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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:
Reviews by mikeys01:
Photo of mikeys01


4.43/5  rDev +2.1%

We visited Mahar’s on a Saturday afternoon with some friends of ours who live in the area. Walking up to the place, it doesn’t stand out as anything special, indistinguishable form any other neighborhood bar, with it’s blue awning and simple block letters overhead and on the door. A pair of street lamps flanking the entrance are a small hint at the pub awaiting inside.

Inside Mahar’s, the furnishings and environment have every bit the comfort and feel of a true pub, very reminiscent of English pubs I’ve visited. A long bar runs nearly the length of the room, though it’s truly a standing bar only – no stools. Several hand pumps are visible and many draught taps as well, a very respectable mix of top notch American craft breweries and traditional and special European brews. There are several heavy wood tables with large and sturdy stools tucked along the wall and into the available space all around the bar. Cloth pub placemats top every table.

At the time we visited, Mahars was lightly filled with a bunch of locals and regulars, most of whom were quite friendly. There were crock pots of food as well as cheese and crackers brought in by the locals, for sharing. Atmosphere was very relaxed and conversational, with faint folk music playing from one corner, this is the place to go to drink great beer and enjoy some good talk.

The publican was extremely knowledgeable an fairly helpful, though definitely a bit elitist at times when dealing with customers – this was my only nit about the place. Beers were fairly reasonably priced and extremely diverse in the offerings. All told, probably 20-30 draft and cask beers, and easily a couple hundred bottled beers. Middle Ages comprised many of the (6) cask offerings. Service was relaxed like the atmosphere, not necessarily fast, but you won’t be overlooked for a beer as long as you want one. Food on the menu is very limited, sandwiches and cheese offerings, but this place doesn’t try to pose as a restaurant so that’s perfectly fine. I’d definitely call this place a hidden gem, and worth visiting again.

04-09-2006 22:34:35 | More by mikeys01
More User Reviews:
Photo of stalker5

New York

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.

10-08-2012 15:11:36 | More by stalker5
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.

08-23-2012 04:16:27 | More by BMC
Photo of Tesla518

New York

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.

05-23-2012 19:14:26 | More by Tesla518
Photo of thehenbarris

New York

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!

02-10-2012 06:01:16 | More by thehenbarris
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.

12-11-2011 17:57:15 | More by rlee1390
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

08-16-2011 13:39:25 | More by Flashy
Photo of FourQuarters

New York

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.

10-13-2010 04:21:28 | More by FourQuarters
Photo of Edwinivich

New York

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).

09-28-2010 22:20:41 | More by Edwinivich
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.

09-27-2010 02:47:03 | More by Lazerlobe
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Mahar's Public Bar in Albany, NY
96 out of 100 based on 64 ratings.