Mahar's Public Bar
Taps: 28 / Bottles: 100
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 64 | Reviews: 64 | Display Reviews Only:
4.95/5 rDev +14.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
If you're looking for a place to listen to some douche-bag local band, play darts, pick up chicks/guys & suck down $2 happy hour swill, this is not the place to go. However if you're looking for a phenomenal selection of cask beers, local & imports on tap as well as a variety of bottles to rival a distributor, this is it.
What's available: There is invariably a variety of Middle Ages on cask as well as brews from Bluepoint, Stone and whoever is the hook-up of the week. Tap selections... where to even begin! Lots of micros- Brooklyn, Southern Tier, Weyerbacher as well as Belgians, British & just about any other country that exports beer (even Trinidad, but I don't recommend it.) All I can say is, get it on tap when you can 'cause often times its gone when its gone.
Atmosphere: Hey, a beer bar where people know beer! Patrons are generally pretty genial folk. Sometimes the Thurs-Sat crowd can be a bit less amiable than the quieter nights. I've met some pretty nice folks there and have never had a bad experience.
Complaints come from the folks who go there and order a martini and are laughed at. There is no hard alcohol served. Beer only... oh, and Saranac root beer on tap. I've seen people get a bit miffed when they don't receive the "Me-me-me." service they think they're entitled to but the staff know their beer and will assist patrons with selection if they can.
Food is limited. The toasties are excellent and not a bad deal at $5 a pop. There are also chips and often times a selection of cheeses & crackers for purchase. If you're looking for something more substantial, come here, pick up a couple of bottles & go next door for your meal.
En tota, this is the best beer bar I've been to on the east coast & highly recommend it to any poor shmuck passing through Albany.
03-02-2008 18:03:56 | More by Avryle
4.72/5 rDev +8.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
There are so many great things about Mahars...First Off, is the selection...I have never seen a better selection in my travels. A great selection of taps and bottles, I have never been disapointed. The beer is always fresh, and its great the selection of beers on the engines that always change. Riht now is alot of Middle ages, and Bluepoin, but often there are nice selections from ridgeway and others as well. The prices on all the beers are very reasonable for a beer bar.
The food is sparse, but delicious. The only offerings are a nice s election of cheeses, toasties (paninis), and occasionally a nice meat pie. The prices are all incredibly reasonable.
02-20-2008 19:33:22 | More by togasports
4.65/5 rDev +7.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
My first beer bar experience and still my favorite. It is probably because this place feels like home. Anywhere you go to get your first start will always have a special place in your heart, you know?
Mahar's has a great atmosphere that takes a page out of an old Irish pub. There is no ATM, no darts, no pool table, and no TVs. For distractions, you can peruse the many beer books they have lying about or talk to a random person who is there on their own It is a comfortable place where you can easily strike a conversation with a stranger and not feel ostracized for it. Things can get noisy a bit from Wed. evenings on through Saturday nights, but show up early enough and you can easily find your corner or a seat at a table.
The selection is top notch and I have yet to go to a place that can match it, let alone rival it. They have anywhere from 200 - 3000 unique bottles at hand and they work hard to keep new beers rotating in. They feature a World Beer Tour that keeps track of the # of beer you've had while listing unique ones for you. They have ~ 30 beers on draft which feature English, Cask (6 hand pumps!), and Belgian beers regularly, with US craft beers constantly in rotation.
The friendliness and service can sometimes be volatile depending on the crowd and their attitude. I think this is their one weak spot. Still, be patient and know what you want will facilitate the best experience for you.
Concerning food, they have a number of toasted sandwiches, cheeses, and an occasional meat pie (which are quite excellent if you manage to find one!). For heartier fare, and more selection, you'll have to try alternate eating establishments.
Overall, this is a fantastic beer establishment and should not be missed. If you stop in Albany, be sure to visit Mahar's!
02-20-2008 05:13:23 | More by shuriyukum
5/5 rDev +15.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$$
Ahh Mahar's. I have been going here on and off for about 4 years now. Recently moved back to Albany and now live so close to the bar that I am scared. It is all things to all people. The bartenders can be curt and they can be extremely generous. They are people. Be polite and you will be fine. The beer they have is top notch and they are constantly rotating things out. They do pot luck on Saturday which is nice. They do have food most of the time in the way of sandwiches located in the fridge at the end of the bar. Really hard to describe this place. It is a very Albany place and then it is not. To go just once really doesn't do the place service. This is a place to be a regular at. Bill recently said the 30,000th person signed up for the tour recently. They must be doing something right.
01-07-2008 23:24:45 | More by aerozeppl
4.08/5 rDev -6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
an oasis in a town of crap.
this is your old man standing around drinking cask type of joint. atmosphere is fine, with beer stuff all over the place. we got one of the few tables, since you stand at the bar.
the beer was pretty good. they didn't have anything that really excited me, but atleast had a bunch of different casks to try.
didn't really deal with the service, as my friend ordered, but since he knew him, seemed friendly enough.
so selection. yes, they have a billion bottles of beer. thats pretty cool. too bad so much of it is uninteresting. i had a beer from costa rica because i used to live there. it was a terrible sweet lager, but i knew that already. they do a computer database that keeps track of the beers you have had and what you need to have. pretty clever. we met the guy that had drank the most, that was still living or something. nice guy, pretty nutty about beer. i guess you'd have to be to drink five thousand beers in the same place.
didn't have any food, but i don't think they offer any.
overall, not really a destination, but if you are in albany and don't want to goto that god awful pumphouse brewery, come here. its atleast real.
09-10-2007 18:00:16 | More by jgnatek
4.72/5 rDev +8.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Originally we thought we wouldn't it on this trip, but decided to just go for it anyway. Got there shortly after 11pm so we didn't have too much time to check the place out. Not much seating when we arrived, but plenty of standing room at the bar. I prepared for the worst as far as the bartenders and their attitude went, but they were both very friendly, even apologetic that they couldn't sell me a pint glass at the time. Only had time for 1 beer, so I went with one of the 6 cask ales behind the bar. A nice wide variety of International, Domestic, and American Micros, both bottled and on tap, though not as huge as I assumed based on previous reviews. Has a very nice vibe with plenty of beer decor scattered throughout a British pub/hole in the wall motif. The reviews are right, this is one of the best places to have a beer in America, I know I'll eagerly return sometime in the future.
07-23-2007 15:33:21 | More by HopDerek
4.3/5 rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | $$$
So this was the (in)famous Mahar's. I've heard so much about it, both good and bad. I've heard they have more bottles than God himself, and that the barkeeps are as rude as Lucifer.
As it's been mentioned, there is a printable list of the beers they have. You put your name on it and they start subtracting the beers you've ordered. Lots of obscure beers from all over. Really an amazing selection. A little on the pricey side but worth it for the sheer selection all in one spot.
The look of the bar is that of a woody English pub. We got there early so there were plenty of tables and places to sit. There was also a more open area where it was possible to stand. (We met a couple of nice Albany-based former microbrewers and had some nice conversation, mostly about beer... what could be better, really?)
The food didn't appear to be supplied by the bar, but rather brought by customers? I couldn't really tell. Either way I had just eaten so I didn't try anything but the wings got raves.
I had heard some things about the bartenders here, so I braced for some attitude when I made my order (I went with a Rogue, hoping it would help me avoid scorn). Though it took the barkeep a while to get to me due to the line in front of me, he was pleasant enough, even if slightly condescending in his tone after I asked what I needed to do to fill out the sign-up sheet.
It's quite a place. If you live in Albany and haven't been there, then shame on you. Get your behind over there this Saturday, 4pm sharp.
06-15-2007 04:45:27 | More by williamherbert
4.2/5 rDev -3.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | $$
A hidden gold mine.
You'll find things on tap or cask that you've never imagined or heard of (depending on how much of a beer snob you are).
The selection is simply phenominal. It goes beyond anything I've seen in NYC or Boston in terms of a quality selection.
The computerized beer tour is great ... and the management/ownership takes it serious and keeps it well updated.
The staff can, actually "will", come off as very harsh to new comers. Unfortunately, my best suggestion is to not ask too many question. Follow the rules, be respectful, and you'll do fine.
05-22-2007 17:58:16 | More by madmanjf
3.74/5 rDev -13.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | $$
An oasis in Albany!
Was in town for a few days for work and found this place on Beerfly, so a friend and I decided to check it out. This was a Thursday night, maybe 7pm when we first got there, and it was really crowded already -- and it only got more crowded throughout the night. Standing room only, basically -- the one table and few stools were full up with what looked like regulars.
Great set of casks and taps, the latter placed at various locations around the room. All beers poured expertly, although with little enthusiasm or friendliness. I'd heard rumours about surliness and snark here, but all we really experienced was indifference.
Anyway, started off with a Middle Ages stout on cask, headed next door for some so-so Indian (no food in sight at Mahar's), and came back for a draft Stone RIS followed by a cask No Apologies DIPA, which pretty much ended my evening. Huge selection which I gather changes constantly, plus a cool little computer application for keeping track of what you've tried.
Really nice to find a place like this in Albany, whose food and drink scene is pretty mediocre. Will definitely go back whenever I'm in town.
04-30-2007 18:25:42 | More by crwills
4.6/5 rDev +6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
I'm writting this out of nastolgia. Currently living across the country. I pine to get back for a beer. Working next door has it perks. Anyway on to the bar as I can still smell the beer.
This is a beer bar. And a paradise at that. Expect nothing more than old english pub feel, wooden everything and a rotating beer list that to my knowledge was over 5000 (as in more than 5000 beers have come through there since they opened the doors; they keep 30 on tap and over 150 in bottles organized on the print out by country). Keep track of what you drink and different varietys via the computer system is just plain fun. My beer maturation process was formed here. As for the staff. Basically just Bill. At points can not be the friendlist guy in the world. Opinionated. Very knowledgable. And if you can get him on a good night (read: dead) entertaining to talk to. Best to hit this place when it's dead, or at least you hope it is. No one like's it crowded in there, including the bartenders so try mon-thurs nights or early afternoons (remember college town so subject to be busier at the normal times of year). Easier to talk about the beer and to your local barmates. This place...I miss. If anyone reads this and visits. Say Aaron that moved to SLC says hi.
p.s. The irregular 'beer fests' (i cannot recall the actual name they have for them) are a great deal. For $50 you get 10 beers never before served at mahars and food during the day (this is done on sunday's usually when the bar is closed and unopened beers can be taken home).
04-13-2007 08:28:43 | More by Rippeddisc
Mahar's Public Bar in Albany, NY
96 out of 100 based on 64 ratings.