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John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House

Not Rated.
John Harvard's Brewery & Ale HouseJohn Harvard's Brewery & Ale House
Based on:
185 Beers
899 Ratings
Place Score: 83
Ratings: 96
Reviews: 81
rAvg: 3.63
pDev: n/a
Taps: 8
Bottles: --
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

33 Dunster St
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138
United States
phone: (617) 868-3585

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @johnharvards

Notes:  Master Beer Listing
Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 96 | Reviews: 81
Photo of Dicers
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of WheelsPSU
3.41/5  rDev -6.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.25

Stopped here before Harvard's home opener v Holy Cross in September. It was average. They had a beer from most styles on the menu and my wife and I both chose to go with the all seasonal harvest ale. Food was average. Cant go wrong with a burger but nothing to write home about.

Photo of DavidSomers
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.75

Photo of Sludgeman
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Visited in the 90's and have a pint glass to prove it

Photo of dabarton
2.5/5  rDev -31.1%

Photo of ricp215
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%

Photo of bluehende
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of tikk
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of harsley
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Photo of CAMay
4/5  rDev +10.2%

Photo of TheAnk
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of kevintaraross
3/5  rDev -17.4%

Photo of Doomcifer
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Photo of Mini4x
3/5  rDev -17.4%

Photo of bpfrush
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of bckayaalp
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Photo of MJSawyer
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of skepticus
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.75

I didn't read all the reviews, but IMHO it is very important to mention that John Harvard's (nee 33 Dunster St) was the _first_ (and still the only) brewpub in Harvard Square. It may have been the first brewpub in the state of Massachusetts for all I know. Like many other chains, the Harvard Square location was the first. (Au Bon Pain, Steve's, Herrell's, the Coop, etc....) So, I guess the question is, did they start this trend? Maybe. It might just be that the Cambridge Brewing Company would not have happened if John Harvard's had failed.

And it continues, as a reliable, albeit too busy, brewpub destination in the heart of Harvard Square, if bitten somewhat by the 'family-friendly' label.

Photo of orangesol
3.66/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Stopped in here for brunch after a bit of sight seeing over the weekend. Decent atmosphere with a large space. Long bar looking into the brewhouse with some TV's above it, a large dining area behind you. Quality was decent enough but nothing over the top. Selection was a good variety but nothing overly amazing. Service was ok, he forgot a few things I asked for but he seemed to have an ok beer knowledge. Since I was there for brunch I went with their platter. Eggs were not the greatest, I only finished about half of them, and their in house sausage was quite dry and rather bland. Decent pricing on the beer and food for the area. I had a cask ESB with my food, it was ok but it tasted a little dull. Overall an ok stop but I doubt I would return with so many other places in the area.

Photo of FightingEntropy
3.94/5  rDev +8.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

I've been to the JHBH in DC and wasn't very impressed, but the location right by mythic Harvard is a much better pub. Showed up right when they opened after touring (lurking about, actually) the campus and had a very nice stop. The bartender was chatty and informed, providing great conversation to go along with the samples.

The Demon DPA (Double Pale Ale) was the best--clean and hoppy with a resiny spine to hold it together. Very strong beer to compliment the rest of the line up, including one cask. Surprisingly, the Harvard Square Helles was my next favorite, in spite of not really being fan of the style. Very clean and balanced beer that I'm sure is popular with students, but nothing to shy away from as a beer geek. Always a good sign when a pub can do a light beer so clean. I didn't check out the eats in order to save room for a more vegetarian friendly restaurant later in the day. Overall, a surprisingly pleasant stop.

Photo of beenitty
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

This was one of the first places I truly started to appreciate beer.

Not the extreme beer geek's place of choice but if you want solid offerings and great food then this is your place. The good thing about JH is that they're always brewing different beers for every season.

Lots of different types of styles but most of their beers are ABV less than 8%. Thats not a criteria for good beer, but it adds to the variety of the offerings. Good thing about low ABV is that all their beers are super sessionable!

The food is really really good. Their menu doesn't really change from year to year but the food is solid. Definitely not your average bar food, good and affordable.

Not close to Cambridge Brewing Co., but a solid place to stop in and have a few pints.

Photo of Brad007
3.45/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

I hadn't planned on stopping here but since I got bad directions to another place (thanks Google Maps! Morons), I decided to wander into Cambridge and discovered this place.

The atmosphere isn't quite what I like but its tolerable. A bit warm and dank smelling place with lots of drab wood (perhaps a bit of stain would go a long way in brightening it up?). The smell bugs me as it reminds me of the basement at my parents house.

Beer quality is decent. I liked the pale ale. Selection is limited but that's ok because some places have too many beers to choose from. Solid examples of tried and true styles are what they seem to do best (and that's hardly a bad thing in the age of extreme beer).

Bartender was quick to take my order as the waitress seemed distracted. Forgivable as long as they acknowledge my presence. They were quick at first, which shows that they care.

Talking about selection, the beer list isn't much but they seem to have a decent grub menu balanced with a few foodie items. I'm sick of burgers so I ordered a spent-grain pizza instead.

Speaking of which, pizza was delicious. Honest and tasty with spent grains. Price was good too, which is a plus. If I wasn't so sick of burgers, I would have gone with one instead. A pleasant surprise.

Value? Pint prices are slightly cheaper and ditto on the food. The beer isn't really a draw though and that hurts the appeal. Still, if you want a break from the hectic Boston grind, it'll do.

Photo of mymadeline99
2.11/5  rDev -41.9%
vibe: 2 | quality: 1.5 | service: 4 | selection: 1

Stopped in for a quick one before a dinner reservation during my first visit to Boston. The place was dark and had a bit of a bad odor. They offer around six brews, but unfortunately, nothing for the IPA lover :( I had a pale ale and it was just okay. Kind of pricey too at $5 per pint. While their styles are pretty true to form, they are nothing special. I would not recommend this place to anyone who is a hop head because they have nothing to offer. I won't be back and would say to pass on this one.

Photo of FrankLloydMike
3.56/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4

I had gotten dinner here with my dad and brother several years ago, but only recently returned on a Wednesday night. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the atmosphere, which embraces its location in a basement with no windows. The place is large, but successfully divided into different areas with plenty of intimate nooks to keep it all interesting. Overall, the feel is of an old tavern, which is cozy and warm. Unfortunately, the bar table area (not the bar itself) began to fill up with a somewhat rowdy crowd more befitting a college frat bar than a brewpub. This is more what I had expected, perhaps unfairly, and makes me weary of returning on a busier night.

The quality of the brews was solid without being amazing. I had the ESB on cask, which was good but a little empty feeling. The range of styles on tap gave a lot of options, which was nice. Overall, the beers were a bit cheaper than most pints nearby and were available as full or half pints, which I always appreciate.

Perhaps because of the growing crowd, the service wasn't great. Our server didn't seem very knowledgeable about the beers and took forever to come by to ask if we wanted another round (we did when we finished our first, but by then we had changed our minds). She dropped the check and we put cash out but were waiting for change. When she never returned, we simply left the appropriate tip (not stiffing by any means, but less than we would have if we had change).

Overall, I really enjoy the space here and the convenience of its location. The beers were appropriately priced for their quality, and I'd like to come back, but it probably won't be a priority.

Photo of Pittsburgh
3.65/5  rDev +0.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I always liked this place when I was younger, this was pre beer Nirvana when I discovered what good beer was, but they always had a good selection, and the beer was pretty decent, not a bad atmosphere, food was ok, but a fun place to go with rotating beers being brewed. Service was ok, not the best. Usually easy to get a seat. I'd start with the sampler and then move on to whatever was tasting the best. Menu was changing alot as well, so it kept it interesting. Not the best beer in the world but serviceable for a brew pub.

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John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House in Cambridge, MA
83 out of 100 based on 96 ratings.