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O'Brien's

Not Rated.
O'Brien'sO'Brien's
BA SCORE
97
world-class

148 Ratings
Ratings: 148
Reviews: 116
rAvg: 4.38
pDev: 9.13%
Taps: 20
Bottles: 85
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

4646 Convoy St
San Diego, California, 92111-2315
United States
phone: (858) 715-1745

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @obrienspubsd

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: xlperro)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 148 | Reviews: 116 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Morris729
4.13/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Unusual location, but they seem to pull it off very well. Love the chairs in this place—some of the most comfortable I’ve ever seen in a bar. Tap selection is very good and the bottle selection is even more impressive (if a bit more expensive). The food was nothing special except for the fact that the garlic fries are a must-try. I wish the big screen TV at the front of the bar would be used for something other than soccer and rugby, but at least the smaller TV in the back had college football. Staff was very friendly—just be careful with the 3L Duvel glass (the Chalice of Doom) unless you have a taxi coming.

Photo of tonistruth
4.86/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I made my first visit here the night before Stone's 10th beerfest, so it was ridiculously crowded. First thing i did was walk in and look around. Plenty of taps, couple of tv's, and tons of people enjoying good beer. I liked the feel of this place a lot. Bathroom had a pretty decent sized line.

After that to the bar, place was packed and i still didnt have to spend more than a mintue at the bar. Great service. I started with a Sierra Nevada torpedo, and then an Alpine pure hoppiness. Didnt try the food, so i cant say anything about that.

I came alone, so i did the most interesting thing u can do, people watch. People around me where having some pretty inetresting conversations, so i joined here and there. Very nice crowd that hangs around here.

I highly suggest this place. Great service, great beer selection, great crowd. This place is a MUST if your in San Diego.

Photo of mrkrispy
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Every city has a Beer Geek bar and this is one of the best. The beers on tap still lean heavily toward the hoppy. The food is pretty good and has a great rotating selection of specials. BEWARE THE GARLIC FRIES! They are friggin awesome, but they will prevent you from getting action later that night - if the second or third pint of Pliny the Elder or Pure Hoppiness already hasn't.

For the locals, O'Briens is like an ongoing beer festival. Every week Tom gets in specialty casks and rare kegs. It makes it hard to keep the liver going. Saturdays have pint and bottle discounts.

The only things that can get a bit rough is the lack of seating and the lack of airflow. The place gets pretty full of sweaty men, so it can get a bit stuffy in there. Try to get a seat outside if the weather permits.

why are you still reading? Go to O'Briens!!!

Photo of bennetj17
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

If you are a fan of west coast hops, then this is your place. My first trip here was a blast. Nice and cozy in our soft green chairs, my wife and I sat down to have a few pints. The atmosphere was pretty laid back, with some English Premier League showing on the big screen and a few regulars hanging out on a Friday afternoon. The waitress came over to our table immediately and was quick with the orders. I'm guessing there were 25 or so brews on tap, lots of west coast goodies and San Diego area favorites. The only bad thing I can say is that 75% were IPA's or Double IPA's, which limited style selection, although I'm sure alot of BA's wouldn't view that as a bad thing.

I started with a Wipeout IPA and also tried the Russian River IPA, AleSmith Nut Brown, and Pure Hoppiness while I was there. I also lucked out and got to try some Pizza Port brews they were sampling for an upcoming tasting. One was an Anniversary Ale from 2002 I believe, plus an 03' Le Woody, and some SPF 45. They were damn good. We only tried a few things from the food menu, just appetizers, but they were solid and went well with the brews. Did I mention they have one of the most extensive import bottle selections I'd ever seen? Lots to choose from here, and you can take one bottle home if you desire. The pricing on the bottles was a bit high, but sticking to the taps our bill was suprisingly cheap. Needless to say, I highly recommend this place...

Photo of Billolick
4.28/5  rDev -2.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

We stopped in to this unassuming but at the same time "must hit" little place for an afternoon brew or two and some lunch, comfortable seating, sports bar feel, sparse but friendly crowd, quick and informative bar maids. The selections were the expected array of top quality, super hoppy SD/CA 2x IPAs, extensive and varied bottle list and other assorted goodies. This place is sort of in the middle of nowhere, but only about 10-15 mins from most places in SD. Go for the high quality brew, sports on TV, (we were told that Chargers games are a blast here), fun crowd, tasty burgers and other pub grub with a Cali twist. Highly recommended.

Photo of julitc
4.63/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Why oh why do they skimp on the air conditioning?? Why? Because they can. The place is still packed on hot days with people that love O'briens so much that they don't mind suffering it out.
I am often one amongst the sweaty pigs.

But I still think it sucks. The muggers deserve A/C :)


O'briens is like Cheers. Everyone knows your name. There are the regulars, called Muggers, who are guaranteed to be there. It's a mix of young and old, predominantly male, laid back professionals who work in the area. Beer is their favorite hobby - they know a ton about beer and you really can learn a lot in this place.

They have a great logo on their glass: "I didn't come here to save money or lose weight".

Photo of Weedchugger
3.73/5  rDev -14.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4

Many great things have been said here about O'Brien's, and I would agree with them. I think this review will be helpful to people going there for the first time because I will remind you to find out the hours they are open!

On Saturday I drove down to San Diego from LA with my friend for his 43rd birthday. His brother came too. Traffic was terrible, so we didn't get to O'Brien's until just before 8pm. On the menu it said the kitchen closes at 8:30, so we were lucky we made it a half hour early.

However, we weren't so lucky because the bartender said the kitchen had already closed. We were starving, so we found a nearby Islands and grabbed some burgers. But we still wanted our hop fix, so we got back to O'Brien's at about 9:10. It was then we were told that last call on a Saturday night is 9:30! Long story short, we drove for four and a half hours for one pint of beer.

Is this O'Brien's fault? Hell no. They can close anytime they feel like. I just made an ass out of myself by not checking their hours before I drove all that way. So, don't make that mistake fellow travellers!

(Sidenote, they only had three DIPA's on tap. Ruination, Pure Hoppiness and Pliny the Elder. I thought there would be more. Hmm.)

Photo of rousee
3.48/5  rDev -20.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 2.5

O'Briens was a good ways off the beaten path for me in my recent trip to San Diego but I was somwhat disappointed. Its a neighborhood bar in a strip mall that had this very interesting looking Korean restaurant next door to it. I may have to check that out the next time I am there.

When you enter, there is a bar immediately in front of you and the room opens to the right. It definitely has a sports bar feel to it as I believe they have darts and there were at least 4 TVs playing various sports.

There are small round tables with leather swivel chairs in the dining area and thats where we met our local BA hosts. We all had a good time chatting and knocking back a few beers.

They had some great CA beers on draft like Pizza port, Alesmith, Alpine, Ballast Point, as well as Russian River. The prices on the beers were extremly reasonable. All were $4 or less for a pint. Since I generally prefer draught beer over bottled, I didnt try any of the bottled beers but they have over 200 different ones.

Service was friendly and quick. I would recommend this place but it is definitely a pain in the ass drive from downtown San Diego.

Photo of JayTheFinn
4.65/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

This pub ROCKS! It's very laid back. Thick cushioned chairs, a beer garden, darts and four tvs in the corners. It was a very happy, friendly crowd on the Friday night we went. O'Brien's seems to get a lot of regulars. They even keep the mugs of their regulars hanging behind the bar awaiting the next visit. The bartender was quick with samples if you weren't sure what you wanted. She knew the selection well and could match up beers they had to meet your tastes. The 20 taps were impressive: Alpine, Alaska, Alesmith, Pizza Port, Boddingtons, Sierra Nevada, (I'm going by memory and memory is failing me...). Plus the Pizza Port Lou P Lin IPA was on one of those hand pumps, something I haven't seen expect in England. As stated in the last review, the Belgiums were priced a little high, $6.50 a pint I believe. The best value was naturally the locals at $3 or $3.50 I think it was. Everything we tried was fresh and tasty. The food was quite good too, and with a decent-sized menu of things to choose from. It is kind of a small place located in a strip mall in the middle of nowhere, but there's plenty of parking. It's a pub that's well worth searching out.

Photo of audiojon
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I've spent many an afternoon here, borrowing the free WiFi and enjoying a few pints. Awesome selection of IPAs, DIPAs, and the like, plus an occasional hard to find Belgian. There is always one or two beers on cask as well. Every visit to O'Brien's is exciting, as I never know what to expect! St. Patrick's Day, for instance, found me enjoying an Alaskan Smoked Porter and a Pizza Port Truck Stout that went perfectly with my corned beef and cabbage. My only complaint is that the taps are almost always 90% hoppy brews (hence the "hoppiest place on earth" label), and I'm a big Belgian fan as well. They do have a large bottle selection, but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay $15 for a bottle of Chimay. ;)

Food is pretty good, but beware of the garlic fries, especially if you plan on seeing a significant other anytime in the next 2 days. Service is usually very good, but they do get a bit busy sometimes, which is understandable. Tom, the owner, is there frequently, and is always available to make a recommendation or chat about the latest beer news. He also provides the best service in the place, always making sure your glass is full.

Highly recommended, and you may find me there if you come on a saturday afternoon. :)

Photo of dougnboston
4.63/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Really, really love this place. Was here several times over a weeks stay. It is a "local" hang with many regulars that invite you to fit right in. No problem making best friends. Open and alive with personalities.

The beer selection is wonderful. 20 or so taps with ever changing selections. A white board on the wall keeps you in the know with what's coming in the days ahead. Proper glasses for fine beers.

The food is fine. Not top shelf, but what you would expect for a beer bar. I had the BCC Salad (crispy fried chicken in hot sauce on a salad with bacon, cheese and the like). Onion rings were perfectly fried.

Nice people, great beer, good food ... don't miss it!!

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.95/5  rDev +13%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

A much needed update to my original BeerFly which is nigh on 2½ years old now. In short, O’Brien’s is *THE* place to be in SoCal, period.

My latest of many visits over the years was for the O’Brien’s 2nd Wet Hop Festival, that speaks volumes for the place in itself. The set up was laid back but attention to detail was impressive. It was busy at times, but the Service was absolutely top-notch, from all the servers, we even had table service when the servers were passing by, always asking how we were doing, anything else? Could not knock the quality, attitude and informed service one bit.

Aside from the 2nd Wet Hop Festival treats, the bottled Beer List itself has expanded slightly, not the greatest of numbers but a well thought out varied selection that will appeal to all. You can also buy One (for now) bottle to take-out too. But Draft is where it is at though, loadsa Hoppy Specials and the Beer Engine is still going strong with interesting Cask Ales at all times.

Since July 03 and my prior Review I had upped the Food mark. It’s not Cordon Bleu but the “Pub Grub” is stunningly attractive, wholesome, home made and takes some beating. The legendary Burgers often come with hot spicy beer cheeses now and the legendary Garlic Fries come with a beer-battered option, leave your cholesterol monitor at home! All this at very reasonable prices too.

Finally, working backwards, Atmosphere – It’s a 5.0, for me at least. Great Beer Bars so often suffer from high prices or attitude, you will find neither here, where else could you sit next to a table that had Vinnie Cirluzo of Russian River, Tomme Arthur and Jeff Bagby of Pizza Port, Tom Nickel (ex?) Oggi’s as well as the guy who owns/runs the Toronado in SF…..all relaxing and having a good laugh and drinking Wet Hopped beers and erm, well, playing Connect 4. Ego’s are left at the door here, I really like that, and the comfy Green Chairs of course. This is a real Down to Earth Gem – thoroughly wholesome, incredibly relaxing and a genuine unique treat. It is so easy to spend 10 hours in here and not even know it, I know I have done it several times.

Original Review: 4 - 4.5 - 4.0 - 5.0 - 4.0 >> 4.45
Revised Review: 5.0 – 5.0 – 5.0 – 5.0 – 4.5 >>

<DO NOT> leave SoCal or SD without visiting O’Brien’s!!

Last Visit: 22nd / 23rd October 2005

**** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** ****


Sat right in the corner unit of a strip mall, the unassuming exterior of this small bar hides a Cave à Bières gem.

When we arrived, there were some people sat outside behind a small fenced terrace area at the front. Inside it is rather small, quite cozy and was busy when we arrived*. The bar is to the left as you walk in, & runs all the way down the left handside with 20 Taps set against the back wall. Seating is available on the right hand side. All the seats are very comfy green swivel armchair affairs with castors, a unique touch & highly appreciated. Lots of coasters, & some Bar Towels, adorn the false beams & a small 45 degree false tiled-roof that runs all around the real ceiling, which helps to give a pub feel.

The range is excellent. There are two Beer Lists, one for draft, & one for bottled. Draft beers include many local offerings with a solid focus on hoppy beers. The bottled list has a great selection of Belgium Beers, all served in the correct Glassware which is a welcome refined touch, still quite rare I find. I started with an Oud Beersel Gueuze, & finished with a Rochefort 6 - the latter quite a rarity given its bigger brothers' dominance.

But the best was yet to come, a lone black-handled Beer Engine, with a homemade pump clip fashioned from a reversed coaster with the words “Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard” written on it. Could it really be that this legend was right here!? It was! I recall that we had at least two pitchers on our Table, before it ran off. I had 2 pints, & the effects of the oak aging were clearly evident, the beast had refined edges with a little more complexity.

We also ended up sharing some fine “beery snacks”, which were great, especially the Baked Potato covered in some fiery cheese. *We also happened to drop on a Mike’s Beer Cheese Tasting. Our luck was limitless it seemed. A plate of 3 mixed cheeses & crackers was summarily ordered. It proved to be a huge hit with the group. The Double Napalm Bastard cheese was awesome.

Quite simply - we were spoiled from start to finish. The service was very pleasant from the waitresses, & even the workaholic Tom Nickels himself at one point.

All this, as well as BA friends; 'xlperro', ‘EyeChartBrew’, ‘chuck’,
‘mzwolinski’, & we even had the company of the lovely ‘BeerWench’ for a while. What more could you ask for?

A cracking Beer Bar and my favorite bar of the whole days SD Pub Crawl. It was a real shame to leave it.

**HIGHLY Recommended**

Last Visit: 12 July ‘03.

Photo of SwillinBrew
4.66/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I finally got to go here when came down for the weekend to watch a Charger game.

This place is phenomenol! The inside is quaint, cozy and just the place to hang out with good friends and drink good beer. It reminded me of a cross between Hollingshead-Orange and Heroes-Fullerton.

I came right after the Wet Hop fest they had so there were some gems still on tap along with many of the local favorites that you cannot get elsewhere... actually, it seemed everything i drank i couldnt find much elsewhere ie the Alpine pure hoppiness and some of the wethop brews. It was very hard to make a decision... in a good way.

I unfortunately didnt get to try any of the food. I was looking forward to those garlic fries. I also saw the chalice of doom on the shelf and just bowed "i'm not worthy". Oh, I also picked up a bottle of Hansens Oude Geuze to go.

I need to come back here with some friends and get a hotel for the evening so I could just sample everything.

Photo of SteveO1231
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I've been wanting to visit O'Brien's for a long time now. I figured I'd check it out before the wet hop festival. Finally checked out OB's for the first time tonight.

It was little bit hard to find amongst all the asian shops and plazas down convoy st.

Place was great. Awesome relaxed atmosphere. I loved the big seats and the big screen TV, I felt like I was kicking it in my livingroom.

Great local beer selection and a huge import bottle selection.

I enjoyed some IPA's Alpine's Pure Hoppiness, Russian River's Pliney the Elder and Alpine's Whale.

Food was pretty good, good sandwiches, great prices. I had the Cordon Bleu chicken sandwich, pretty tastey.

The help was friendly, and the place had a nice mature, relaxed atmosphere.

Since I live only 5 miles away, I'll be going back!
Great Pub

Cheers!

Photo of BrewMaster
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I visited O'Briens for the first time on 9/2/05 to sample the cask-conditioned Alesmith Decadence. The place was not what I expected. I had seen pictures before and expected a huge place for some reasion. O'Briens is a small joint. Including the outside seating there are probably seats for 30 people at most, plus the bar that seats about 10 people. Still, it's a great place to have a pint. The staff is knowledgable and friendly with prompt and courteous service.

They have about 15 or so taps there with mostly local brews, some of which are hard to find. Also, they have an extensive bottled beer list with probably around 100 beers available for purchase. They also are selling bottles to go (max 1 per customer) which is a nice feature. Pints we around $4 which I consider reasonable. The food looked and smelled good, but I had already eaten by then.

The office-like chairs are nice if you're sitting at a table inside. The selection is what would bring me back to O'Briens though. The place itself isn't amazing, but the beer is and the people are good to be with. If I was local this would be my regular watering hole. Nice joint and worth the stop.

Photo of tavernjef
4.58/5  rDev +4.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

After a long day, how else could you end it without a stop at this place. Man the locals have one hell of a place to get use to. Its small, quaint place with room for about 60 or so. Patio outside seats maybe over a dozen. The interior has old German style wood beams crossing the ceiling with all sorts of beer coasters stuck on em. Wish I knew that, I could have brought a whole bunch of midwest ones to add to the collection.

Service is stellar. Of course it helps to know the regulars like the BA boys who frequent here. They frequent here enough that Tom the owner digs into his own private stash to share with them. On this night, we were given a Russian River Supplication to split. Nice. Great hosting.

Selection is also stellar! 20 something taps and all killer CA APA's, IPA's, Dbl. IPA's, and much more. Stone, Bear Republic, Alesmith, Alpine, Ballast Point, and Russian River all in full hop mode are dripping from the taps awaiting your order. I enjoyed the hell out of the Russian River IPA, and then enjoyed the hell out of the Oak-aged Arrogant Bastard, which put me out for the rest of the evening - thats a big beer if there ever was one. Then there's a two page bottled beer menu that has 100 more offerings. Various Belgians, a few imports from the UK and Germany, and a ton more local stuff. You could easily come here twice a day for 3 months and never have the same beer. They change the tap line up frequently enough to always keep ya on your taste bud toes.

Food...ummm again I have to revert back to my Liar's Club review to state that, I, I am a whimp when it comes to spicy food. I had simple quesadillas but the salsa had some bite to it for me and I was made fun of as I found out it was their mildest salsa. Yikes? I was told to try the garlic fries which are supposibly so full of garlic that you can still taste em a day and a half later. Um. No thanks. A few of the BA fellas grabbed the spicy beer cheese burger. On this night the burger was a bit out of the norm as the burger turned into a fest of name calling once the first bite was taken by AleOha. A couple lucky BA's also decided to give their mouths a work out and ordered it. Let's just say it was probably hot. I, of course, did not try it. Once all was done, it was given the name of 'Nuclear Fuckin' Spicy Beer Cheese Burger'. I'm definately glad I steered away from that whole part of the evening. The smell alone made my eyes water.

Unfortunately, the night ended odd with a couple drunken Icelandic fellas making themselves welcome at our table then getting out of hand with unproper etiquette and ham fisted attemts to raise anger. Very weird. People do some strange things when drunk, and they fit the bill.
Beyond that though, this place rocked my world and was a absolute treat to have been given the chance to experience it. Thanks fellas!

Photo of ChowHound
4/5  rDev -8.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This is a weird little store-front thats part of a bitty strip mall in an Asian dominated area south of San Diego. I drove out here to see what it was all about. The answer is hops. The atmosphere is a little plain, with some used office desks for chairs and some tables. A cool bar, not much in the way of signs or anything, but all made up for with great and hoppy local beers on tap. Big hops is the theme here, and I wasn't at all disappointed. Didn't try the food, although I hear it is good. Nothing out of the ordinary, but give it a go, it may just suit you.

Photo of OStrungT
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This place is great. It is located in an area of San Diego that is not too overcrowded. It is relatively small, without much parking. If you get there in the evening on any day, it gets sort of crowded. They have about 10 or 15 tables out side, and maybe double that inside. They also have a bar area. The tap list is impressive. They usually have about 20 beers on tap. The selection is always changing. Sometimes they have a lot of beers that I like, sometimes they only have one or two. But they always have at least one. They tend to have more IPA's than anything else. They also have an outstanding bottle list. It is one sheet of paper, both sides. They have many hard to get beers. Last time I was there, they had 2003 Double Bastard and 2004 Stone Symposium Ale. That is quite rare. The service is good. It is usually the same two people working. It is run like a bar, and they have a cook in the back. The menu is not very large, but I have liked everything I have had there. The garlic fries are great. I think they use a whole clove. The garlic is just sliced and put on top. If you get them, you better bring a toothbrush and some mouth wash. Usually I see the same people there. Everyone drinking is friendly. The whole place has the feeling of friend hanging out and having a good time. It is very reasonably priced. I go with my wife, and we both eat and have a few beers and it never costs more than $30. I can see why it is on the BA best places to have a pint. If you ever get to San Diego, you need to try this place. If you live here, and have not tried it, you need to. Now.

Photo of Todd
4.74/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

O'Briens. What an unusual place. It's located in a strip mall, next to some hippy shop, looks like a German deli with its guts ripped out, and is completely no frills. But holy shit is this a must stop! It's gets really comfortable as soon as the sun goes down, the lights are dimmed, and your being a lazy ass in those awesome, comfy, office chairs.

Beers?
Plenty of amazing craft beers on-tap. Lots of locals, which was exciting for me, guest brews and lingering offerings from previous in-house fests. At least 20 on-tap and a fairly extensive bottle list. Every beer I had was in pristine shape.

Food?
Didn't really have any food, but all I can say is: GARLIC FRIES! Get them. I munched on an order, and paid the price for days after.

Word of warning: if Tom Nickel breaks out the infamous Chimay chalice ... run! Damn you Tom Nickel! Damn you!

Photo of damjadi
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Every night, before I go to sleep, I pray that I will wake up in O'Brien's, struggling to select from the huge selection of MONSTEROUSLY hopped beer. I feel like Adam, banished from the garden of beer Eden, after spending most of my 2 years (and approximately 20% of my take-home income) at OBs. While some bars may have more taps, the quality and quantity of the beers at OBs have few rivals.
Add to that the friendly, homey atmosphere, the friendly staff, and Tom Nichols, and you have a slice of Beervana in San Diego.

Photo of rowew
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

With a nickname like "The Hoppiest Place on Earth," how could I pass it up? On the menu they say - 20 taps, tons of hops. I definitely found this to be true. Located in a small strip mall in an Asian district just off the highway, this isn't the kind of place you stumble across. Not much from the outside, but inside they have a decent sized bar, and a deecnt number of tables, all with cushy office type chairs. Also have a wraparound patio that seats quite a few people. On the wall behind the bar are twenty taps - mostly focusing on IPAs and the like. Also a pretty good bottled selection, but with a rotating selection of quality beers on tap including many hard to find locals I didn't care about the bottles. Food was fantastic .. we were there on Mardi Gras and they had Gumbo on special that was very good. Definitely a gem that should be part of any San Diego visit.

Photo of bultrey
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Took my first trip ever to San Diego last week, so I got in touch with the SD BA crew (mzwolinski, EyeChartBrew and BeerPatriot), who were kind enough to pick me up on a Tuesday night from my isolated hotel and take me out to O' Briens, "their little secret," as the group told me. It's a good thing I was able to hitch a ride (special props to EyeChartBrew), because O'Briens is in such a wierd place, on the corner of a highway strip mall. I mean, it's doubtful one would stumble upon this place without someone telling them about it.
Arrived around 5:00 Pacific to watch the sixth game of the ALCS (Go Sox! Rather, Go not Yankees!), and the place had a moderate crowd, but we scored the BA's usual table underneath the O'Brien's crest in the middle of the bar. This place isn't huge, but it isn't cramped. It would have more room if every table didn't have these cushy, office-style chairs, which I have to say, were awesome. All in all, it makes for a very strange but welcoming atmosphere, and I felt right at home.
There are, I don't know, about 15 or so taps on the wall, almost exclusively dedicated to local, high-octane brews. There was a Saison Dupont on draft, and a few other stragglers, but the story here was the hops. Hell, their nickname is "The Hoppiest Place on Earth," and I beleive it. I started with the Saison, and it was fresh, fresh, fresh and delicious. I knew it would happen, but I didn't bring a notepad, so I can't recall the next few beers I had. They were IPA's and the like, though. I'm not a raging hophead, so these all fell under the category of really good, but I couldn't really distinguish one from the other.
Next had an Arrogant Bastard, which was the freshest I've ever tasted it, and boy, did it make a difference. Just a different beer than I've had on the East coast.
The bottle list here is the real surprise. I'm not joking when I say that it rivaled, if not bettered, Spuyten Duyvil in NYC. Lots of Belgians, including a wide assortment of lambics, gueuze, etc., and a bunch of rare and hard-to-find beers from all parts of the world. We were going to split a bomber of Barrel-Aged AleSmith Speedway Stout, but alas, they were out. I settled on an Oud Beersel Oude Kriek Vieille to finish the night out, and it was bloody fantastic. All beers were served in appropriate glassware, many of which bore the brewery logo.
The prices were very fair, if not relatively inexpensive. The night I went had $4.00 pints, which you could knock down to $3 by playing and winning a fun little "highest roll" dice game with the bartender.
The food is average pub-grub, and works to stave off inebriation. I had the (in)famous garlic fries, and my palate, nor digestive system, was quite the same for two days.
Overall, I had a fantastic time, and want to give a shout out to my SD BA bros. Your little secret will not be a secret much longer. I suspect that if this place were in New York or Boston, it would be right at the top of the beerfly list, too.

Photo of Shaw
4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

While visiting San Diego in early August, Xlperro invited me out to his favorite pub for some great local beer.

This pub is easy to get to from downtown. It's in the corner of a strip mall with lots of outside seating to enjoy the incredible San Diego weather or smoke. There's no smoking inside, like everywhere else in California, a huge plus. There are nice swivel leather armchairs inside, much nicer than the usual bar decor.

O'Briens calls itself "The Hoppiest Place on Earth." They're probably right. They have about 20 taps and it seemed like 18 were IPAs. Thursday night (the night I was there) is local beer night, with several beers on special at $3 a pint. All the beer was good and very well priced. They have a great display of Belgian glasses, which allows them to serve their Belgian beer in the proper, brand-specific vessel. Cool.

The service was good. Marilyn took good care of us even when the place got pretty crowded. Xlperro says this pub is very popular with the white-collar crowd, so weekends are less crowded than weekdays.

I had the half turkey sandwich and salad special, which was good. They have a better menu than most pubs. It's not all standard heavy pub fare, in other words.

This is a place you need to go to while in San Diego. I'll be going back for some beers the next time I'm in town.

Photo of Dukeofearl
4.85/5  rDev +10.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Made my first stop at this famous place with about 30 other BAs on the July 24 BA nationwide festival. Had an excellent time, and a reasonable chunk of credit goes to Tom and his compatriats at O'Briens. This place is as unexpected as possible- by the name, it should be an old converted wood building with layers of paint and smoke stains, but it isn't. It's in a strip mall in an Asian section of northern San Diego where strip malls and used auto dealers reside.

Atmosphere was pleasant and friendly- the place was very hot, though (it was 90 outside and at least that inside). I had to walk outside in the breeze to cool off a couple of times. But the seats were comfy, the tables were movable, the TVs were large with sports, and they had a dart board to go with 20 some odd taps- what more do you need?

Quality and service was top notch- they kept a bunch of taps moving, kept lots of beer and food ordering straight and timely, whil ebeing pretty busy with a very small staff.

Selection was stellar. They had a lot of really good brews- and many of them I hadn't tried before, so I was a kid in a candy store. Monk's Cafe Brown Ale (Belgian), Yulesmith 2003, I can't remember them all- but almighty, what a list. But the killer was the bottle list- I wanted them all. Heavy on Belgians (the way I like it) but a bunch of other goodies too. But several of us worked oour way through the gueuze list, and had a wonderful time. Finsihed with Hanssen's which I hadn't had before (at Tom's suggestion)- a marvelous finish to the event.

Food- I tried both their garlic fries and the Blue Ribbon burger- both solid pub food, and good as such. No complaints- I've had much worse, but its not a 4 star restaurant (nor is it trying to be). Actually, the quality and quantity of garlic on the fries was pretty good- recommended.

Photo of Boilermaker88
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I finally made down to O'Brien's for the 24 July BA Gathering. Known locally as "the hoppiest place on Earth", O'Brien's is situated on the corner of a strip mall populated with Asian restaurants, vitamin stores and hair salons.
The interior is real laid back, with a good number of tables to the right and a nice long bar with seats for a dozen to the left. TV's are located in each corner with various sports events showing. Very comfortable. Then I noticed the taplist...wow! Yulesmith (2003), Russian River's IPA, Little White Lie and Pliny the Elder, Alesmith Speedway Stout, Anchor 2003 X-Mas Ale, Ballast Point's Bourbon Barrel Stout, Monk's Cafe Sour Brown, SN Harvest Ale, Ommegang Witte, Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise, the list went on. THEN I saw the bottle list...jeeesus! Almost 100 beers including Stone Symposium Ale, a massive number of Belgian ales, and rare and/or obscure domestic brews.
Tom Nickle was a fine host for our BA event and graciously dipped into his stash of bottles and growlers to produce some Alesmith 2001 Old Numbskull, Oggi's Old Viscosity and a couple others that managed to elude me as the evening grew more hazy. Tom was easy to talk with and came over often to chat with the BA's. He also gave us a show on the fine art of packing and setting up Randall the Enamel Animal which was in turn hooked up to some Arrogant Bastard. Randallized Arrogant Bastard, anyone?
The food was quite good and the servings were plentiful. the nachos and garlic fries were excellent. The menu was pretty diverse and the prices were very good.
O'Brien's is a must-stop for anyone passing through San Diego. With the incredible selection of stellar brews available, O'Brien's is a BA heaven.

O'Brien's in San Diego, CA
97 out of 100 based on 148 ratings.