Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

4646 Convoy St
San Diego, California, 92111-2315
United States

(858) 715-1745 | map

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Reviews: 119 | Ratings: 161
Photo of damjadi
4.9/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

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Photo of rowew
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

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Photo of bultrey
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

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Photo of Shaw
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
4.85/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.78/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

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Photo of DrewBeechum
4.9/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

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!

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Photo of Dmann
5/5  rDev +13.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

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!

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Photo of oggg
4.78/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

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.

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Photo of ChappyCubsFan
4.63/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

My new favorite pub in San Diego. Until last weekend I had never been here before, but now I plan to be back soon. Now I see why so many BA's rave about this place. Being a hophead, I was immediately astonished by the concentration of IPA's. And the "Randall" device that they used to pour my Russian River IPA through was cool. It left flakes of hops in my glass. Truly amazing. There was even a bowl of fresh hops on the countertop (were they to munch on in case we couldn't already get enough hops?) The selection of beers was great. The food was OK, but what really stood out were the waitresses. They seemed to anticipate our every move...when we needed a refill; when we were about to spill our beer. Congratulations Mr. Nichols on a wonderful pub.

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Photo of KingSlender
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I have found my new favorite place in the Sandy Eggo area, and it's O'Briens!! I was luckily enough to visit this place during a visit down south to a few other microbreweries. O'Briens is the mecca for hop lovers. Alpine Pure Hoppiness, Hoptown IPA, DFH 120, Oggi's Hop Juice, and Santa Barbara's So F*#$ing hoppy just to name a few. They had one of Russian River's beers on a device called a "Randle" which looked like a bong of some sort. What a crazy (but oooh so wonderfull) device. The atmoshpere was very laid back and fun. Everybody that I talked to was very friendly and offered advice on the beers. I loved the cushy green recliners. If we'd stayed another hour I would have fallen asleep! Our waitress was excellent and even kindly replaced a spilt beer without charge. The food was OK. We settled for burgers which were not bad. I can't wait to get back here on my next excursion down to this area.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.55/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This is a great bar. 20 taps, full of mostly very hop-heavy beers. But if you're visiting to California, these are probably exactly the beers you're looking for! Lots of Stone, Alesmith, Ballast Point, and Alpine brews. And the bottle selection is very good too -- make sure you check their current list. I only wish you could buy them to go!

The owner knows his stuff when it comes to beer, and is often around. The waitstaff are friendly, and the food is good -- ask for the Stone Beer Cheese on the off-chance that they've got it. Otherwise the garlic fries are great, as is the blue cheese burger (just bring a few packets of breath mints). A small place, and often crowded, but definitely worth struggling for a seat.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

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.

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Photo of saskguy
4.58/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Like many of the other reviewers of this place, I was impressed with the large selection of great beers. I tried the 90 Minute IPA, Alpines Pure Hoppiness, Speakeyse Big Daddy, and HOptown IPA. Wish I had more time to sample the selections.

Do not let the strip mall location put you off, this is a great place to try beer in San Diego. As my time was limited, I was unable to sample the food or look at the Juke Box. Along with the Liars Club, San Diego has two of the best beer bars around.

The staff were great.

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Photo of Rumrunner
4.65/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

This is one awesome place to visit for beer! The owner(s) are dedicated to providing beers that will ensure a joyous beer experience.

O'Briens is located on the end of a mini mall in an area dominated by asian restaurants, shops, beauty parlors and automobile dealerships. Interesting location for a pub.

A bigger than small but not quite medium sized room is it. Coasters and bar towels are the primary decor on the walls and interior shingle overhang. A small bar to the left. Tables and chairs to the right. The chairs are office style and are quite comfortable. A big window in the front corner allows for soft natural lighting. There is a big screen in the corner and some small t.v.s for sports viewing. There are also a couple of dart boards. O'Briens has an outdoor patio which is a great spot to have a pint.

I found the food to be good. It depends on what is ordered. The cheese on bread was so so. My sandwich was very good. The fries are good and my girlfriend enjoyed her meal as well. Aside from the main menu they have a special menu written on a chalk board. These items change from time to time. They also carry Mike's Beer Cheese which is always a hit. The menu is pretty large and should accomodate everybody's tastes.

The service was excellent the day we visited. The bartenders were friendly, prompt and fun to talk to.

They have two menus for beer. The bottled selection which is where to find many of the imports they carry and the tap selection which is where to find the majority of the craft beers. Both selections are exceptional. There are about twenty taps. They carry plenty of locals. Pizza Port, Stone, Alpine, Alesmith and Ballast Point. From northern California they had Anderson Valley and Hoptown. They did not have Russian River but I was told they carry it on a regular basis. They also had Bear Republic and a few others. The taps rotate from time to time. The bottled selection had plenty of Belgians, domestic and other imports. I glanced over this list because I wanted the hoppy beers out of the taps. This place loves hops.

The cask sadly was empty when we were there. They do have special cask nights so check the web site or call them up and inquire. They will have special beer nights where they will represent a certain brewery.

Extra highly recommended. If you do not live in San Diego and are visiting definately stop by for a pint and good cheer.

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Photo of Gusler
4.55/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

What a cool place, some 20 taps with some exceptional beers, I had the Alpine Pure Hoppiness, what a "Hoot. Small and cozy with a great food line up, to be a 100 percent honest I did not have any food, but from what I saw and the wonderful aroma, that was a big mistake!

The bottle menu was exceptional with a great deal of local brews, some nice Belgians and domestics. Situated in a strip mall there's plenty of parking and it’s easily available from the interstate, and trust me "I'' Be Back"! For some food, and some of the many taps, I could only drool at, so if your in San Diego, this is a must stop!

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.44/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

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.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Atmosphere – This was terrific. It’s off at the end of a strip mall with a few chairs for outside seating out front. Inside it is cozy but very friendly. There’s a good line-of-sight for the TVs no matter where you sit.

Quality – They did this place up quite nicely. There’s nothing fancy to it, but it doesn’t exude “cheapness” like some other beer bars.

Service – I can’t say enough about the service. The place was pretty full and there was only one girl working there, but she managed to keep everyone happy.

Selection – They had an awesome selection of tapped and bottled beers. I hit up a few local brews to take in the flavor of the town (I was down on business), but they had a very good selection of choice IPAs and particularly Belgian Ales. How many bars can you go to and have a bottle of Rochefort 10?

Food – I had their famous spicy beer cheese burger, which was very sloppy and just as good.

Comments – This is a really nice place to go. There was an off-duty waitress there hanging with her friends. When the help come in on their days off you know it’s a neat place. Also, every time you buy a beer you get to roll fuzzy dice with the waitress. If you win you get a dollar off your drink. Cool!

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Photo of jcalabre
3.78/5  rDev -13.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Drove down to O'Briens (60+ miles) for the vertical tasting of Stone Old Guardian (99 thru 03) a few months back. It's a very small place at the end of a strip mall. I got there early & was able to get a place @ the bar. I don't envy anyone trying to get a beer there when it's crowded. They also have a nice outside area, if you smoke. The food is average, pub grub.
They have a great selection of taps. The atmosphere is nice and the staff was very friendly. I'd highly recommend this place.

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O'Brien's in San Diego, CA
Place rating: 4.39 out of 5 with 161 ratings