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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 STEG
3.85/5  rDev -11.3%

Where to begin with this place, lets start with the beer, when ordering you get to look at the tap handles or ask for the beer list which is nearly impossible to read and usually covered in old beer. Then once you figure out what you want you have to wait for the simpsons comic book guy to saunter his way over to you to get your beer. I went here recently with one of my college professors and a small group of better than average college students (who were slightly into beer). I was able to make my way through to order good beer, but comic book guy was kind of pretentious when they either had no idea what they wanted or were asking for less than good offerings that the bar wouldn't ever carry stuff like blue moon or Sam Adams. The quality of the beer and and the offerings has diminished lately going from having ten fidy on tap to leffe blond and other average beers from england. Occasionally they'll get something good in but meh. The beer is also expensive. Its a great place for beer snobs but not for the average new to beer or less discerning consumer.

STEG, Aug 12, 2010
Photo of drinkiusmaximus
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%

So here it is this is the place where I had my first Stone Sublimley self righteous on tap score one for Mahars....
The atmosphere was awesome just what you want in a beer bar to have a beer and relax and enjoy some conversation while sipping an exceptional pint.
The service on the other hand is the only downfall tenders can be a bit gruff at times but hey,can't find better tap selection in the capital district of albany so who cares...right?

Selection is very good with an extensive tap selection and about 6 cask engines going. they have a website which is updated frequently which helps with knowing what to expect when you arrive.

For a craft beer enthousiast this is a must visit bring your own entertainment/conversation because they provide none..what they do provide is exceptional beer at reasonable prices..Prost!

drinkiusmaximus, Jul 30, 2010
Photo of Loki
4.66/5  rDev +7.4%

What a great bar. I wish I could have been with some friends as there are no seats at the bar. I'm used to drinking alone when I travel (that almost sounds bad), but having a pint or two by myself at a six top wood table that looks like it came out of somebody's kitchen 30 years ago was a bit weird. I would have liked to be able to sit at the bar and talk to the bartender, but minor issue.

Atmosphere: Mahar's made me feel like I was back in a time where people went to their local Pub to have a beer and share time with their friends on a regular basis. While I was there five to six small groups came in and out talking, having beers, and hanging out. The place just gives the feel of a time that has sadly gone by.

Quality: List is packed with nothing but quality ales from top to bottom. No less than four cask ales on at all times and I believe they had six while I was there. I had two of them. The rest of the draft and bottle list is equally as impressive.

Selection: Top notch and very broad selection of ales from around the world. I haven't been in too many bars with a better selection.

I didn't try their food, but they did have a selection of pre-wrapped deli sandwiches and a good selection of cheeses.

I thought the pricing was very good for the quality and selection they had on hand.

Loki, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of slk2go
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%

This is one of my favorite beer bars in the entire country. I agree if you only roll in on a friday at the peak hour, you will get mediocre service. I however suggest coming in on a tuesday afternoon or better yet on monday for "pie night". Once Bill and the rest of the crew gets to know you, you get treated very well. No different than any other bar. In fact they are quite knowledgeable and helpful once you crack the shell. Yes the beer can be a bit expensive but where else can you find a tap selection like this. Additionally, if you are a regular the price drops considerably once you have your 125th beer and get your mug. Further, I don't think there is any other place that carries 6 casks. The food although basic is enjoyable. Pies are tasty as are the "toasties" with horseradish sauce. It is also enjoyable to grab some beers with an entourage and grab some cheese and crackers. Certainly not gourmet but the food is inexpensive and certainly tasty for what it is. It is also one of the few bars I know of that has an extensive beer library. They also have chess and backgammon boards. This is a great place to hangout at on a weekend or come in and do some reading during the week. As for people that complain about the attitudes, I say if you walked into a fine french restaurant and ordered a burger and fries they would make an ass of you this joint is no different. If you want a coors light and a cosmo, go somewhere else.

slk2go, Feb 27, 2010
Photo of ProfessorHomer
3.6/5  rDev -17.1%

This famously odd place has beers you will find no where else in a 100 mile radius of Albany. A real man's real beer bar. Bring cash - and lots of it - features the most expensive pints in Albany.

Atmosphere: Previously, and accurately, described as a "Beer Cave" or "Hobbit Hole". Difficult to find, small but deep with sanding-room-only nooks. Only regulars can stand (no sitting!) at the bar. The rest of us peons need line up in a specific spot to "Order Beer Here; Pay; Go Away" per their sign. They bolt all their old taps to sills throughout the place, and they have ALOT of them - impressive!

Quality: They get kegs and casks you ill find nowhere else. And some regular brews too. VERY expensive, pints are from $8 to $12.

Service: They pour and take your money. Ask nothing else for ye shall only me met with stony silence and despair.

Selection: Very eclectic. From local brewskis to exotic European seasonal kegs - they seem to be able to get almost anything yet tap randomly - you have alot of choice. Had six casks on tap when we visited - intriguing.

Food: They have food?

Value: You will find beers from your beer "Bucket List" that you will find nowhere else. You will pay dearly for them.

Come here at least once - but the place is almost always packed so arrive early for best standing room. Bring your own fun, this is a true beer-snob's bar staffed by true beertender snobs. Nevertheless, I remain intrigued...

ProfessorHomer, Jan 17, 2010
Photo of CHickman
4.64/5  rDev +6.9%

I have been to Mahar's twice and enjoyed both visits immensely. The atmosphere is great and very conducive to beer drinkers socializing and discussing all things beer, or just kicking back and have a few brews and listening to the music.

To me, there are a few things that stand out about Mahar's: first, the bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly; second, the selection is outstanding and I like the fact that it's beer only at this place; third - the old computer and tracking system is a trip and a great way to keep new beers flowing as well as maintaining a great log as well as some competition on the beer expert front.

I have been lucky enough to go with a regular and felt that the other regular's there were a good group of people all out to enjoy quality beer. I'm also pleasantly surprised that Albany has such a great beer scene...working in NYC has me spoiled as I'm used to great beer bars throughout the city, but Albany is a very good place to drink beer.

CHickman, Jan 06, 2010
Photo of DaveLikesAle
5/5  rDev +15.2%

Hard to find anything to complain about. If I were creating my own "beer cave", it would look like Mahar's. SIX cask ales. They were not all full (I think only 3 during my visit on Tuesday), but obviously availability can be a factor. I had Fuller's Mr. Harry, which I had never even heard of - an outstanding English ale. The barkeeper was extremely knowledgable and answered all questions that we had. He sells 10 oz. pours as well as 20 oz., so we got to try a couple of things - a nice touch. This is a destination. If you are ever near Albany, go to Mahar's.

DaveLikesAle, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of beerbrewerdan
4.36/5  rDev +0.5%

Yes, there's a lot of wood. I am having some trouble understanding why that is something to complain about. This place looks like an English pub, but brighter. I like the way it looks. It's true that there are no bar stools at the bar, but traffic-wise this makes good sense. It's true that it's very small. No problem. The only reason I didn't give 5 stars to the atmosphere is because I get picky when there is dust on various bits in a bar. There were a few places where the many tap handles in the place had dust. Definitely not all of them.

The menu thing is a bit weird, I agree. Having to go to a computer to print one out is cumbersome, but we had no trouble finding one laying around at the bar. At one point we even borrowed one from a "member." On top of that it's not exactly hard to see the draft handles. The bottles aren't not necessarily visible so a menu would be necessary. Further, the rotation at this place is so great that printing out menus to have laying around would be a big waste. I've beer to places with a better selection so I didn't rate that ultra high here. But the selection clearly exceeds many, many places.

The clientele, to say the least, was man-heavy. Basically a bunch of beer geeks with a few "regular people" mixed in. This bar is in a college area and attracts plenty of those folks.

One disappointment was the Hoptical Illusion on cask. It tasted like medicine. I've read some reviews on here and no one has mentioned this, so I'm guessing it was particular to them. Otherwise all beers I had were great. Proper temp, wheat glass when having a weizen, etc. It's not like every glass had a logo from the brewery (I don't need that) but they were appropriate in shape at all times. I don't have to have that either, but I prefer it.

beerbrewerdan, Sep 11, 2008
Photo of Troy518
3/5  rDev -30.9%

I know other people have highly rated this bar and I do not argue with it being the best that there is in the Albany area. I have been here twice and have been a bit disappointed. My party of three had to wait outside for 15 minutes because the bar was at capacity (65 people). Once we got in, we requested a beer menu and were directed to go print one out on the computer. Previously, we went and there was no crowd and were served promptly. I would recommend avoiding this place on high traffic days, mainly Thursday through Saturday. The bartenders were more attentive to their frequent patrons than to newcomers. The practice of getting in a service line took a bit getting used to. The beer that was ordered was served well above temperature and thus disappointing. The glasses were very warm and the beer itself tasted like it was served around 60F. I appreciated the fact that they didn't let more people in than they could handle but I wish the service was a little more attentive. Their selection is the best in the area but their markup seems a bit on the pricier side in comparison to some of the places I've been to in Boston (i.e. Publick House & Monk Cell, Sunset Grille, etc.). If you are really looking for these beers I suggest visiting Oliver's in Albany and saving some cash.

Troy518, Sep 06, 2008
Photo of yemenmocha
4.72/5  rDev +8.8%

Quaint atmosphere, especially with the stand up bar area. Numerous tap handles and other beer decorations create the right mood.

Selection is top quality local craft, east coast craft, and a good range of imports. I was able to savor an imperial pint of Coninston Bluebird Bitter here, well before it made its way into beer retail merchant stores.

On my weeknight visit I found the service to be good and the bar uncrowded, but I can imagine it is rowdy on Friday or Saturday night. There has to be a reason why they resort to standing at the bar in that narrow corridor, and I'd bet it's not good.

yemenmocha, Jul 04, 2008
Mahar's Public Bar in Albany, NY
96 out of 100 based on 64 ratings.