bartender did let me exchange the first one after admonishing me that I should have tried a taster first. The second had a flavor profile far, far off from what other reviewers on BA have noted.

Sorry, but I don't think I should have to try a taster of everything before I order it to see if it's in good enough condition to drink.

There were some older folks there, including a bearded pool hustler clutching a bottle of Bud who never, ever missed a shot. I'm so glad I didn't take him up on his offer of a game. I think a couple of the owner/brewmaster guys from Lightning Brewery were there also. There were lots of barely-drinking-age kids of both sexes who actually seemed to be enjoying camraderie and drinking beer. I'm more used to seeing similarly aged folks sitting all together at one table, texting people who weren't actually in front of them and ordering either bottled water or foofy mixed drinks.

So... despite Hamilton's having good atmosphere and a great tap list (as many other places in the San Diego area do), I am seriously concerned about the condition of the beer. However, the friend I was with had two or three pints, all of which he deemed to be in good condition.

Also, I was contacted by someone from the establishment and assured that the beer lines were properly maintained, so I have upped the score for "quality" from a 1.5 to a 3.

I still doubt I'll be going back there based on this experience.

charlzm, May 25, 2008
Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -15.5%

Sammy, Jan 16, 2014
Photo of bcerv-ca
3.75/5  rDev -15.5%

bcerv-ca, Oct 09, 2013
Photo of vonnegut21
3.88/5  rDev -12.6%

While visiting San Diego I was excited to have a chance to stop in and check out Hamilton's Tavern. It looks like a dive from the outside and that's exactly what it is. A fun dive with great atmosphere and amazing beer. Maybe a few more hipsters than I care for, but the beer was worth it. The selection was awesome. I drank my fill of Societe's The Pupil and Pliny the Elder, while also having a chance to drink a couple bottle of Silva Stout. I was really pleased with the beer selection. The only downfall to Hamilton's is the service. If one bartender sucks, I can generally deal with it. But here, every bartender I had seemed extremely displeased with me for wanting a beer. One guy actually gave me rushed, sloppy pours on two occasions, to the point where I actually complained about the three ounces missing from my pint. Other than the awful service, Hamilton's is definitely a worthwhile stop.

vonnegut21, Jun 26, 2013
Photo of DoubleJ
3.93/5  rDev -11.5%

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.

DoubleJ, May 06, 2010
Photo of mithrascruor
3.98/5  rDev -10.4%

Visited on a Friday night a few months back.

Hamilton's feels like a cross between a premiere beer bar and a hipster dive bar. Located in South Park, it gets _extremely_ crowded at times with the hipster locals, people playing pool, etc. Not exactly the type of atmosphere I'm looking for at a place like this. But the decor is nice and makes up for it a bit: dark wood, tap handles on the ceiling, etc.

It was too crowded to get a good feel for the service, but it seemed like everyone was nice. Lots of great beers on tap (like Gulden Draak, yay!) and in the bottle too. The food is a bit weird... walk next door, place your order, go back, and wait to get it through a window in the wall. Not very efficient... Food isn't that spectacular either, and it is mostly just sandwiches and such.

If you live in the area, definitely the place to be. Otherwise, I still definitley recommend this place -- just make sure to hit it on an off night!

mithrascruor, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of antoines15
4/5  rDev -9.9%

antoines15, May 30, 2014
Photo of nebuchadnezzer
4/5  rDev -9.9%

nebuchadnezzer, Jul 16, 2014
Photo of opwog
4/5  rDev -9.9%

I have heard about Hamilton's for quite a while and missed them on my last trip to San Diego, as time only allowed for a lunch stop and I guess that they are not open for lunch. This time we did get there and had reviewed the website and decided this was going to be our dinner stop.

First of all, if you go to their website (www.hamiltonstavern.com), it is a very polished layout and we even thought that this might be an upscale place. Boy, were we wrong. Also, it isn't a place that is very accomidating for a dinner. There is hardly any seating and the general atmosphere even by 7:00 is already sloppy drunk. They also seem to allow everybody to bring their dogs in here, so there were several dogs walking around and two even got into a fight. So picture all of this happening while the crowd was swaying and beers were spilling.

Now given that we went expecting a more polished place to eat dinner, you might think that I didn't like the experience going by my last paragraph, but that is not so. We imediately judged the place for what it was and decided to have two beers each and move on to another place for dinner.

It was crowded, yet the two bartenders seemed very good at catching my order each time that I approached the bar, even if the crowd was two deep. The dogs made me think that I was at a more rural bar of Alaska or some such place and not within the city limits of San Diego. The selection was incredible, if maybe a little high priced on some offerings. The crowd is friendly and the atmosphere is super casual. It is out of the way of just about everything and is buried into some neighborhood, but is well worth seeking out.

opwog, Jan 13, 2009
Photo of kleffman
4.03/5  rDev -9.2%

Went to Hamiltons for one reason and one reason only: Cask of Alesmith Decadence 2006. I'd drive 200 miles for a cask of that beer, but luckily it was only about 10 miles this time. Interesting area for a nice beer bar, but we found it easily and immediately grabbed a couple seats at the bar, right by the beer engine. I found this to be quite a nice place, and on this certain Saturday they happened to have free food/beer pairing going on which went quite well with a cask of such a fine imperial red ale. Their tap and bottle selection is very nice, well above average. Couple pool tables, shuffleboard etc. round this out as a great spot if you live nearby. Prices seemed decent, and I would definitely go back, especially if there was another crazy beer special goin on. Go grab yourself a special belgian out of the bottle and enjoy your Saturday afternoon here.

kleffman, Oct 07, 2007
Photo of drpimento
4.08/5  rDev -8.1%

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.

drpimento, Oct 22, 2010
Photo of acurtis
4.1/5  rDev -7.7%

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.

acurtis, Jan 03, 2011
Photo of ArrogantB
4.14/5  rDev -6.8%

I made sure to check this place out the last time I was in San Diego and was not disappointed. It was a Sunday and between the Chargers and Raiders bullshit I knew I'd need an extra beer or three. Luckily they had several ballast point beers on draft which I had yet to swill. The sea monster stout was the best and while the other two (sour wench and a wet dog lager bullshit beer) were duds it didn't matter too much. I haven't had the food but I've heard its good. The service was fine and the crowd was decent enough as far as a bar full of Chargers fans goes...

ArrogantB, Jan 29, 2010
Photo of DeanMoriarty
4.15/5  rDev -6.5%

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.

DeanMoriarty, May 18, 2010
Photo of jim102864
4.16/5  rDev -6.3%

Parking cannot suck enough, we all know that, but even if I had to park a few blocks down the street, Hamilton's was worth the trip.

A neighborhood pub in a middle class area of San Diego suburbia, it's no frills, and working class, with a nice mix of blue and white collar patrons all there for the comradery and good beer. Old brewana adorns the walls. The simple bar area is adjacent to a small dining room with several tables. Pool tables if you're into it though this Wednesday night in early October was all about Red Sox - Angels and the first game of the ALDS whic was on the tvs over the bar.

The selection at Hamiltons did not dissapoint. Sizeable San Diego area offerings including Green Flash, Karl Strauss, Ballast Point, Gordon Biersch, and Russian River. I had a Green Flash Double Imperial IPA to start...a lusty 9% served in a pint glass and only $5 (a snifter or tumbler for $7 in my neck of the woods). The bar was full and the service was dead on. Affable guys sitting next to me willing to talk beer, particularly Cali beer which made the visit even more enjoyable.

A no-frills working man's pub, but then again, aren't all of the BA fav's? A tad out of the way from the city proper, but worth the visit.

jim102864, Oct 25, 2008
Photo of botham
4.16/5  rDev -6.3%

Hamilton's is very worn in and towny with a wonderful beer lineup and great barkeeps. the place contains two spaces; you enter into one where the bar and seating are, and to the right there is a side space with pool, and a couple other games along with some more seating. the bar area ceiling is full of tap handles hanging from the rafters. the beer list is not printed; there is a chalk written lineup above the bar because the taps change so often.

quality and service are both great. correct glassware, great pours and friendly bar staff that are easy to talk to. the bar staff knows beer to some extent, but the friendly aura more than makes up for it.

selection is great. twenty to thirty taps with a great variety and fresh lines. this BA had two Cuvees, an IPA, a Black Lager, and a Russian Imperial Stout.

overall, this is a great beer bar in San Diego with a good variety of taps and a good atmosphere. fresh lines and friendly barkeeps; cheers!

botham, Aug 18, 2009
Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.2/5  rDev -5.4%

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.

Eriktheipaman, Nov 22, 2010
Photo of glid02
4.2/5  rDev -5.4%

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.

glid02, Jun 28, 2010
Photo of mrkun
4.22/5  rDev -5%

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.

mrkun, Jun 17, 2011
Photo of Yetiman420
4.24/5  rDev -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.

Yetiman420, Oct 18, 2010
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Hamiltons Tavern in San Diego, CA
98 out of 100 based on 108 ratings.