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Mahar's Public Bar

Not Rated.
Mahar's Public BarMahar's Public Bar

64 Ratings
Ratings: 64
Reviews: 64
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 11.52%
Taps: 28
Bottles: 100
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1110 Madison Ave
Albany, New York, 12208-2248
United States
phone: (518) 459-7868
// CLOSED //

Monday - Saturday 4pm - midnight
Open the last Sunday of the month and every Sunday throughout December 2pm - 8pm

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 64 | Reviews: 64 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of stalker5
3.53/5  rDev -18.7%

I've been to Mahar's a few times and I do enjoy it but heading into to look around to see what you want isn't really possible. Tap handles are normally dirty and tough to read and they get you a beer list for that day when you go in. When you decide what you want, you normally do have to wait some time before placing and receiving your order. It's a decent place to check out to do their beer list and if you're sold on the incentive to have your own glass and all that, but not really if you're looking to hang out or have something really good. Some of the cask stuff isn't bad but it's very pricey for the average joe going in to check out a few new beers. It can also get pretty annoying in there when it fills out. There's not a lot of seating and it's fairly narrow and tough to maneuver through when crowded.

stalker5, Oct 08, 2012
Photo of BMC
4.41/5  rDev +1.6%

Great place, wish I still lived in the area. As others mention you don't go to Mahars for music or for girls you go there for the beer. The main bartender Bill is a great guy who sometimes is misunderstood, when it is not packed he will get into an in-depth beer conversation with anyone interested.

A few points, make sure you sign up with an ID# so you can use the computer to track the beers you have had. They close at midnight and last call is usually well before that. The best time to go is a weeknight when it isn't packed.

BMC, Aug 23, 2012
Photo of Tesla518
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%

I love mahar's.

Bill and all of the barmen are great. They've always been good to me even when they shouldn't have been.

The beer selection is not only more than most places but more exclusive than most places. They have a great cask collection and sometimes have pin kegs for a 1 night exclusive.

I go there mainly for the seasonal selections but they have a great selection of major styles.

Overall Its a great beer bar don't go there for anything but great beer and good conversation there is nothing else going on and I like it so much because of that.

Tesla518, May 23, 2012
Photo of thehenbarris
4.46/5  rDev +2.8%

I. love. Mahar's.

Bill, while a bit gruff, has always been cordial to me, and Murph (Chris), is fantastic. They don't put up with any shenanigans (and I can't blame them), so if you're looking for a place with loud music where you can slam Bud Lights and chow down on wings, this is not your place.

They have a "beer tour" system so you can track what beers you haven't have. While it seems intimidating at first, signing up is incredibly easy. Go to the back, hit enter on the computer and select a beer list based on country, style, or serving type (they have a draft-only list). Put your name and birthday at the top, go up to the bar, and proceed to order.

50 beers gets you a t-shirt, 125 beers gets you a mug and 20% off all draft purchases, 200 gets you a case of beer, and 500 beers gets you a spot on the plaque on the back wall. Until you hit 200 beers, you're limited to 4 beers/night.

Check out itsonlybeer.com

Go to Mahar's!

thehenbarris, Feb 10, 2012
Photo of rlee1390
3.89/5  rDev -10.4%

I've been a few times just never reviewed the place. I would say they have about 20 taps, which rotate frequently and showcase seasonal beers as well. The best is the beers on cask, I believe there are 4-5 cask beers at any one time. Every time I've gone these have been predominately Middle Ages beers. They also have an extensive bottle list as well.

The place can get crowded, it is not that large and seating can get scarce.

Service is well, notorious. Know what you want to order, order it, say please and thank you, leave the bar and go sit down/stand with your friends.

rlee1390, Dec 11, 2011
Photo of Flashy
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Having attempted to visit Mahars for almost 20 years and for one reason or another never being able I finally made it. I was passing, had the time and found the Mahars open.
Put off a bit by it's (his) reputation for being a beer nazi I was pleasantly surprised. I was even offered free pizza!
It was slow- never attempt to visit when busy unless unavoidable- as this place is SMALL. The bartender (owner) was pleasant. The beer selection was not the greatest, but with rotating taps that happens- I imagine they get some great stuff in here most times.
Plenty of parking, but I imagine with all the restaurants and bars on the block that could change depending on the date and time of your visit. But with Albany PD across the street I don't imagine the neighborhood is unsafe to park on a side street.
I will go back and order beer, say please, pay and leave area

Flashy, Aug 16, 2011
Photo of FourQuarters
4.04/5  rDev -6.9%

Living in the area, I've been to Mahar's many times. It has a great beer selection and you're always sure to find a tasty version of the style you're looking to enjoy. That being said, figuring out what they actually have at any given time isn't easy. Beer menus are scare, so I find it's ask and hope -- and generally the hoping is rewarded. The place is small and crowded and on busy nights I could almost brew a beer as quickly as I can get served one. On less busy nights it's a great place for great beer and conversation. Plan on eating before you go or after you leave. I've never seen food at Mahars or anything resembling a food menu (like Bigfoot and their beer menu, it's elusive if it even exists). I assume the staff is knowledgeable about beer, but it's hard to tell as the only thing I've ever heard from any of them is "What do want?" and a repetition of my order to make sure that they got it right. Small, crowded and slow, but a great selection of beer.

FourQuarters, Oct 13, 2010
Photo of Edwinivich
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%

It's too small, the bartenders can be gruff, the hours are strange (and they're not open on Sundays), there's almost no seating, you often have to stand at the bar, there's virtually no food, and I think there's one small television. BUT I'D GO IN A MINUTE!!! And if you're a beer connoisseur, so should you!!!

This is consistently rated as one of the top twenty beer bars in America. I'm not sure why BECAUSE IT SHOULD BE # 1 - or at least in the top five. Seriously, I went to many of the other pubs/bars on Pubcrawler's list of the top 50, and they don't compare.

Mahar's has cask ales (hand pumped up from the basement), obscure microbrews, a draft selection surpassing anything I've ever seen (and I'm a draft beer whore), virtually every bottled beer in existence, and my undying loyalty and grateful patronage.

Seriously, this place makes it almost worth going to visit my mother-in-law in Albany (almost).

Edwinivich, Sep 28, 2010
Photo of Lazerlobe
3.95/5  rDev -9%

The atmosphere was exactly what I wanted in a bar. Free tables, light music and a tight space. The overall English pub feel is what I seek in a bar.

This was not your best kept bar by any stretch of the altered imagination. That said, this same quality is what lends it charm. Glasses were clean than the bartender if that is what you mean.

The service comes split. If you need advice/have questions, these will be provided in earnest. If you walk up, don't observe some unstated/unclear customs and order a beer, you get the feeling that you are a nuisance to the bartender and would be better of trying a new spot. If this was the place where I was working at the mug club, it would be superb but the impression I got is that the bar was very regular-centric to the casual visitor's lament.

The line-up of taps guarantees something for everyone and they are forever rotating so come every week and expect to try something new.

Overall, I would love this place if I was local and will continue to swing in when I am in town but wouldn't recommend it to someone timid for a bar visit.

Lazerlobe, Sep 27, 2010
Photo of pandashaver
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%

THIS IS BEER HEAVEN!!! If there were any way to have this place within walking distance for the rest of my life and not live in Albany, I would. That being said, here's my breakdown:

The place is very wooden, very small, no TV, no darts, very little besides beer. That being said, it is cozy and a great place to bring a few close friends (or make some new ones). Modeled after English-style pubs, though I've never actually been to one in England. Excellent that you can actually hear yourself speak and carry on a conversation. The hundreds of taphandles that line ceiling, awning, and the bar itself are just plain cool. There is also a wall of mugs behind the bar, as well as brass "service line only" rails. My only suggestion for improvement would be to turn up the speakers to a more audible (but not blaring) level.

There is simply no better place for beer on Earth, I'm convinced. If there is, then I will have truly died and gone to heaven. This place carries the finest beers, serves them in English/imperial pints, and the staff have incredible knowledge of beer in general.

Don't be an ass, and don't order a Heineken light, and you will find the service to be top-notch. Ask about any beer, and you will be given ample information before ordering. Step to one of the 3 brass "service line only" rails, and you will be promptly served a well-poured pint. The other day, a bartender spilled a bit off the top of my pint when he quickly placed it in front of me, and before I could blink he topped it off and replaced it - now that's service.

There are 4-6 casks at this place at all times, some imports/Belgians/1-time brews. Generally around 30 draft beers, constantly rotating, from around the country and around the world. If for some reason a draft doesn't catch your fancy for the day, there are literally hundreds of bottles available (cellared at the precise temperature for the style, of course).

Food, while scarce in selection, get the job done. Toasties are a great deal for 5-6 bucks, and the quality cheese runs from $4.50-9 per block, and comes with an entire roll of crackers on a cutting board. Some servers will even make an expert cheese-beer pairing selection, warming the cheese to the perfect temp if necessary.

Considering the pints are 1/3 larger than American pints and generally priced from 5-7 buck for drafts, it's not a bad deal. Belgians and imperials can run $8-12 per pint or more. The bottles, however, are generally at least twice the price as at the store. 1 nice option not advertised is that you can buy a 10 oz. (half) pint of any beer for half the price listed. You can also buy an American (14oz) pint for about 20% off the listed price.

The best value of this bar that keeps you coming back is the Mahar's Beer Tour. Free to sign up, you get a shirt, an engraved mug (with 20% discounts for life!), a case of beer, and your name immortalized on a wall plaque at 50, 125, 200, and 500 beers, respectively. However, you can only drink 4 beers a night (on the tour at least), until you reach 200 beers. However, 4 beers of larger size and ABV than the norm really equates to 6-8 standard 5% bottles, which should be more than enough.

pandashaver, Sep 04, 2010
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Mahar's Public Bar in Albany, NY
96 out of 100 based on 64 ratings.