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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 Charthepirate
5/5  rDev +15.2%

Wow, just wow.

Came in for a tasting of brooklyn beers with Garret Oliver. Had a bit of trouble finding the place down the long strip of stores, but the crowd outside smoking and talking about barleywine tipped me off ;).

Inside it is a long bar, some seating, no barstools. About 25 tap lines, and 2 beers and 1 farmhouse cider on cask. At least 100 bottles were also available.

Mugs lined the wall behind the tap lines, these mugs are reserved for repeat customers, who have "joined the club." Keep trying beers, and eventually you can get one.

Bartenders were on top of things, knew beer fantastically well, and were very friendly. Patrons were all friendly, especially the various BA's I met there.

Some cheeses are available, other than that no food that I could see.

Just a great place, I must return.


Charthepirate, Mar 31, 2004
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 hollicetales
5/5  rDev +15.2%

You can move away from Albany, but you'll keep coming back to go to Mahar's even if you move all the way to California. There's no better selection and atmosphere in the Northeast and well anywhere that I have traveled for that matter. It really is the ideal for the perfect pub. The atmosphere is laid back and cozy and the staff is so extremely knowledgable, these people know thier beer and they take it seriously. Most of all, you have to love Mahar's because people go there for one reason and one reason alone...to drink good beer.

hollicetales, Feb 02, 2004
Photo of aerozeppl
5/5  rDev +15.2%

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.

aerozeppl, Jan 07, 2008
Photo of Avryle
4.95/5  rDev +14.1%

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.

Avryle, Mar 02, 2008
Photo of cbl2
4.94/5  rDev +13.8%

I spent 3 weeks of the summer up in Albany last summer taking a class for teaching, and was lucky enough to stumble upon Mahar's. Part of what got me through that 3 week period in my life was my attempt to earn a tshirt at Mahar's (50 different beers required).

Mahar's opens promptly at 4 during the week, and I was there promptly at 4 each day. Word to the wise: no underage drinking here! Bill the bartender carded me every day for a week, even though I had discussions with him every day. The bar is somewhat small, but entirely covered in beer paraphenalia. Each table has 4 beer towels on it. There are old taps lining the walls, and the occassional brass plaque for those that have consumed 500 different beers at Mahar's.

Each beer you drink is kept track of by highlighting a personalized computer sheet. The next time you frequent Mahar's, the highlighted beers from your previous venture will no longer appear on your menu.

Selection is phenomenal. Things on tap are listed first, followed by an alphabetized listing of countries, and their respective beers. At any given time I'd say there are 150-200 beers in the bottle, and about 15 or so beers on tap. Prices are a little high (it cost about $300 for my Tshirt), but well worth it.

cbl2, Jun 18, 2004
Photo of Shiredave
4.94/5  rDev +13.8%

What can you say about what is arguably one of the top 3 beer bars in New York state? ( my 3 picks? The Country Inn, Mahars, The Blue Tusk)
Mahars is small, it's different and it kicks ass with an unrivaled variety in tap selections that can only be chosen by a true Beer Lover and Advocate.
That would be Mr. Mahar. As knowlagable as anyone in the biz, Mahar goes to great lengths to provide his customers with the finest quality, rare and exceptional tap offerings available. Belgians, cask British and US Ales, Traditional Ciders, keg only offerings and limited production seasonals all find thier way to Mahars. I believe more than 5000 different beers have been served at Mahar's since he opened. I wonder if that includes the Raspberry Hoegaarden....?
At least 25 beers and up to 6+ cask ales on tap with a staggering list of hard to find specialty bottles. Walk in and set yourself up on his computer, and you can begin your beer tour. They keep track of the beers you have tried by marking your list and entering data at the end of the night. No bar stools or live music, a few tables and , sadly, usually no women, but this is a place for drinking and talking beer. Always a BA type to talk to and always something great to drink you probobly never had before.
Without doubt, a Must visit for any BA that finds him/her self
( notice I invite the Lady BA's ) in the Capital region of NY.
Bless you Jim and Bill.

Shiredave, Nov 28, 2003
Photo of sponberg
4.94/5  rDev +13.8%

Don't miss this place when you're looking for it - a small bar located between and on the same block as Bruegger's Bagels and Peking Restaurant. Look for the blue building with the Lees cask over the door. Parking can be scarce, so try behind the building or on a side street.

Hmm, let me try to be objective about a place in which I've had roughly a thousand beers... The tap selection is always interesting and changing - if it's out there, Mahar's had it or will be getting it. The bottled selection is generally huge (150+), and the beers are generally in great shape. Everything from cask to micros to Belgian oddballs to you name it, it's either here now, been here before, or is waiting to be tapped in the basement. The staff know their stuff & the owner (Mahar) and manager (Bill) are cool, interesting folk. It's small, the rules are strict (e.g. no feet on the chairs, no harassing/loud yelling, etc.), the hours are short (4-12, sometimes open at noon), and the food menu is very limited, and it's a wonderful place to enjoy a pint or two or three or four or... taxi!

Re the beer tour: The ultimate prize (after 500) is to have your name engraved on a plaque that hangs over the bar. I find it to be a convenient place to hang my liver when I visit.

Edit: Scratched the "sometimes smoky" part, courtesy of the NYS smoking ban in restaurants and bars. Smell the beer... ahhh!!

sponberg, Jul 08, 2002
Photo of francisweizen
4.86/5  rDev +12%

Well we drove over four hours in the aftermath of a nice snow storm to get here. The number one rated US pub on this here site. Was it worth the drive and the time to get here. In one word: Yes!

The atmosphere of this place is unreal. A nice UK style storefront welcomes you in from Madison avenue. Upon entering you start to read the interesting non-smoking signs, and "house rules". Even in the vestibule of this place I had good feelings:-) The atmosphere is really nice in here. All wood, and quite old looking with books and games scattered around little nooks and crannies of wood. A few stools are around, but none of them are by the bar. They invite you to look at their recently (daily?) printed beer-list. Select a beer and leave the bar area :-) The quality of all of the ales sampled was exceptional and the selection is quite awesome as well, though not as mind-blowing as I expected. I ended up trying the new brooklyn sustainable porter, a rogue 12pa fresh off the tap, and a heavyweight pegalina. The beers were a bit on the pricey side at $4-6 a pint, but for the rare stuff ordered it is perfectly understandable and fine by me. When you pay, you should always pay for quality. Service here is quite nice with the bartender of the evening being a veritable beer encyclopedia. When I quizzed him on the pegalina by heavyweight, he poured me a generous sized (5oz?) sample of it for free, I than got a half of that and some water as well. Nice service, indeed. Truly, one of the best beer bars in the US

francisweizen, Jan 11, 2005
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
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Mahar's Public Bar in Albany, NY
96 out of 100 based on 64 ratings.