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J. Ryan's

Not Rated.
J. Ryan'sJ. Ryan's
BA SCORE
96
world-class

34 Ratings
Ratings: 34
Reviews: 21
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: n/a
Taps: 69
Bottles: 30
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

253 E Water St
Syracuse, New York, 13202-1121
United States
phone: (315) 399-5533

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
Place added by: John on 11-20-2009

No notes at this time.
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 34 | Reviews: 21
Reviews by Roguer:
Photo of Roguer
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75

A - A step above dive bar, a step below a good Irish pub. Relatively small, but friendly service.

Q - The burger I had was good, but not great. The beer was great.

Ser - Very good service, and when the bar gets busy, the bartender keeps up well. Never did table service, so I can't comment on that. No problem getting a beer (or two or three), quick delivery on the food, and an unsolicited offer for beer samples. Kudos.

Sel - 69 beers on tap. Oh, you need more? Plenty of classics, and plenty of beer I simply cannot get back home. Yeah, maybe Flower Power flows like water in your neck of the woods, or Devil Dancer is the new sliced bread, but I was pretty damn thrilled at the selection. Not just a lot of beer; a lot of GOOD beer.

F - Again, decent, and consistently so. Nothing wrong with the food, but it's a step shy of great.

V - Beer prices were reasonable. Sandwiches looked a bit pricey for pub grub, but the burgers were surprisingly priced pretty low.

Being a non-local, I can hit this place up every day and still try a new brew. The price of the burgers means I won't complain about having my dinner there, either. Some very good beers at a reasonable price.

More User Reviews:
Photo of ilthik
4.33/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

The variety of beers available here is incredible. I've never counted them, but there are at least 50 beers on tap at any time. Prices are reasonable. Never tried the food.

Photo of Klor
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

I really like the atmosphere and the selection that they have on any given day.

Photo of Dave_Treat
4.51/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Really enjoyed my visit. Excellent section of locals and us favorites. Prices were excellent. Staff was extremely friendly. Food was excellent; tried the nachos and steak sandwich, recommend both. Will definitely try again on my next visit to Syracuse.

Photo of Edward19
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

This bar offer's a great selection for very reasonable prices. I like that the bar offers a smaller portion size than the regular 16oz draft - It saves on price and abv especially if you are driving. The beer is always fresh and I have never been disappointed with the quality of the product. They offer a menu with your typical bar food. I recommend the bam bam shrimp it goes great with a nice ipa. They offer a wide variety of styles of beer. In this era of hop craze their selection of ipa's is the largest which is definitely not a bad thing. Overall, if I am looking to drink craft beer this is the establishment that I will go to - great price for what you are getting. I have never left J Ryan's disappointed.

Photo of brianmandell
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.5

I'll keep this short. Good bar with a decent atmosphere. The food is serviceable. The beer selection is outstanding and certainly a highlight in syracuse. The bartender and service were also excellent. The bartender made suggestions and gave me tastes of multiple items I was interested in including founders sweet repute and backwoods bastard. They have some of the national standards as well as harder to find brewers in this area such as Jacks Abby and dark horse. There are also multiple taps each for bells, firestone and Avery. Bottle selection is minimal but with over 60 taps there is something for everyone.

Photo of rhubyrhod
3.51/5  rDev -20%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.5

Decided to check this place out on a trip though the area after reading about it here.

A: It's ok. Not horrible, but if any finished basement from the 80s and a Ruby Tuesdays had a baby, this would be the result. They had a pool table, a TV or 2, and that's it. I didn't come here for the atmosphere, but the people there were very friendly. It's a neighborhood joint with a side of punk.

Q, S, S: all good to very good. The beer selection was good, but after reading the reviews, I expected a little more. People rave about this place. I had a flower power which was tasty, and a Petrus Brown, which was a delight to see here, so kudos for that. Service was very good.

Overall good value, but I don't get what all the fuss is about.

Photo of MVotter
4.9/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

First time at J Ryans, Syracuse. I had heard that the beer menu was excellent and I was NOT disappointed!

We were there with a large party after a Syracuse/Villanova basketball game. We combined some tables, ordered some pitchers of Middle Ages IPA, and others in our group (including yours truly) wanted to sample a variety of brews and ordered pints.

I had a nice fresh Flower Power IPA, to start and a Founders Breakfast Stout arrived a little bit ahead of my sandwich...which, by the way I order with beer battered onion rings, the best I've ever had.

The atmosphere, as mentioned by previous reviewers, is fairly laid back. The music never gets so loud that you can't talk to the people you came to share time with, and when they played a live, circa 1989 version of The Wheel, by the Grateful Dead...I was SOLD!

If you're in Syracuse...don't miss it. 69 beers on tap...excellent food and plenty of space! Actually it reminded me of a 1/2 or 3/4 version of The Sunset Grill and Tap, Boston, MA.

Nice.

Photo of Lawl3ss
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

One of the most overlooked bars in Syracuse, it is in my opinion the only one that approaches what Clark's used to be, though in a different vein.

J Ryan's is located right on the edge of downtown Syracuse, on the edge of Hannover square, and is only a couple blocks from the Erie industrial/commercial strip and the slightly rundown James St. residential area. the location does afford it plenty of parking, however- There are free street spots available on the block every time I've been there, and that's pretty often.

Inside, it's a pretty typical American pub, tile floor, low ceiling, pool table, etc. with enough stained wood and brass to give it a marginally classy feel. Small-ish, but there is a large brick patio that is available during the relatively short periods that the weather in Syracuse is amenable. There's almost always a thorough mix of ages and backgrounds present, and it doesn't often get overly crowded like a lot of other places popular with the college crowd. They also do quite a few special events and beer tastings.

The selection here is great- they have three or four macros to satisfy the odd customer, but the other 60+ beers on tap are always rotating and usually from at least 40 different breweries. The turnover is surprisingly fast, and they generally have 5 or so new beers every week, if not more. I've never been there and not seen something I havn't tried before. The only drawback is that their beer menu isn't always up to date- luckily the servers usually mention it. They also have a cooler full of bombers to go, and there's almost always a cask ale available, usually something tasty from Middle Ages. I do have to say, though, that they sometimes "run low" after a big holiday or Syracuse Beer Week, and you'll only see 45-50 beers available while they replenish their stock.

Most importantly- they serve each beer at the temperature it was meant to be drunk, which is shockingly rare in my experience. I can't even say how much this impressed me after having to explain to a waitress at another Syracuse "beer bar" that I was waiting for my icy imperial stout to warm up when she thought I didn't like it.

The staff is exceptional, and there has been more than one occasion that I've gotten a free pitcher of one of my favorite brews for no particular reason. Free pitchers can be a dangerous thing, indeed. Otherwise, service is generally quick, the bartenders are attentive, and they always know more than you wanted to hear about the latest offerings. The kitchen staff is almost as good, and you'll often have your food in 10 minutes, never more than 20.

The food is quite good, but pretty simple. Fish sandwiches, burgers, wings, nachos, etc. The big plus is that the most expensive thing on the menu is $8.00 and the kitchen is lightning fast.

For the selection and service, this place is CHEAP! $2/2.50 daily specials (there are always two), $10 craft pitcher specials, $4 cask pints, cheap food, and free pool/darts on Sunday/Monday all add up to me getting to try more beer and hang out for hours. Most of the draughts on the menu are in the 4-6 dollar range, which I would consider average for Syracuse, but free samples and free "accident" pours are in abundance.

Overall- It's pretty chill, pretty cheap, and the staff are excellent. All of that would be nice without the stellar beer selection and genuine appreciation for what they are serving. Definitely my favorite hangout/tasting bar in Syracuse.

Photo of spinrsx
3.94/5  rDev -10.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Stopped into this place the other night to take advantage of their 2.50$ 12oz draft beer specials. Every night they have 1 or 2 beers on for this price. They have 60 beers on tap, but some are macros like Labatt Blue etc. Still a great selection of draft beers, including Founders which I didn't think was available in NY. They also have a great display case at the front of the bar filled with bombers of all kids of goodies like Alesmith and DFH. Prices were around 5-6$ for a pint of craft and I didn't try the food. The atmosphere is a little seedy but it is what it is.. Anyways, worth stopping in to try some interesting beers.

Photo of jzeilinger
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I ended up coming here as a last minute decision while traveling through the area on business. In all honesty, I was planning tpo go to Clark's Ale House, but sadly discovered it was closed. After the discouraging news I was left scrambling and didn't want to go to one of the places in the bar district because I'm not keen on over crowded bars, but for those with good beers, it's sort of expected. I discovered this place on BA, it sounded like my kind of place, and in the end, I was sold after my experience there.

A - This is a great atmosphere (IMO, personally), laid back, friendly, crowded during the usual happy hour, but subsides after that, had a nice mix of all ages enjoying really good beer and good company. One side of the bar has alot of glass facing the street, pool tables, T.V.'s, black and white tile floor, a dark mahoganey colored bar, nothing fancy. I arrived at 7:30 PM on a Thursdayand it was half full. Low ceiling, great music on the house system, eclectic selections of beer.

Q - The beer selection is pretty good. At the time of the visit: Lost Coast IPA, Great Divide Titan IPA, Racer 5, Hoptical Illusion, Horseheads Black Horse, Flower Power, Anderson Valley IPA, Green Flash West Coast IPA, Cortland IPA, Mojo, Mojo Risin', Flying Dog Snake Dog, Full Sail IPA, Sierra Nevada, Old Speckled Hen, Bear Republic Red Rocket, Cortland Red Dragon, Flying Do Doggie Style, Horseheads Brickyard Red, Ithaca Groundbreak, Anderson Valley Poleko Gold, North Coast Old Stock Ale, Rogue Dead Guy, Brooklyn Chocolate, Long Trail Coffee Stout, Youngs Old Chocolate, Scrimshaw, Jever Pilsner, Delerium Tremens, Stella, Hogaarden, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and Ovilla, Ommegang, St. Bernardus...a pretty darn fine list. Granted, this was on tap back in May of this year and I was just there a few weeks ago (Sept. 2011) and the list was HALF of what I just mentioned, I was very disappointed to say the least.

S - The bartender is very attentive even when the place gets busy! WOW! Whatta concept!!! THe times I've been there...they are always professional and friendly.

F - The first trip here I had a turkey reuban which was very, very good. The past two trips I've had the Greek salad with chicken and it was outstanding, no complaints here!!

V - Awesome place and well worth the stop. My next business trip to Syracuse will include J . Ryans.

Photo of VegasBill
4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I arrived here at noon on a Sunday and the only two other customers were just leaving, so it was a bartender, me, a server who was sitting at the bar and a female who worked at another bar who was getting toned up for work.
Once I looked at the beer selection I thought one thing, kid in a candy store!! of course Yard house has more taps but they are getting boring, who knows what surprises are at J. Ryans.So I had a Ithaca Flower Power,excellent, and a Blue Point Hoptical Illusion,excellent and a Arcadia Hopmouth, to much hops for me, can you believe I said that!! Also the bartender gave me quite a few samples and I tipped accordingly.

Photo of Hojaminbag
4.03/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

I came to J. Ryan's for the first night of the Friday the Firkenteenth cask fest. Apparently, the fest with Friday in its name actually started on Saturday. I wasn't too upset, as there were a few casks, including the beer I was really interested in trying. Anyway, I showed up in the late afternoon/early evening on a nice day. The outside seating area was packed; there wasn't a single place for my party (of 2) to sit. The inside had plenty of space, with low ceilings and a checkered floor. There are small windows on one side of the room, and the bar takes up a good portion of the left-hand corner of the building.

The tap list was great. I would guess there are 50+ beers on-tap (the official number is 69+1cask). Just a ton of NY beer, including stuff from small breweries that I don't come across in Ithaca. There were at least 5-6 beers I had not tried and were interested in. Stuff from Horseheads, Ithaca, Middle Ages, Empire, Cortland. Plenty of out of state breweries too. Ithaca Dark Humor was on cask this particular night. There are always things at J Ryan's that you cannot find anywhere else outside of New York City.

Service was not good. It took forever to get anything. Even though I had a table, it was faster to go to the bar. When I did go to the bar, it was tough to get anyone's attention. I even had to wait half an hour to get my bill after I asked for it. I threw money on table and started to walk out when it finally came. I'll give them a pass and not kill them for it because there was a pretty good crowd for the fest. It wasn't overwhelming, however, and happy hour on Friday should be pretty busy on any week I should think. At least the waitstaff was friendly when I managed to track them down.

Lots of BA s here, I could tell by the crowd and conversation. I didn't join in on this trip, but normally I would have had no problem making friends. I also noticed plenty middle-aged married men flirting with the bartenders; even for middle-aged married men they weren't smooth.

Despite the service, I will be back. The tap list is really damn good.

EDIT:
I've been to J Ryan's 5 or 6 times now. The taplist is always fantastic and reasonably priced. People are usually fairly friendly. Service at the bar has ranged from good to great, but I haven't dealt with a waitress since my first experience, and I haven't been there when it's crowded either.

Photo of fmccormi
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

J Ryan's is a great place, and currently my favorite beer bar in Syracuse. The atmosphere is fine, basically a normal bar scene, but not grungy at all and not too crowded like Blue Tusk can get. It's very much an American bar in this way -- couple pool tables, dart boards, enough seating but no special rooms or anything.

Service is fantastic. The bartenders and waiters are great, obliging, and good-spirited. The food has been a bit hit or miss for me, sometimes it's good and other times it sucks. Either way, it's generally just American bar fare, so don't expect any gastropub-type grub.

Quality of the beer served there is great. Really good stuff, though seldom anything rare or really crazy (although they do have some hard to find things once in a while, like Super Friends when it was available). Selection goes along with the quality: very good, nothing elusive (most of the time), but replete and relatively wide-ranging in style. Mostly American, though -- don't expect a lot of foreign taps at J Ryan's.

Also, J Ryan's is fairly priced. Not the kind of place that thrives on $1 PBRs, but obviously that's more than fine. Not nearly as pricey as Blue Tusk, really very much a good value in terms of high-quality craft beer.

All in all, J Ryan's is fantastic, and shouldn't be overlooked. Favorite beer bar in Syracuse.

Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I visited this place only one time and got the black and tan onion rings (delicious) and a few beers at the bar. I went at an earlier time than most would consider "happy hour," which was around 3pm on a weekday, but was still impressed by the turnout to watch Arsenal whoop ass.
The beer selection is first class, I grabbed samples of several beers before purchasing and ended up with the Ithica 13 Excelsior! which is less common and a delight to be offered on tap. This bar is one of the first I've ever seen Founders on tap at. Also, J Ryans does do growler fills, not at a great price, but still offers the option for those interested.
The bar maid was kind and catered to our sampling requests without being too pissed off for asking. The food I ordered was also timely delivered, but I have to take into consideration the fact that there was no line...

J Ryans, an overall good experience and atmosphere, I would like to try again at night when the regulars come out to party.

Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.28/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This bar is located on the outskirts of downtown Syracuse.
Nice little place with 69 taps on offer and 1 cask. They have a daily special for 2.5 $, which keeps changing regularly.
As far as my knowledge goes, they also have a 'cask beer' at all times.
Selection of beer is very good actually and at a reasonable price.
They also have some good 22 oz bombers on sale.
We had 'wings' and mozzarella sticks, which were decent, not too bad. Service is good.
Slowly becoming one of my favorite bars downtown.

Photo of mbusster88
3.95/5  rDev -10%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

This place has an every changing selection that always surprises. Every night there are two beers on special, crafts of course. Ever changing taps make for a great experience and tasting night. Sometimes a big surprise with whats available. Pitcher prices are also good. Good menu for food, especially the nachos. The porch is ideal in the summer and fall months. Service was great with really fun wait staff. Definitely a good place for a drink, and in a good location. J. Ryan's is a weekly visit!

Photo of BeerTruth
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

As others have mentioned, J Ryan's is located outside Hanover Square where MacGregor's and then Kelly Cole's used to be. Parking is easy and free, one of J Ryan's best attributes in my opinion. Lot's of tables and chairs and a good sized bar with 69 taps. There are actually a few empty tap lines in the back that I'm hoping they fill up. Food is typical pub fare with wings, sandwiches, and wraps. Now for the beer. They have four Troeg's, three Horseheads (only place in Cuse), two Roosterfish (only place in Cuse), six or so Sly Fox including Hop Project beers, Weyerbacher Insanity, amongst MANY others. Every day is a different special on two beers where you can get an 11 oz. glass for $2. Word is they plan on doing growler fills as well which would be the only bar that offers that in Syracuse (I don't count Clark's plastic milk jugs). They also have a cooler which I was told will hold bottles to go for sale. Staff is extremely friendly and will offer up any samples if you want to try before purchasing. As of now they don't have a website but Kristy does update the facebook page quite often. Prices are much cheaper than Tusk and selection is just as good if you ask me. I have no doubt in my mind that J Ryan's will be successful and look forward to visiting more often. My main request going forward? Cask beer please!!!

Photo of outincuse
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Went there last week and absolutely loved it. 69 beers on tap...I asked...I plan on trying every single one eventually. The food was standard pub fair which I always enjoy. Nachos were huge and had homemade tortilla chips. I was very impressed by the beer selection and the staffs knowledge of it. Especially since they have such a high turnover on the beer. Overall I enjoyed my experience there. I would recomend that anyone who enjoys specialty beers should make it a point to stop down and enjoy a beer. They've got something for everyone

Photo of SERowe
3.35/5  rDev -23.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 2

We were in Syracuse visiting family and decided to stop in the check out the latest incarnation of this place. Once a MacGregor's, then Kelly Cole's Improper, now after a long wait (NY State Liquor Authority moves VERY slow), it's J. Ryan's.

Not much has changed that I can see, but we did make a bee-line right for the bar and didn't wander around at all.
The tap selection was good; would have liked to see a few more Holiday Seasonal choices; there were a lot of IPAs and a few of the trendy "Imperials" and "Doubles" (not my thing, sorry). I had one of the half-pint special for 2 bucks - Horseheads Christmas Ale - which was nice, and a pint (?) of Roosterfish Nut Brown Ale - also nice.

This leads me to a nit-picky point that I can't seem to shake. Beer here is served up in mugs. Like Root Beer mugs, or Bloody Mary mugs. I'm not a fan of the standard mug. Perhaps I've become too much of a glassware snob. Maybe it's because traditionally you get a heavy mug that's big, but it's all glass with no capacity... And they served my wife a wheat beer in a mug. That just seems wrong. I'm not a fan of the ubiquitous American Shaker pint glass, but it's better than a mug. Enough on that...

We ordered some finger foods to munch on while sitting at the bar. The Onion Strings were lame. They were cold and kinda burnt and reminded me of those French's Fried onions in a can. Not what we expected. The chicken fingers were OK. Not particularly memorable, but hey they're only chicken fingers, right? I can't really comment on the menu as we didn't look at anything beyond the appetizers.

I had high expectations for the place, perhaps too high. I hope they can make a go of it, because it's about good beer, which they have, and which we need.

We'll probably visit again in the spring to see how things evolve.

Photo of dlee
4.33/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

The former MacGregors and Kelly Coles site has re-opened as J. Ryans after waiting for close to a year for a liquor license. Apparently New York state doesn't need money all that bad, but i digress.

J. Ryans has 60+ taps, with 2 different beers chosen each day for a $2 for 11oz special. Otherwise, the beer is served in 22oz (?) mugs at prices that are typically between $4 and $5.50, reasonable in comparison to their competition.

Some Breweries that are represented (from memory):

New York: Middle Ages, Landmark, Bluepoint, Saranac, Lake Placid, Ommegang

USA: Bear Republic, Great Divide, Sly Fox, Weierbacher, Clipper City, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Great Lakes, Green Flash, Flying Dog

They have a good range of styles, with practically every style represented by at least one or two beer. American style IPA's is the style that is most represented, with around 8 of them.

Not very many BMC style beers on tap, just Coors Light, Labatts and PBR. The crappy beer, ahem, i mean American style pilsner, is primarily served in bottles. I haven't seen a bottle list.

They have several new flat screen HD TV's for your sports viewing, a new pool table, and a nifty jukebox.

The food is really good. Standard American fare with wraps, and plenty of sandwiches and soups. Good quality. Wings are really good too.

The service staff is still learning the beers, so i am giving them a pass. My friend and I have helped them a number of times with where particular taps are located and what style they are. They are all friendly.

Suggestions (some of them a bit nit-picky, i know!):

- I would like to see a few more New York breweries. Notable for their absence is Southern Tier and Ithaca.

- I'm not a big fan of the mugs, would prefer a pint glass.

- I'm not a big belgian beer drinker, but that style is under-represented.

- Would love to see a cask conditioned beer

- Growler fills would be cool.

- The new HD TV's are often obstructed by the new light fixtures. They hang right in front of the site line. If they moved the fixtures up by 7 inches (yes, i measured!) they would provide much better viewing of the beautiful new TV's.


The bottom line: This is a great beer bar to hang out at. I highly recommend it. Great beer, good food, HD TV's...it has it all!

Welcome to the Syracuse beer scene, J. Ryans! You are worthy!

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J. Ryan's in Syracuse, NY
96 out of 100 based on 34 ratings.