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O'Brien's

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

140 Ratings
Ratings: 140
Reviews: 115
rAvg: 4.38
pDev: 8.9%
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: 140 | Reviews: 115 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rolltide
5/5  rDev +14.2%

rolltide, Jul 09, 2014
Photo of jdheckman54
5/5  rDev +14.2%

San Diego is blessed to have at least one pub dedicated to one of life's most precious endeavors - serving phenomenal and quality craft brew. The selection of beer changes daily and there are routinely surprise casks on tap that will make you salivate long after you have left the pub. This is the place beer lovers dream of. There are few places like this on the planet and if you have any plans to visit San Diego make sure O'brien's is at the top of the list. Going to a brewery is one thing but being able to sample 10 different local brewery in one stop is truly a gift from the beer gods! Great Beer, Great People, Great Food!

jdheckman54, Aug 03, 2012
Photo of AlexM
5/5  rDev +14.2%

AlexM, Wednesday at 07:26 PM
Photo of Wbradfordheaton
5/5  rDev +14.2%

Wbradfordheaton, Jun 12, 2014
Photo of CbutlerSD1515
5/5  rDev +14.2%

CbutlerSD1515, Apr 28, 2014
Photo of afi4lifer
5/5  rDev +14.2%

afi4lifer, Jan 25, 2014
Photo of jcallover34
5/5  rDev +14.2%

jcallover34, Jul 22, 2014
Photo of SteveO1231
5/5  rDev +14.2%

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!

SteveO1231, Oct 20, 2005
Photo of Dmann
5/5  rDev +14.2%

I will be comming here more often for sure, but the one time I was there was quite the experience. The atmosphere was great with a few other BA's there and many other lovers of beer in attendance. The place is small and intimate and Tom always comes around and is very social. The selection is definantly leaned towards the hoppy side which is fine by me. And the night I was there we had many Russian River beers on tap and Cask. And as a bonus we had a bottle of Cantillion opened for xlperro's b-day. All in all it was quite and experience and I can't wait to get back!

Dmann, Jul 08, 2004
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.95/5  rDev +13%

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.

TheLongBeachBum, Nov 05, 2005
Photo of mithrascruor
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%

I've wanted to come here for a while now, and finally made it. I'd been by there many times in the past, and always found it strange that it was located amongst the Korean restaurants and stores. Seems that there's a lot of regulars who come here.

There's nothing particularly exciting about the decor, but the place is clean and doesn't feel crowded. Very nice, friendly, and knowledgable employees.

Absolutely fantastic selection: both on tap and in the bottle (they have a beer menu too). Local beers, Belgian imports, and a wide range of other imports and domestic craft beers. All good quality stuff (some of which are hard to find), served at the appropriate temperature and in the proper glassware. Lots of nice looking things on the menu (starters, sandwiches, and burgers).

I had the turkey, brie & grilled onion sandwish (fantastic!) along with a Rochefort 10, and finished it off with a DFH Palo Santo. Totally reasonable prices too, for both the food and the beer. I look forward to coming back!

mithrascruor, Mar 09, 2008
Photo of triggersd
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%

I learned of O'Brien's at a Stone Brewing Company anniversary party a few years ago. One of the venders (O'bs) was serving up a great sandwich...and this napalm beer cheese. Big Mike's creation is what led me here back then, and today an ever changing selection of taps, extensive bottle list and friendly staff make O'Brien's a frequent destination. A destination that should not be passed over by any enthusiast of fine beer. Tom and Lindsey have crafted a menu with a variety of rotating items you can find in the dry erase board as you walk in. Don't forget to get some fresh garlic on your fries. If you're a home brewer, this is the place to go. You like soccer? So does O'Brien's. Catch the UEFA action and the world cup at O'Brien's. Huge bonus for the soccer fan!!! Time to rally the troops...I'm off to O'Brien's. See you there.

triggersd, Apr 24, 2007
Photo of damjadi
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%

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.

damjadi, Mar 29, 2005
Photo of drewbage
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%

Visited during the July 24th BA Gathering

Located in a neighbhorhood of automalls and chinese herbalist shops, O'Briens stands in the corner of a strip mall as "O'Briens: An American Pub"

Armed with 20 taps full of all the best beers you can hope for. A bottle list of around 100 sits off to the side tempting the least virtuous ends of your nature. Combine this with a simple and effective menu of pub grubs and panini's and a hard working Tom Nickel behind the bar and you've got a great place to sit and have a brew.

This is a place worth a hunt out if you're around Miramar or heck anywhere in the San Diego area.

Tom's got a great place on his hands, but someone needs to get the man some time to take a nap!

drewbage, Jul 26, 2004
Photo of tonistruth
4.86/5  rDev +11%

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.

tonistruth, Sep 25, 2006
Photo of Dukeofearl
4.85/5  rDev +10.7%

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.

Dukeofearl, Jul 27, 2004
Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%

Decided to come here when I was in the area because of how highly people talk about it. It was not what I was expecting. It looks like a typical semi-dive bar from the outside and soet of on the inside if you don't pay attention to all the wonderful tap handles and the cool leather almost recliner seats. You can tell they dont try and spend alot of money sprucing the place up.

The beer selection was great. All sorts of beers you would never be able to find at other bars let alone that many beers of that quality in one place. I had an Alpine Pure Hoppyness since I had never tried it before and then had to get a bottle of Damnation Batch 23 since I will probably never see it again.

Their bottle list is more impressive than a lot of bottle shops but it is too bad they lost their liscense to sell all bottles to-go. They can only sell non-US beers to go but most of those you can find in a decent bottle shop.

Service was pretty good but you get everything yourself from the bar any way but the service there was good. Frendly staff.

II will be coming here again for sure if I ever get the chance. Especially for one of their special event nights that takes place...

PeprSprYoFace, Feb 23, 2009
Photo of mrkrispy
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%

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!!!

mrkrispy, Aug 30, 2006
Photo of steadydose
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%

I have been going to Obriens pretty regularly, atleast more than any other place I go, and it has become a favorite place for me and my friends to go. If you want to go somewhere to get quality brews, especially hoppy ones then this is the place for you. Obrien's has an extensive bottle list, where I usually get my sour fix after a long night of drinking stouts or IPA's. The food is good, I usually get the beer battered fries or there sandwiches. What I love about this place is the outdoor patio. I rarely sit inside. It's good place to hang out with friends and be able to enjoy my beers w/ a cigar if I choose to. All the bartenders are great and the patrons are really friendly. Highly recommended, maybe the only down side is sometimes its hard to find parking inside the main lot.

steadydose, Jan 08, 2010
Photo of Boilermaker88
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%

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.

Boilermaker88, Jul 26, 2004
Photo of oggg
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%

I finally made it out to O'Briens on a Wednesday night with 2 buddies. It's a night without many specials, so it wasn't all that lively and emptied out pretty quick after 9pm.

There is an outside patio with tables that makes an L around the side of the bar. Inside is a nice long bar. There is a big screen TV in the corner and 3-4 other TVs. The room is filled with big comfy looking chairs and tables. The rafters are covered with innumerous coasters from the past. There's like 20 taps, a couple differnent signs messily advertising the taps (currently lots of Russian River stuff), the specials (they had Perdition, Redemption, and Damnation), and daily specials (Exponential Hoppiness that day, but Pliny the Elder for 6/17). Looked like there was a bartender, 1 waitress and the cook. Stone Pale Ale, like 5 Russian Rivers, Alaskan Amber, Racer 5 IPA, Alpine pure and Exponential Hoppiness, Avery Imperial Stout... and a 2 page bottled beer list (more expensive than from a liquor store but only by a bit).

Service is better when you sit at the bar. The waitresses are well schooled in beer, and easy on the eyes too. We had the garlic fries which weren't all that good. This place must get busier on Fri/Sat. Great calm place to have kickass beer. Plus the locals are friendly. The other day I actually chatted with a local beergeek (alas, RateBeer) who had his beer notepad and everthing.

oggg, Jun 17, 2004
Photo of md655321
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

md655321, Jan 03, 2014
Photo of bultrey
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

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.

bultrey, Oct 25, 2004
Photo of joelambic
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

joelambic, Jun 18, 2014
Photo of ianroodt
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

ianroodt, May 10, 2014
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O'Brien's in San Diego, CA
97 out of 100 based on 140 ratings.