Best beer bar in San Diego?

Discussion in 'Pacific' started by Nordstrand, Mar 20, 2012.

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  1. Nordstrand

    Nordstrand Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2011 Virginia

    Please direct me to some Pliney or a place with Russian River beers on tap? Live in DC so am geeked to try as many west coast IPAs as possible. Saying in the Hilton Bayfront so will be close to the Gas Lamp Quarter.

  2. John_M

    John_M Moderator (5,590) Oct 25, 2003 France
    Beer Trader

    I'm sure you'll get lots of recommendations from locals, but I know when I visited a year or so back, O'briens and Hamiltons really stood out. In terms of RR beers, the Torondado typically has at least a couple on tap, and if you have access to a car, consider visiting Stone as well (they have a great selecton of guest taps in the restaurant, and frequently have pliny on tap there as well - Stone is the distributor for RR beers in SoCal I believe). Good luck!

    All that aside, you'll probably have more luck with your question and your quest if you post this in the Pacific forum.
    NoSignsOfPain likes this.
  3. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Toronado is your best bet. San Diego gets a pretty good supply of PtE so most beer bars most likely will have it on. If you're down on the bay you should check the tap lists at Neighborhood and Downtown Johnny Browns as those are you closest. There's also 2 bottle shops downtown, Best Damn Beer Store and the joint in Little Italy, Bottle Craft.

    If you have a car and want to drive, 30th St is your next stop. in the South Park/North Park Adams area you have (south to north) Hammiltons, Toronado, Live Wire, Small Bar, Tiger! Tiger! and Blind Lady. Plus other sit down places that have better food and smaller tap lists.

    Breweries in your area will be Coronado Brewpub (across the bay), Monkey Paw Brewpub (excellent house beers and a ton of guests), Ballast Point on Linda Vista Rd, Mission brewing, somehwere downtown, Five Points, north of downtown, and Alpine way out east. Stone and Alpine are about the same distance from down town, 45-50mins w/o traffic. If you drive north you open up a ton more breweries and that's a whole other thread.

    I'd personally stick to just downtown/central San Diego. Almost all bars have updated tap lists on their websites, so check them out.
    NoSignsOfPain likes this.
  4. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Oh yeah, and in Ocean Beachs there's Olive Tree Market (tasting room and bottle shop), Newport Pizza (good draft list) and Pizza Port OB, GABF's Small Brewery of the Year, amazing house beers, great pizza and a ton of guest beers.
    NoSignsOfPain likes this.
  5. Nordstrand

    Nordstrand Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2011 Virginia

    Thank you guys - sounds like I will be at Toronado's within an hour of landing Friday evening. Am there for a few days so will hit up the other ones too. Am so tempted to rent a car and go out to Stone's in Escondido but that not a trip I'd want to drive after...

    Many many thanks
  6. John_M

    John_M Moderator (5,590) Oct 25, 2003 France
    Beer Trader

    If you go to the Toronado, then consider stopping by Hamilton's as well. I think they're just a couple of miles apart, and if memory serves, it's pretty much right on your way to the Toronado.

    I really liked the Toronado, but Hamilton's was probably my favorite beer bar when last I visited. Regardless, you're sure to have a good time. Good luck!
  7. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    Since you will be in the gas lamp area I highly recommend The Neighborhood. This could be your stumble home bar after a night cap or 4. I also really like this place for lunch. It is a lot calmer and their lunch menu is amazing (The spicy tuna sandwich is awesome).

    Also great places in the downtown area are Downtown Johnny Browns and Monkey Paw.

    The Neighborhood has PtE on tap now and the other places have some great San Diego hoppy beers, such as GF Palate Wrecker, Alpine O'Brien's IPA, Coronado Idiot, Ballast Point Fathom....
  8. BrianTheBrewer30

    BrianTheBrewer30 Aspirant (211) Nov 17, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Toronado is my favorite place. Hamiltons, O'Brien's and Neighborhood follow.
    COBeerBuff likes this.
  9. Ndfan1323

    Ndfan1323 Initiate (0) Jan 26, 2012 California

    I just got back last monday from San Diego and went to Hamiltons Tavern and Pliny the Younger was on tap friday and wiped off the Board in about 2 hrs and so was Blind Pig but Elder was around both friday and saturday on tap!!!
  10. Nordstrand

    Nordstrand Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2011 Virginia

    What kind of time frame is the Pliney usually available? Think 7ish is too late?
  11. pinkgrenade

    pinkgrenade Aspirant (245) Aug 19, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    pizza port ob, hamiltons, monkey paw... and stone, for a a drive and a great experience. you can search for on tap things here (not always accurate though!)
  12. Ndfan1323

    Ndfan1323 Initiate (0) Jan 26, 2012 California

    I got there exactly 730pm and I only know cause the food doesnt open till 8!!
  13. pinkgrenade

    pinkgrenade Aspirant (245) Aug 19, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    its not really likely you will be finding younger anymore. that was the last keg that hamiltons had too :slight_smile:
  14. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    There's no reason to drive all the way out to stone just to drink beer. Hammies/Toro and the rest of the central San Diego bars will all have what they have on tap. It's too far and getting wasted and driving back is a bad idea. That 50min cab ride is going to cost you dearly. Likewise O'Briens has fewer taps (24) than Toro's 50 and is in the middle of no-where with a horrible parking lot.

    From Toro you can walk around the block to Tiger!Tiger!, and a very short drive away is Small Bar, Blind Lady or Live Wire. Hammies is just a few miles south, but gets crazy crowded. Which is why I don't enjoy going there anymore, but it is fun.

    You won't find PtY anymore, and PtE/Blind Pig will always be on tap, it's not a special release, we get a ton of kegs in this city.
  15. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    that is somewhat true. To just drink beers, no Stone isn't worth the hike. However, the Stone Bistro is more than just the beer (which is great with theirs and all the guest beer), the building and grounds are great, the tour is fun, and the food is really good. Plus if he makes a trek up to Stone he can stop by Lost Abbey/Port and Churchills.
  16. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Lot of drinking and driving... Stone grounds are pretty cool, the menu is pretty frou-frou and again, there's usually nothing on tap there you can't get elsewhere. I'd check the website to see what's on tap before comitting to that long ass drive. Yes there is more up there other than stone, but again, lot of drinkin and driving. Churchills is just another bar, I find their tap list average at best. The reason to go up there is to visit the breweries, and there are a lot of them now.
  17. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    True it is a good amount of driving, hopefully if the OP does go he has a DD, drinks smart or has some other method of transportation. With someone visiting SD I think Stone is a fun experience, it is different than all other breweries.
    I don't know what you mean by frou-frou. If you mean unique, thought out, and well prepared meals, then yes. Just like it can be said we drink frou-frou beer, though we like to simply call it good beer, I feel the same about Stone's food. The use only fresh ingredients and try to create fun dishes. I highly recommend their spicy mussels, a good price and nothing Frou-Frou about it.

    I also enjoy the food at Churchill's, it is great English food. I do not think their tap list is average. Sure they will have some average beers on tap, but with 40+ taps, there is bound to be some great stuff. What they have on now is amazing. Plus, the OP can try Churchill's Finest Hour (on site bottles)

    OP: if you are crunched for time or transportation and just looking for some great beer during down time, then I do recommend staying near downtown and North Park. However, if you are on vacation and are looking for fun beer events, then I recommend spending a day in North County. As MacNCheese mentioned, there are a bunch of great breweries up there in-addition to the two I mentioned.
    DrAwkward82 likes this.
  18. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Stone is far from one of the best breweries in SD anymore. They became stagnant and stale as they expended everything else. Hell, they're building a HOTEL. No reason to go to North County on a short trip unless you plan to visit breweries, and there are enough on along 8 and the Miramar/Mira Mesa corridors to keep you beyond busy.

    I'd stick local, everything you want you'll be able to find closer to downtown.
  19. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    It should be noted that Stone's tap selection is currently reduced as they are expanding their lines (or something). I was up there last Friday and they had only a few regular beers on tap. Their saving grace is that their bottle list is extensive, and actually pretty inexpensive compared to other places.

    I would not go to Stone for Stone Beer. I'd go there to enjoy the food, the cool restaurant, a bruery tour and the gardens. I'd order bottled beer from somewhere else with my food.

    As MacNCheese said, the only reason to drive that far is if you wanted to hit a bunch of breweries. You could have a great time (and get absolutely trashed) going to Green Flash, Alesmith, Ballast Point, Stone, Iron Fist, Port, and Pizza Port in one big loop, but then you'd be drunk and in North County. I've done it's fantastic, and exhausting (and we had a DD.) Your time is better spent locally if you are driving yourself.
  20. BrianTheBrewer30

    BrianTheBrewer30 Aspirant (211) Nov 17, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Stone is a bit out of the way. If you have never been though and are in the SD area it is worth the drive. Stone is a beautiful brewery. The evening is wonderful there sitting around one of the fire pits enjoying a beer. You also dont have to go there and get drunk and drive you can have a beer or two and be on your way.
    nanobrew likes this.
  21. bastu

    bastu Initiate (0) May 5, 2011 Tennessee

    If you do rent a car, go out to Alpine. Get a 6 taster flight, eat some BBQ, and buy some bombers to take back to the hotel.
    JMF and BrianTheBrewer30 like this.
  22. DrAwkward82

    DrAwkward82 Initiate (55) Apr 16, 2005 California

    If you're there for a few days, I'd definitely say Stone is worth your time. It may not be the most impressive draft list in town anymore, but it's an icon of the SD beer scene.

    You don't have to drink a crazy amount to enjoy the beautiful space and the fantastic food, and if you want to hit any of the other beer spots nearby, IIRC Churchill's, Green Flash and Lost Abbey all allow you to order any of their drafts in taster size.
  23. JMF

    JMF Initiate (0) Mar 10, 2012 California

    I will always love Obriens. Hard to beat the Beer Cheeseburger and Onion Rings washed down with some great local taps and extensive bottle list :slight_smile:
  24. Nordstrand

    Nordstrand Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2011 Virginia

    Great ideas all around gang. Thank you for the helpful suggestions. It looks like we are too busy with work to get out to Stone and are going to focus on the Gas Lamp/Downtown. Will definitely hit the Neighborhood, Hamilton's, Toronado's, O'brien's, and check out the Best Damn Beer Store. Really my goal is to sample lots of west coast IPAs (and finally try some Pliney) - sounds like that can be accomplished easily at these places. If anyone is ever heading to DC and wants some suggestions please shoot me a message.
  25. mrkrispy

    mrkrispy Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2006 California

    If you are staying downtown check out Monkey Paw and Downtown Johnny Browns. Monkey Paw will be far more manageable than Hamilton's which gets extremely busy/over packed/nuts to butts.

    Neighborhood gets really busy weekend nights also, just a heads up. O'briens isn't near downtown (about a 20 minute drive) and doesn't have anything else around it if you are trying to stay in one area.

  26. mrkantz

    mrkantz Initiate (0) Apr 3, 2010 California

    Toronado and Alpine are the only places you really need to go.
    COBeerBuff and BrianTheBrewer30 like this.
  27. johndoe8

    johndoe8 Initiate (143) Jun 9, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    you're such a fan boy. go away.
    mrkantz likes this.
  28. Weezerfenix

    Weezerfenix Initiate (0) Feb 21, 2011 California

    You can also check out the stone company store in south park for bottles and tasters of stone
  29. pinkgrenade

    pinkgrenade Aspirant (245) Aug 19, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    yeah you can!
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