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John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House

Not Rated.
John Harvard's Brewery & Ale HouseJohn Harvard's Brewery & Ale House
BA SCORE
83
good

88 Ratings
Ratings: 88
Reviews: 79
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 12.33%
Active Beers: 208
Beer Ratings: 915
Beer Avg: 3.55
Taps: 8
Bottles: 0
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

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

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @johnharvards

Notes:
(Master Beer Listing) None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 88 | Reviews: 79 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of harsley
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

harsley, Oct 08, 2014
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4/5  rDev +9.6%

CAMay, Sep 29, 2014
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3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

TheAnk, Sep 16, 2014
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3/5  rDev -17.8%

kevintaraross, Sep 01, 2014
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3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Doomcifer, Aug 10, 2014
Photo of Mini4x
3/5  rDev -17.8%

Mini4x, Jul 23, 2014
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3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

bpfrush, Jun 24, 2014
Photo of bckayaalp
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

bckayaalp, Jan 25, 2014
Photo of MJSawyer
3.25/5  rDev -11%

MJSawyer, Dec 03, 2013
Photo of skepticus
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%

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.

skepticus, Aug 08, 2013
Photo of orangesol
3.66/5  rDev +0.3%

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.

orangesol, May 29, 2013
Photo of FightingEntropy
3.94/5  rDev +7.9%

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.

FightingEntropy, Jul 07, 2011
Photo of beenitty
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%

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.

beenitty, May 05, 2011
Photo of Brad007
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%

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.

Brad007, Mar 13, 2011
Photo of mymadeline99
2.11/5  rDev -42.2%

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.

mymadeline99, Nov 08, 2010
Photo of FrankLloydMike
3.56/5  rDev -2.5%

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.

FrankLloydMike, Sep 28, 2010
Photo of Pittsburgh
3.65/5  rDev 0%

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.

Pittsburgh, Jun 12, 2010
Photo of jrallen34
3.33/5  rDev -8.8%

I went here for lunch while visiting Harvard.

The atmosphere was ok, nothing special. It was basement like, very spacious and nice seats but pretty boring scene.

The beer was all brewed there but not a huge selection, maybe only 6-8, I did not see what other beers they had.

I had the sampler and got beers picked by the brewer. In general they were pretty good and arranged appropriatley.

The food was typical bar food, ok but nothing special. The bread they serve is oustanding and they have some really good fries.

The service was kind of lacking, the waitress was drab and not very beer knowledgeable.

jrallen34, Feb 22, 2010
Photo of BretSikkink
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%

Decent atmosphere down in Cambridge, with the whole subterranean-brewhouse thing going. Nothing to set it apart from most brewpubs. The food was good, beers were definitely unique and interesting but no greater than average. Wait staff was a little, um, douche-y, but they got the job done and were fairly prompt. There were several beers that seemed interesting, from a wide variety of styles, but I honestly wasn't blown away by any of the four that we tried, including a single-hop IPA from the cask and a one-off Houblon style Belgian IPA. Nice local joint to catch a brew and a game.

BretSikkink, Dec 25, 2009
Photo of jbertsch
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%

I've never reviewed John Harvards??

Wow. Well, my friends and I used to go here every monday night for beers....why Monday? Cuz Mondays suck and we wanted something to look forward to I guess.

We always went there with one purpose in mind....to drink pitchers of the Milk Stout they used to make, but unfortunately no longer do. It was a fantastic brew that will go down in our memories as sweet folklore. We were always served by the same waitress (Michelle), who treated us well and would give us free pitchers every now and then. What more can you ask?

The food is essentially pub fare, but done well. Hearty entres with a home-cooked feel are what they excel at.

These days, beer night with the guys is gone because we've moved a bit further from each other and most of us are married. I still visit every now and then (just did this past weekend) with fond memories of the place. The Milk Stout is no longer there, but they still brew up a solid batch of 6-7 brews. The boch is fantastic.

The 2nd-to-last time I was there, we saw a cockroach crawl in front of us at the bar. It was gross, and it dissapointed me to see one in my beloved brewhouse. But the bartender was apologetic and gave us a round for free. In hindsight I wasn't surprised to see one because the place is in a basement, and with the brewing going on right there...you see what I mean.

Anyway, I still recommend the place. It's an institution in the cambridge area with solid brews and solid food.

jbertsch, Nov 18, 2009
Photo of HT75
3/5  rDev -17.8%

I think this place defines average. It's a great location and easy to get to. However, it's in a basement and it feels like a basement. THe beer is good, but you won't want to take a growler home. The brewers attempt to have a nice variety, but they have to play to the Cambridge mentality and college kids. The staff knows little to nothing about the beer, so don't ask any questions. However, they work hard and get thee job done. I don't think you'll be disappointed in hitting JH, but you won't be pleasantly surprised either.

HT75, Sep 16, 2009
Photo of hoffman
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%

This was a pretty neat place, you walk down a relatively narrow stairwell to the bar area, bar seats about 30 there is tons of seating for dinner as well. The tap selection includes about 10 or so local brews, writing this review sans notes, I stuggle to remember the exact names of the beers but I know I tried their bitter and hefe both of which were decent to good. The service was ok, respectable but not over accomodating. The food at John Harvards is pretty good. I had the spent grain pizza and clam chowder, too much for me to eat at one sitting. Also would appear to be a great bar to pull up and watch a game with ample flat screens to see everything that might be going on with the sox or celtics.

hoffman, Aug 08, 2009
Photo of Jayli
4.4/5  rDev +20.5%

The Cambridge location is in a former parking garage. The dark oak furniture sets the mood. Definitely has a great ambiance to it - there are even some stained glass windows at this particular location. There's a nice long bar, and several different sections for either dining, or appetizers and drinks. Waitress was very knowledgeable about the beers on tap - this particular setting I tried the Pilgrim's Porter, and Twelfth Ngiht Wassail. Another party tried the Pale Ale. The beers were outstanding as always - I've yet to have a beer from John Harvard's that I did not thoroughly enjoy. Food is outstanding as well! Great mixture of entrees and bar food.
I hadn't been to this location in about 10 years - definitely still my favorite location!

Jayli, Dec 30, 2008
Photo of smcolw
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%

I was surprised to realize that I've never reviewed John Harvard's Brew House. Having gone there for years, I must have figured I reviewed years ago. I find myself visiting whenever I'm going to Harvard (typically for a sporting event).

JH's is solid place to get typical American pub food served well. The beers are constantly changing and typically offer a wide variety from ultra-light ales to coffee-rich stouts. Outside of the lighter stuff, I think the brews are full bodied with (typically) a generous dose of hops.

Service is pretty standard stuff--college kids making a buck: attentive but not fawning. It's nothing more or less than you'd expect. The food is not quite boring. There are the ubiquitous wings, burgers and pizzas. My wife likes the salads. All-in-all, it's fine, will quench your rumbling belly and lighten your wallet by $15 per person (including a single beer).

smcolw, Dec 13, 2008
Photo of jushoppy2beer
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%

I spend several weekends each year up in Beantown and environs, and I love to come to this pub. The best thing is the environment around Harvard Square -- lots of bustle, lots of students and professors along with others. It's just across the street from the Harvard Yard, so you can't find a better college-town environment anywhere on the planet. The ambiance is warm and welcoming, though usually busy and bustling. Dark woods and stone, stained glass, nice bar, booths and tables. The food is quite good, and is mostly standard pub fare. The beers are quite good, all brewed on the premises. There is always something new on tap, including cask ales, and about every beer style there is. But, the selection on any given visit is just about 6-7 beers, so you have to come back often to sample them all.

jushoppy2beer, Nov 16, 2008
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John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House in Cambridge, MA
83 out of 100 based on 88 ratings.