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O'Brien's

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

146 Ratings
Ratings: 146
Reviews: 116
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 8.88%
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: 146 | Reviews: 116 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of slander
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Oh, that’s what he meant by ‘green cushy chairs’, but I digress. Stupid, badly hungover mornfternoon, but feeling better with a little Ballast Point tasting room time in me (and breakfast didn’t hurt). Back in town, this strip mall of crazy, and parking, more so, hunted out (Thought we might scrap for that little piece of real estate where we dropped the car). And up there in the corner, the this...

Small small surprisingly small place. Straight wood bar to the left seating 8 on green leather stools, and a service corner up front. A center logo mirror on barback center over a row of 20 taps, and glassware shelved to the left with some giant chalice & tulip pieces, with more down below. Belgian Independence Day flaggings line above, and mug club mugs hooked running the length from a bar overhang in roofing shingle wood exterior. A collection of O’B shirts displayed up there, with an American flag on one end and a Houblon Chouffe banner on the other.

Crappy drop ceiling above chateauesque crossbeams lined with coasters, angled from the walls up (left over from the days of the old german deli once occupying this space), and holding baby spots and a few spinnys, too. Brackish flooring tiles, and green walls bar back, rear & side, pasted with brewery tins, signage, & mirrorage. Flats in 3 corners, and on the rear wall, too. Hey, the Yankees are on this early afternoon Saturday (‘cause they’re playing the dirty Angels). Light bar counter space to the rear with a few jerobaums on the end next to the dartboard, below drop wand single bulbs overhead. Seating riddle adbout, nearly a dozen tables in all. Recs along the perimeter and roundies in a row off the bar, nicely green cushy chaired up; I can nap here. Large windows up front and the forward side over the wraparound porch, with plastic tables & chairs, a dozen or so, offering views of more street parking. I’d rather chill inside.

Horizontal board over a kitchen peek-a-boo opening to the left of the bar listing taps and a few bottle specials, and pricing, by style color coded (local/craft, specialty, strong, Belgian, Euro), by pint & pitcher, so you don’t go in color blind for what’s what. 20 taps, nearly all of it regional California craft beer (Port Hop 15, Green Flash West Coast IPA, Ballast Point Sculpin, Firestone Walker Double Jack, Bear Republic Racer 5, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Sudwerk Pilsner, Alpine Nelson IPA & McIlhenney’s Irish Red, Russian River Blind Pig & Redemption, Monkey Paw Oatmeal Pale Ale, Low & Slow Rauchbier, Downs Family Irish Stout, Sweet Georgia Brown, Mandrill IPA, & Rich Man’s IIPA), save the 2 random imports (Aecht Schlenkerla Fest Bier, Smithwick’s Kilkenny Irish Red). I drank an Alpine Nelson IPA, having missed it kicked at the Real Ale Festival, Carlsbad, just yesterday.

And a bottled list of 50+. Oh wait, it’s a front page and there is another. And more. The list runs from 1-251+ (1-60 Belgian ales, 61-75 Belgian fruit beer, 76-90 sours, 91-140 non Belgian imports, 141-250 domestic ales, 251+ mead), and includes large format, magnums, etc. (another 31+ more). Benchmark Orval runs a cool $8, but the Russian River & Lost Abbey selections; you know, some of this is quite pricey.

Killer goddamn tap list, and the food does look reeeally good but we’re in between those hours. Good house, fun, playful ‘tenders, and lots of regulars. And babies. I could do a lot of time here if I had a lot of time here. Very much so do dig.

slander, Jul 12, 2012
Photo of Billolick
4.28/5  rDev -2.5%

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.

Billolick, Aug 15, 2006
Photo of DoubleJ
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%

When I look back at my 20's, I'm going to remember a number of things; college graduation, trips to Brazil, life on my own, a taste for beer. Not far off that list will be "Why did it take me more than seven years to visit O'Briens?" Although I've lived an hour north, I found time to make a few beer-related trips to San Diego each year, but each time bouncing pass O'Brien's.

But finally, that moment happened. Brazukas from overseas in town, and they're ready to drink the town dry of hops. In a strip mall filled with Asian eateries, O'Brien's look out of place. There was no parking inside the strip mall, so that meant parking on the street. I was worried that all the cars were driven by thirsty beer drinkers, but on a Thursday night, there was still ample space to crawl around and find our own seats at the bar. Somewhat darkly lit inside, lovely Belgian beer glassware visible behind the counter, beer signage pasted on the walls, a marker board posting special events, and even pimping its own special beer trip to Europe, you can tell there's a love for beer at O'Brien's.

Choosing a beer was another challenge, as two dozen fun beers were pouring from tap, two casks, and a bottle list filled with lovely Belgians. We were lucky to hit on the night of fresh hop ales, as it looked that one of my mates reached a hop orgasm before the night was through. Beers from Ballast Point, Bell's, Artifex, Nickel, Rochefort, Tripel Karmeliet, all available and (of the beer I tasted ) in excellent shape. Perhaps the one small flaw I can think of involves those boring shaker pint glasses

On par with the beer was the service, which was not only knowledgeable, but quick and enthusiastic to serve. I also snuck in time for some food. Food is simple but tasty (garlic fries, nachos, sausage & cheese plate), further putting O'Brien's into legendary status.

Can't decide which brewery to visit? Just visit O'Brien's instead. It's certainly better than feeling undecided to which brewery to visit next!

DoubleJ, Oct 13, 2014
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%

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 Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -14.6%

Sammy, Jan 17, 2014
Photo of Dogbrick
4.28/5  rDev -2.5%

O'Brien's is a small pub on the end cap of a strip mall off Balboa avenue, pretty much between the 805 and CA-163. The parking lot is fairly large but it is difficult to find a spot during peak times.

The space is relatively small with the bar along the left side and seating on the right. There is also a small patio. O'Brien's has an impressive collection of coasters tacked to their support beams. They also have a pet fish in a Chimay glass.

The beer selection is impressive, especially considering how small the bar is. The draught list includes beers from Stone, Russian River, Craftsman, Alaskan, Alpine, New Belgium, and others. A couple of the beers seemed to be limited in nature too. The bottle list seemed impressive too, with at least 100 beers available.

Service was good on a weekday early dinner. The bartenders were efficient and knew their beers.

No complaints about the pub grub either. My burger was tasty and enjoyable.

Overall it took me a few trips to SD to get around to visiting something other than a brewpub but I am glad I had a chance to make it here. I would absolutely visit here on return trips just to see what interesting new beers are available.

Dogbrick, Aug 12, 2008
Photo of John_M
4.13/5  rDev -5.9%

Another exceptional beer bar in San Diego.

O'brien's pub struck me as a particularly odd looking establishment, located in an even odder location. It's located in the burbs, in a strip mall with quite a few other hole in the wall restaurants and shops. Like some of its peers in the strip mall, O'brien's is a very small establisment... surprisingly small in my mind. As one walks in, there is a straight bar running to the back and left side of the dininig room, seating maybe 10 patrons. The rest of the beer bar is a crowded mish-mash of tables and chairs, holding I would guess another 30 customers. The place has a cramped, crowded vibe, and atmosphere is clearly not what one goes looking for at O'brien's. As for the quality and selection at O'brien's, it's clearly top notch, and undoubtedly explains the place's popularity. I'd guess there was close to 30 beers on tap, with the selectoin first rate. Not surprisingly, the inside and outside tables were packed on an early Friday evening, with folks sucking down the likes of Pliny, Blind Pig, Bernardus x-mas, gouden carolus noel, etc. To say the least, the line-up here is nothing short of exceptional. Service is pretty good considering the crowd and cramped quarters. The 3 women tending bar and waiting tables were for the most part friendly and efficient, which was difficult given the size of the crowd. Food is so-so, but at least it's cheap and the portions good size. Don't expect a gourmet dining experience here and you'll probably be satisfied with the food at O'brien's. Prices are very reasonable; so much so that I was concerned the waitress had forgotten to charge me for part of my order.

This is a very good, solid place. Despite its shortcomings, I quite liked O'brien's, and wouldn't hesitate to come here again. As others have mentioned, I just wish finding parking wasn't such a complete pain in the ass in the smallish parking lot.

John_M, Dec 20, 2008
Photo of GJ40
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

I stopped in for a visit while in San Diego on vacation.

The atmosphere and decor are nothing special. I knew it was in a strip mall but I expected a little more inside. Not necessarily something authentic or high end but something more inspiring. The cushioned office chairs are a nice attempt but they just make seating in the small space a bit awkward.

But you don't go to a great beer bar primarily for the atmosphere. The draft beer selection was outstanding. They had 20+ great choices including some from Russian River, Alpine, Ballast Point and Bear Republic. We had RR PtE and Alpine Exponential Hoppiness.

The women behind the bar were very nice and helpful. And the prices were very reasonable ($4-5/pint).

The only downside was that we hit them while their plumbing was out. So the restrooms were overflowing and the kitchen was closed down. I heard it happens occasionally. It certainly shortened our stay.

O'Brien's could use a more atmosphere but they have a great selection of beer so it's well worth a visit.

GJ40, Aug 16, 2009
Photo of sholland119
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%

Well, you'd never stumble upon this place, unless you were buying a car across the street or something. Fortunately we were seeking it out. O'Brien's is located in a nondescript strip center north of town. We stopped on our way back to town after stopping in at Green Flash.

There is a long bar inside the door on the left, with a bunch of table crammed in on the right. The oversized leather office chairs appear to have been reclaimed from the set of Glengarry Glen Ross. Comfortable enough but between the oversized chairs and wheels, moving around with a beer in hand can be an adventurous proposition. There is also an enclosed porch with some PVC tables and chairs.

Once you get a post though, this is a cool place to be. About 20 taps with great stuff. We were there during SDBW and the event of the day was Kern River. About 6 KR taps were flowing, and a bunch of other local delicious craft beers.

Service is very pleasant. As is true of so many places here, counter service only, with exactly one line for food, beer or food and beer. It can slow things down but the people are quite nice. I enjoyed our stop here.

HV

sholland119, Jan 20, 2012
Photo of Yetiman420
4.44/5  rDev +1.1%

I did a three day brewery, brewpub, beer bar tour of San Diego which included a Saturday early afternoon stop at O'Brien's.

As a person who has absolutely no use for Irish bars, I was glad to see O'Brien's had nothing in common with the pedestrian beer selections of Irish American pubs.

The interior is small with comfy leather office chairs that I felt take up more room than necessary given the small size of the corner location with plenty of window and outdoor seating.

I sat at the bar and while I didn't chat anyone up, one could easily become friends with the other patrons.

It was Saturday and I was hoping to catch some college footall but instead they were showing a soccer match and there were mostly soccer fans inside. I had to hold myself to one beer because I accidentaly ordered a IIPA, Alpine Pure Hopiness, and wanted to limit myself because I was driving.
They had Russian River sours and plenty of beers on their bottle list.

Yetiman420, Oct 18, 2010
Photo of yemenmocha
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%

I loved the atmosphere and demographics here. I fit in just fine - mid life, beer gut, out of style clothes, and a hoppy beer in my hand. Finally a great beer bar where most of the patrons are not Millennials!

Comfy chairs looked like they were right out of a bowling alley tavern, with a small dartboard area at the back. Seating area was tiny, but, well this is a tiny bar.

Service and food were rather average. No frills, no smiles, just sort of a "yeah what do you want?".

However, the tap list was among the best in San Diego. Over one HALF of the taps were IPA's or DIPA's. Unbelievable! Almost nothing for the person who likes reduced-flavor beers (maybe Duvel Green). No macros, no American wheats... just real beer.

yemenmocha, Apr 02, 2010
Photo of aoampm
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

aoampm, Sep 09, 2014
Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.44/5  rDev +1.1%

Strongly recommended to me by xlperro and EyeChartBrew, this was a great stop for beer. Located in a small strip shopping center in the midst of many Eastern ethnic food spots this great little bar/pub sports a great setting and great beer choices. In addition to some really strong draft choices from SoCal's best IPA brewers, the bottled choices were equally impressive with Double Bastard being a recent arrival and the same promised on tap within the week.

Sports TV is big here and the nice outside wraparound deck looked appealing for nice evenings and sunny afternoons. Lots of beeriana and beer coasters line the ceiling and walls. The bartender was super efficient, knowledeable, and was obviously well-liked by all the regulars whom he knew by name and preference. One of my best stops in San Diego.

AtLagerHeads, Nov 09, 2003
Photo of UncleJimbo
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%

O'Brien's is a really great beer bar, and I am glad I had the opportunity to visit with a fellow BA during a recent trip to the San Diego area.

The interior is somewhat different. The bar is on the left as you enter, and the floor space has tables but instead of typical bar chairs, theare are rolling, swiveling, green office type chairs. An interesting touch. There are stools at the bar. The floor is red brick tile. The ceiling has accoustical tiles and ceiling fans. The walls and ceiling beams are decorated with a multitude of beer coasters. There are at least 4 TVs, one of which is a big screen TV, great for watching football.

As for the beer selection, it is excellent. I counted 20 taps, and all were craft beers, many from California. About 50 bottled beers are available, and many (most?) are Belgians. This is the kind of beer bar where you have a hard time deciding what to have next because the choices are so good.

I only sampled a bit of the food, but the highlight for me was the beer cheese made with Stone beer and various additives such as Habanero pepper (try the Napalm version). Very tasty. The garlic fries are also excellent, but they are covered in raw garlic which will "stick with you" for quite some time.

This is a great place with a comfortable, homey feel, and you can tell the owner/proprietor is a beer lover. A must-see if you are in the area.

UncleJimbo, Feb 14, 2004
Photo of BillRoth
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

BillRoth, Oct 16, 2013
Photo of rousee
3.48/5  rDev -20.7%

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.

rousee, Jun 01, 2006
Photo of Deuane
4.51/5  rDev +2.7%

Not called the Hoppiest Place on earth for nothing! This place is a hopheads paradise. The weakest thing they had on tap at the time of our visit was Sudwerk's Lager. This place didnt have a mass produced beer in sight. 19 taps with 2 beer engines to boot, nice!

A small place overall with limited outdoor seating. Ten bar seats about the same amount of tables and an overall laid back vibe. Not the most inspirational of places...but then take a look at the taps!

Our tender of for the night, Micaela, was very nice and attentive to us. We never sat with an empty beer. She was always on top of us when things started to get low in our pints!

Visited late in the eve so food was not on our radar, until we left. BUt, some local folk were nice enough to give us some suggestions about nearby Mexican take out places.

All in all a MUST stop if beercationing in the SD area. You better love the hops though as that is what O'Brien's is all about!

Deuane, Sep 14, 2008
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.98/5  rDev -9.3%

I made my way to O'Brien's for the Russian River -tion night with some other BAs. The place was super packed so we sat on the patio and had to fight for chairs from other tables one by one. The beers are listed on a whiteboard right near the register as well as a printed bottle list that is quite extensive. Service was pretty average but due to the event it made sense. The selection of beers was great, especially for the Russian River event. They also had O'Brien's anniversary beers on tap from Alpine and Societe. I got a burger to soak up some of the beer and that was quite good. Prices are pretty reasonable in my opinion. Worth a stop for sure.

UCLABrewN84, Jan 27, 2013
Photo of Floydster
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%

Stopped here at the end of the night yesterday and one thing in my mind, having a Russian River IPA finally; I did and it was good, even though nothing compared to Pliny the Elder or Blind Pig

Located at the end of a shopping center next to a car dealership in a pretty industrial area

Had about twenty-five taps and an extensive bottle list

Really chill place where everyone is just relaxing and having a good time, not too crazy

Standouts on tap were Stone 11th, two Craftsman brews, a hard to find Ballast Point draft called Even Keel, a couple Russian Rivers, and some interesting Belgians

They had two casks: Alesmith X and the Ballast Point mentioned above

Great place, but I do not know whether I could say it is better than the PB Tap Room or Liars Club, I find them all to be about equal

Look forward to going back to this place in the future though to try some more hard to find brews and local San Diego draft-onlys

Highly recommended

Floydster, Sep 29, 2007
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.83/5  rDev -12.8%

Bar at the end of a strip mall type setting. Arrangement inside is kinda cluttered for what it is. Lots of soccer shit and pub stuff on the walls, seemed like a TGIFridays that went through an English vibe. Some horrible tuffman contest stuff (i.e. fat guys with boxing gloves on) on the television, I may have enjoyed some malnutritioned futbol instead.

Bar service occurs only at the corner of the bar, which can be beneficial, but creates kind of a cluster at the entrance. Selection was kinda lacking I thought for what they had on tap. Decent bottle list, leans Euro more than the tap list that leans ipa heavy. Was hoping for more Alpine beers on tap, ended up having the only one available, O'Brien's ipa, which was good, but not the equal of other Alpine ipas.

Draft prices are great.

Beerandraiderfan, Jun 02, 2011
Photo of Goldorak
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%

Décor is pretty sub-par, a cross between a fake Irish/sports bar and some kind of cheesy 70’s style airport lounge, the kind the pilots patronize in order to get liquored up between flights. Those cushioned seats at the tables were really comfortable though, and seemed in excellent shape. English premier league footy on the tube, extra points for that.

Good selection at the taps, a lot of locals represented and plenty of hop bombs. I went for one of those first, no complaints about quality here and decent prices. It was only when I hit the bathroom that I got to see the bottle menu posted on the wall, where my jaw dropped so low I had urinal cake stuck on my goatee. Aged Beers, rare one-offs, Barrel aged Alesmiths (the ones people on this site are willing to trade their own mothers for), lambics (pricey, but a lot of hard to find ones) and a slew of high quality imports that run the gamut of every Beer-lover’s taste buds. I must have banged my head on the table a dozen times looking over the list. Why, oh why was I stuck with the car, therefore I couldn’t have more than a pint or two? It did mention on it that you could take Beer to go, so I figured okay, I won’t be able to drink it here but at least I can take some home. 35$ for a BA Speedway stout? It’s quite a hit to the wallet but it’ll be worth it just to see the looks on the local crew when I nonchalantly pop it open at a tasting…But my fantasy was quickly thwarted by the waitress who informed me that not only I couldn’t buy it, but neither could I get any of the rare/aged Beers on the list too. And I could only walk away with one (1) Beer. Ugh. And since I was alone with the car, forget about knocking back a 750ml of 12%ABV Impy stout. They even ran out of T-Shirts so no souvenir. It was with a heavy heart that I left. I wanted to return but it just wasn’t in the cards this time around. A cab ride from my hotel by the beach would have been too prohibitive.

Strange indeed, an Irish-style bar in what seems to be a Korean neighborhood sandwiched between two freeways, far from everything. But hot damn, do they ever have a great Beer selection here!

Goldorak, Oct 12, 2006
Photo of Todd
4.74/5  rDev +8%

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!

Todd, Apr 03, 2005
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.3/5  rDev -2.1%

I moved to the San Diego area (La Jolla-UTC to be exact) about two months ago, and since then I've visited O'Brien's Pub on at least three different occasions. I've been very happy with my experiences there so far, and I plan on visiting much more in the coming years, especially given how close it is to my house.

While it doesn't offer many TV's, O'Brien's is known locally as one of the city's finest soccer pubs. When I first arrived in San Diego, local news stories about the US women's World Cup run were being broadcast from O'Brien's. While I haven't watched any soccer matches there yet, it seems like it'd be a fun thing to do in the near future. The interior of O'Brien's is decorated to look like an English sports pub: dim lighting, long wooden bar, firkin handles, a somewhat dungeon-like atmosphere, and walls coated in flags and pennants. They also have a large outdoor area (where I've sat each time thus far) that doesn't offer anything besides plastic patio furniture, which is all you need when it's 70 degrees and sunny outside. I love it!

When it comes to service, don't expect to be waited on. The waitresses deliver food dishes and bus tables, but don't take orders. Patrons must place their food and beer orders at the bar. The bartenders and waitresses are very friendly though, when my friend accidentally spilled her freshly ordered beer, a waitress replaced it free of charge.

And now for the most important part: the beer. Of the dozen or so beer bars I've visited since moving here, this may have the best local selection. You can almost always find two Alpine beers on-tap, and I've spotted one-off releases from Green Flash, Stone, and Ballast Point (e.g. Habañero Sculpin on cask). The beer selection also offers a wide variety of styles, including imperial stouts, barleywines, and sours (typically Flanders red or oud bruin). The bottle list is also very impressive and reasonably priced. Whatever your mood, you'll find the beer(s) you want.

The food menu consists of standard pub grub: burgers, sandwiches, wings, fries, etc. Everything I've had is very tasty and goes great a beer or two.

This may not make the itinerary for first-time visitors, but it's an absolute must if you're staying in San Diego for more than a few days.

ThreeWiseMen, Aug 28, 2011
Photo of Loki
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%

Finally getting around to my long overdue review.

Great beer place in the middle of a strip mall. (I knew I was in SoCal when I saw the restaurant four doors down called ToFu World)

Atmosphere: Part local dive bar, part beer geek bar. Mostly local bar vibe from what I gathered. With that comes with putting up with the local drunk, but hey I'm sure I've been that guy before.

Quality: I think all the drafts were local beers when I was there. Oh and SD has a ton of good local beers. Later that week they were going to tap two Sculpin dry hopped casks.

Service: Pretty good, no complaints, quick, and attentive.

Selection: lots of quality draft choices, I do think I even bothered to look for a bottle list.

Food: Food was ok, nothing great, but certainly not bad. I would have no problems eating there again.

Loki, Nov 12, 2009
Photo of flexabull
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%

In the middle of a strip mall, kind of dull on the inside with a few people outside, and only a handful inside. I soon found out why, it was burning up inside. Where is the AC?

Quality was very good. Nothing but the best here, the tap list was amazing. If I didn't have other things to do, or other places to go, I could have had quite a few pints here. Oh, and the heat inside was a bit of a turn off though...

Service was good. The girl that helped me was quick and pleasant.

Selection was very good, at least 30 something taps, with a nice mix of locals and imports.

All in all... it's very nice place, with an excellent tap list. But I am not sure why it is as highly rated as Hamilton's or Toronado though, the atmosphere just seemed lacking. (maybe hitting it on a Monday after work was the problem...)

flexabull, Apr 23, 2009
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O'Brien's in San Diego, CA
97 out of 100 based on 146 ratings.