While at the Hess Brewing 2nd Anniversary Party, a few people suggested that I check this place out. I’m pretty familiar with the breweries around the San Diego area and had had a lot of beers from the bigger guys. However, I was told that this was the best place to go to find new things from the smaller brewers that are less heard of. In a beer mecca such as San Diego, it’s very easy to overlook certain breweries. That’s one of the reasons why I liked visiting this place.
O’Briens is located in a stripmall on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa / San Diego. It’s a very easy place to overlook because it’s in a strip mall on the side of the street surrounded by a sushi restaurant, a dry cleaner and other random strip-mall type stores. I actually had driven past a few times not sure if I was at the right place.
The inside isn’t anything special. It’s a typical bar with music playing and a lot of old, retro looking chairs set up at random tables across the place. I was there on a Saturday night and was surprised that it wasn’t packed. The bar is located on the left side and can seat roughly 20-25 people. There are about 20 taps and a jockey box with an additional 3 taps. Although I thought it was strange to have a jockey box set up in a bar, I couldn’t complain because it added more taps. I picked up a seat fairly quickly and got looking to see what they had to offer.
The people who told me about this place were right. The beer menu was completely based around San Diego and other California breweries. There were beers from Rough Draft, Alpine, Ballast Point, Russian River etc. and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to get. So many beers to taste, and I had to be mindful of my drive back downtown. Luckily, the bartender told me about their “ticket” option.
The ticket option is a way for the bar to give people multiple tasters – one at a time – in exchange for an advance ticket sale. Each ticket would get you a 4oz taster of most of the beers. There was only 1 beer that was on tap at the time (A barrel aged tripel from Rought Draft) which costed two tickets. This completely solved my problem and I wound up mostly trying stuff from Alpine and Rough Draft – with going for seconds and thirds for Alpine’s Nelson.
While there, I didn’t even look at the bottle list, but probably should have. After coming back from CA, I took a look at their website and saw that their bottle selection is just as good as their tap selection. I guess I’ll know this for next time.
I ordered some nachos with chicken while drinking my samplers. It was pretty much standard bar food – which was exactly what I had expected. It was very solid, but nothing crazy. I didn’t need much else to make me happy while there since the beer was enough. After finishing the samplers, I decided to head back downtown. There were still a few stops I wanted to make that night and couldn’t devote much more time here.
I’d really recommend this spot to those looking to try beers from some of the smaller breweries in the San Diego area. The tickets were definitely the way to go with it too. After leaving, I felt fulfilled from trying close to half of the tap list and a lot of beers that I’ve never heard of before. In total, I wound up spending less than $25 and had a great time.
O’Brien American Pub
4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111