John Harvard's Brew House

Your Rating: None
John Harvard's Brew HouseJohn Harvard's Brew House
937 Ratings
John Harvard's Brew HouseJohn Harvard's Brew House

Type: Brewery, Eatery

629 W.Lancaster Ave
Wayne, Pennsylvania, 19087
United States

(610) 687-6565

// CLOSED //

No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate

Linked Beer Listing
BA Score:
View: Beers | Place Reviews
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 17 |  Reviews: 17
Photo of sholland119
3.05/5  rDev -18.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

Just a note that this place is closed. I have reported the update but it has not been noted in the official profile so it you were thinking of going... rest assured that you really did not miss much.

(I need to add 301 characters to get this post to, well, post. So I will add that this was our least favorite John Harvard's of the three in our area, all of which are now closed. This one somehow held on longer than the others. The location would be perfect for another quality beer bar along Rt. 30 or the Septa R5, though the walk from the station is a bit longer than either TND, TJ or Flying Pig.)

That should do it!

 623 characters

Photo of scottbrew4u
3.13/5  rDev -16.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

For a Sunday afternoon during football season, this place was nearly empty. The elevated bar and fermenting tanks were very appealing when first getting inside. Seats were comfortable and lighting was low and just right for the environment. TV's were numerous and the seats were comfortable.

Here is where it starts to go down hill a bit. The person who greeted us seem flustered and we couldn't tell why. It was not that busy. The servers were not very knowledgeable. The first beer I ordered was a cask conditioned IPA called Insomniac. It was a pretty average IPA. The hot wings were pretty decent and the menu was above average in selections for a brewpub. They did not have the next beer I ordered even though it was listed as their special on the board by the door. I had the James Brown Ale instead which turned out above average. The meatloaf I ordered was excellent and the potatoes were very good too but the onion rings were below average.

The setting was great I thought, very neat and clean and the food was good and the beer is worth trying more of so I will have to give it another try.

 1,106 characters

Photo of maddogruss
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

This place is a nice little brew pub tucked away in the suburbs of Philly.

Atmosphere: A well-rounded brewpub. You walk in, there's a nice, square bar on the left that has a decent selection of beer there, less the homebrew stuff. You immediately see the microbrewery across from the entrance with various barrels to the left of it (usually about 5 or 6) with the brewpubs beers.

Quality: I'd say the beer here is pretty good. They have a fair variety in regards to breadth of style and what not from what the brewpub offers itself.

Service: The service is actually not too bad, coming back multiple times to check on you, especially when you are drinking. Usually, when you are just about finished with one, they will be asking you what you want to have next.

Selection: Like I said, they do have a fair selection of beers here, but this is definitely a place to come and get what they are brewing. Definitely worth the trip. I had their pale ale, which was not bad at all.

Food: The food there is typical of most brewpubs and I had the typical brewpub item: a nice, juicy burger and fries. The burger was pretty good; about the same of going to a Friday's or something like that.

Value: I'd say this place is pretty reasonable. Did not really put a dent in my pocket and I would definitely go back there again.

 1,330 characters

Photo of treehugger02010
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

I really do enjoy this place,
Atmosphere: This brew pub certainly tries to make the place feel more or less relaxed. They have two pool tables, which is a bit rare around here.
Quality: Their food and beers are execllent, and very high quality.
Service: The service is very good. The one complaint I do have is that the staff doesn't seem to know the beers too well. I would say that they knew them better than other places, but they tend to talk out of ignorance anyway.
Selection: They always seem to have a good selection of beers, both seasonal and year-round. Their food is that of a typical brew-pub.
Food: The food it pretty good, but not outstanding.
Value: The value of what you get to what you pay for is certainly very reasonable. Plus they have good happy hour specials.
Don't drink and review.

 814 characters

Photo of instrumentality
3.23/5  rDev -13.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5

This was one of four stops I made in the Boston area during a recent trip to New England, and the one by which I was by far the least impressed.

The surroundings were dimly lit, mostly dark wood, plenty of space, perhaps 20 tables along with a decent sized bar. The music was so-so, mostly disco and classic rock from the likes of Heart and Kansas.

We arrived on a Monday afternoon (11/13/06), which would explain why it was pretty dead. What boggled my mind was that as dead as it was, the service utterly ignored us for most of our visit despite the fact that we were sitting at the bar and the entire staff was chatting away just a short distance away.

I ordered the Hopback Rye on cask (a rotational option) and my girlfriend ordered the sampler, which consisted of five brews (I believe it was something like a pilsner, a pale ale, a porter, a stout, and a pumpkin ale). There was also a "dubbel time ale" (Belgian style dubbel) which neither of us tried. Everything she had was tasty. My rye beer was flat and virtually flavorless. I took two sips and then sat there for 20 minutes waiting for someone to stop by so I could request something else. When someone finally did show up, I was ready to leave, and he was kind enough not to charge me as he explained to me that cask beers are naturally carbonated and often seem flat to some people (news to me, but ok).

At one point, I looked around and saw that there were several small groups of students, so I gave the bartender the benefit of the doubt to some extent and assumed he was just used to leaving people alone and probably figured I was studying when I was writing down my review.

I'd consider giving this place another chance if I went back, but I was so impressed by some of our other stops and there are so many more places I want to try that it may not be worth the effort.

 1,857 characters

Photo of HimerMan
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

I went here after my first trip to BeerYard - they suggesting going since it was just about a mile down the road.

Atmosphere was nice, plenty of room, large booths as well as tables. I was with my girlfriend and we had plenty of room in a 4-person booth. Only down-side was that there was smoking, NJ's ban on smoking in all public places really is a nice touch to restaurants.

Food - I thought the chicken enchiladas were excellent, as my girlfriend thought the Asian quesdillas and salad were also. I would come back for the food alone, sure beats going to a more mainstream location along Lancaster Ave.

Beer - Their ultimate sampler was nice, great way to try every beer they have (and was cheap). My biggest drawback was their lack of stouts or porters as many of their beers were either IPA or another form of a golden ale. (Yes, it is summer time - but they could have done an Oatmeal Stout, the Snozzberry was too fruity.)

Specialty Beers - Outstanding. The Bourbon Sue very limited quantity brew is to be reviewed today. Check on that in time. I really like their prices (moderate/cheap) while still having high quality. I await a change-up of their 9 beers.

Overall though, I will be back in a few weeks to have one of my limited brew liter bottles filled. I am hoping that they bring in a heavy stout or something like it.

If you go to BeerYard - you should head here too.


 1,412 characters

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

I drove out onto the “Vain Line” for some lunch on two separate afternoons to see what this place is all about. From my experiences, it really pays to research the beers before you arrive.

The over all decor of this place is centered around dark hardwoods. I‘m learning that this is the JH MO. Everything is dark and dreary, but in a rustic sort of way. When you enter the building, you get the darkness up front at the “wait here to be seated” choke point. As we waited, I could see, off to our left, the big square bar, proudly raised up off the ground over looking the neat line of stainless steel tanks behind a short wall with a railing. Around the bar were a few tables and two red felt pool tables. We were guided straight ahead along the right side of the building into a small booth that was shielded from the main bar, across from some copper brewing vats. An enormous party was seated across from us which understandably drew the attention of our server. Further back in the building was a cozy dining nook with a large stone fireplace and a generally more classy feel. Towards the far side of the restaurant, behind the bar was another section that has a very traditional family dining feel to it. Sadly, on our second visit here as we were seated in this area, we couldn’t really tell what our beers looked like as there’s no bright light sources. On a final note, the stock casino carpeting was sadly present here as well. Over all, I enjoyed the openness this building provided with the vast selection of seating options and (dark hardwood) high ceilings.

The beers we tried on our first impromptu visit, the Maibock and the Abbey Dubble, were disappointingly average at best. The quality of these two beers deterred us from ordering a second round. After rendering a negative review of this JH, with an inside scoop on some better beers to try, we returned to see what we missed out on with this advanced information at our disposal. The second time, I tried the IPA which was both fantastic, unique and it paired well with my meal, punching through the vinegar and lemon laden fish and chips I ordered. But what blew my mind was the Snozzberry stout. The stout on its own was pretty good, but when paired with the ricotta cheese cake, it blew my mind. This is arguably the best beer and desert pairing I’ve ever tried. This alone is worth a visit and is probably going to bring me back to try it again. So on two visits, I had two entirely different experiences. The moral I learned is that you have to do your research before you come here. There are some not-so-hot beers available, but there are also a couple of gems here if you look for them.

On our first visit, the food came about halfway through our pints. Nice! I got a buffalo chicken salad and my girlfriend got their chicken potpie. Both were all right, but nothing to write home about. I don’t know if it’s the chef’s preference, but all of the chicken came in “giant chunk” format. In the salad, this wasn’t all that bad, but finding half an entire chicken breast in a potpie seemed a bit odd to me. It just seemed that minimal effort could be applied here to make a world of difference in quality. Or maybe that’s just how the chef likes it. What ever. During round two, things went well again. The food was very tasty and satisfying, but nothing ground-breaking.

Our first time, our server was very fast and friendly. The only problem was that huge party that was sat in our section and he took a long time getting our bill when food came out for them. I don’t blame the guy for that at all, so I won’t dock the service points. The second time, about the same thing happened. With a different waiter in a different section of the building, four separate tables were seated while we waited for our bill. There was a little awkward wait, but nothing I would hold against our server.

Over all, my experiences here have been pretty good but the beers here are kind of hit-or-miss. This visit was a spur of the moment decision, so I didn’t have the ability to research what’s hot here. The second time, I already knew what I wanted to drink when I walked in the front door and this had a tremendous impact on our experience. So, if you plan on stopping by, you should probably figure out what’s hot in advance instead of randomly wading through a couple of disappointing beers. As far as the food, for the Vain Line, I expected a little more. That being said, I’ll come back for the cheese cake and Snozzberry Stout again for sure.

 4,547 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Almost forgot to review this place since I always hit it after the Beer Yard to snag a plate of nachos and a pint and scoot back to the Bat Cave. Plenty of parking first of all, and inside is a basic dark wood oasis. All around is dark dark wood. Some years of slinging brews is starting to show on the worn bar but who is complaining? I'd take this place near my pad any ole day o' the week! Food is decent, reasonable prices and the waitstaff actually gives a damn about the beers. Credit to their creativity! They actually brew good stuff beyond the ho-hum browns and pales. Today, I had a Biere de Garde, an oak aged doppelbock and a tripel is for sale in the swing top litre, and a King IPA with simcoe is on tap. Too bad that I missed the Belgian IPA. Oh well! I dig John Harvards and yes, bring Mother one day to dig the ambiance, the red velvet pool tables and the monk reliefs in the walls. Join the mug club if yer local!

 931 characters

Photo of slander
4.13/5  rDev +10.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I thought we were done. Rock Bottom, Iron Hill, and then the Victory 10 party. My shoes were swimming in Vitamin E's beer and I was pretty well beered out, I think we all were, so finally en route to the hotel, the surprise of the evening came from the back seat, in the form of a low moaning at first. Out of the corner of his mouth, without moving his lips, Spesh quietly spoke, "What the hell was was that?" And then it came again, "chaaain breeeewpub". I thought we were out of the woods on this. "Um, Phil, we did that already, hell, we did two of 'em", and he sits up sharply and says, "Yeah, but three chain brewpubs, in a single day, will look most sweet, on my beer, res-uh-may". I'm like, "Whatever, ticker", but really, the food thing seemed a pretty good idea at this point...
I have no idea where I am. It's dark and I'm a-scared, and what? We're going to have to wait how long for a table? I said something that was funny to us, but not so funny to the host guy that I said it to, and we retreated to the bar to wait. It's an interesting layout here. A large rectangular bar seating 2 dozen+ sits in an elevated area in the center of the room. Glass dimple mugs hang running the perimeter and growlers on the corners. Tap selections on blackboards above the bar, signs depicting scenes from the life of John Harvard all about, as well as stained glass panels of biblical figures with photograph faces (JFK, Garcia, Teddy Roosevelt). From this elevated bar area, you can pretty much look out over the whole place, survey all this is yours. There's a bar counter on one side of the bar, overlooking a small dining area pen holding a dozen table and booths. To the rear of this seating area, a hadful of copper kettles in a glass front half a hexagon room and another seating area behind that to the far rear with some dozen tables. On the opposite side of the bar, a pair of booths beyond which lies the larger dining area, roughly a dozen and a half tables and booths. On the third side of bar, 3 booths below a large projection TV overlooking a row of 7 fermenters in a pen. The last side of the bar is an openish area with a pair of pool tables. A musical performer would later set up just off this side. TV's here and there, exposed ducts and spot lighting over the bar area.
8 taps and a cask (IPA). The sampler brought it all. The All American Lager was a standard light; the Harvard's Pale Ale floral & hoppy; the ESB had a good bitterness to it; the Munich Dunkel well malty; the Smokey the Beer Porter was thinnish and had only a glimmer of smokiness to it; the Bourbon Sue, their Dopple on nitro, was bourbonny, and crazy sweet; the Belgian Threat Triple had a slight Belgian flavor but was very nicely spicy; the Old Eagle Wheat Wine was sweet alcohol; and the cask IPA pleasant, smooth, hoppy, floral.
I seem to recall picking at something dinnerish. It was an enormous chicken pot pie from Crazytown and it was damn good. Flakey crust hat, huuuge chucks of chicken, good veg-a-ta-bles. Service, well I know they provided it because my beer sampler and chicken pot pie showed up, but I was somewhat beaten up at this point, so that was good. One of the better Harvard's locations I've seen, based on number and range of selection, of course.

 3,270 characters

Photo of Phatz
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This brewpub is in a good location. It is very easy to find ;) and we had a great experience. Thanks to a BA review from HopGod (Sanatoga, Pennsylvania) we heard about the Beer Yard, (a nearby distributor) which was an even better experience. When we walked into JHBH, I was immediately impressed with the number of beers they had available on tap. We had just come from Victory brewpub, which has a bit of a cool grunge feel to it. JHBH felt extremely formal at that point, so I was set back a bit. We got a bar tender as a sever. Then things turned very quickly when we started talking beer. The staff seemed notably intelligent about the beer and extremely interested in finding the answers they did not know. The service was FAR beyond the call of duty; so far in fact, the classification of exceptional doesn't cut it. We got SMALL tour of their brewing process; it is quaint. The beer was all decent. We had maybe eight or nine different beers and they were all good but not all mind blowing. Including: Pumpkin Spice, Bitter Insanity, Irish Stout, Nut Brown Ale, Pale Ale and others. The one EXCEPTIONAL beer was an Alt. that was on cask. They do have others, which will be available in a few weeks including a Barley Wine. We did not eat a meal there so I can only comment on the appetizers, which were very good. They did have a unique and what I would call classy selection of food. In summation it is worth the stop, but maybe not a special trip (from our distance anyway).

Hope this is helpful.
EDIT: We visited JHBP again this weekend and were again pleased. Not quite the same level of service as the first time we were there but the meatloaf was very good and I had there ESB to drink and I was pleased with the stop.
Hope this is helpful.

 1,788 characters

Photo of cubedbee
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Stopped in here while driving through the city. Very large place, with a huge square wood bar and plenty of seating. Clear windows right next to the bar show tanks of what is brewing, and a chalkboard sign shows the current brews, abv, and date brewed. I picked a bad day to go, as only 5 of the 9 brews were available. The beers were rather mediocre---I enjoyed the IPA and the rasberry wheat, but I wouldn't try any of the others again. Only ordered appetizers, but the nachos and the wings were both very good, and the service was fast and friendly. Given its proximity to my brother's school, I could see my self stopping here again and hoping to try the other brews, including the cask.

 691 characters

Photo of vladtheimpaler
3.6/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Was there after a Beer Yard visit, for lunch. Big square bar in the center of the building, with dining in all directions. Brewing equipment if off to one side. Neat setup, if I can say so myself. Big band music was blaring over the speaker system, adding to a pleasant atmosphere. Beer was average at best, leaning toward fruit beers, which is not my thing. Food seemed decent enough, if not very good. I enjoyed my visit, but was not very impressed by the beers, which perhaps is the whole point of stopping in.

 513 characters

Photo of ark57
3.75/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Chain restaurant meets brewpub. It is not a bad place, but also not the best. The real reason to go is the beer. They had 9 beers on tap when I was there. A decent selection and most of them were pretty good. The food is slightly above average. The menu has some interesting choices (I had the fried chicken with andouille, shrimp, and artichokes), but the execution is where it fell a little flat for me. It's not like it was hard to eat the food, but it was lacking a certain flare or spice that is more of an intangible. I am no food critic so I will stop there. The portions are generous, though. The service was friendly and prompt and the atmosphere has a cookie cutter feel with a brewery type flare. Not a bad experience, but there are much better places to visit.

 772 characters

Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

A real quality place to go and eat and enjoy some quality brews,a huge place that could fit a few hundred I think,I really like the stained glass windows with it looked like patron saints on the windows?The food that me and my wife have had there has been very good from the bayou chicken to the crab stuffed cod.Both times a real nice cute server who seems to really care about you was real nice and out of the ordinary I have found around here.The beer selection has a decent amount of seasonals like a holiday red and mai bock along with some rotating beers like the toasted oatmeal stout and imperial ipa,there regular offerings though are not all that great.All in all a place that if I lived closer to I would frequent more for sure.

 739 characters

Photo of IrishRedRock
3.9/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

The JHBH in Wayne has been a frequent stop for me over the past 4 years I have lived down here in PA. It's a nice, large, open comfortable restaurant, and the bar in the center is rather large and accomodating as well. A place I have come many many times with my family for dinner, and a place I come with my buddies for some quality pints. The food is pretty damn good too, and I don't think I have ever shown up here and not ordered the spinach and artichoke dip. It's a must have, whether as an appetizer before dinner or with your beers. The service has always been friendly and the wait staff is knowledgable, even a little bit about the beer. Food prices are pretty good, and pints run between 3.50 and 4.50. My friends and I frequent the Friday happy hour (4:30 -7), which features a dollar off all pints. $2.50 for a pint of good beer is right up my alley!

They generally have around 8-10 beers on tap, all their own brews mind you, and one on cask. The cask usually seems to be their Pale Ale, which is delightful on cask, although I have seen their Milk Stout and Scottish Ale on cask as well. All their beers are generally pretty good, though some are better than others. This JHBH seems to do stouts quite well, as their Milk Stout is one of the best beers I've tasted. Pale Ale, Lager, and one fruit beer are always standards, and they rotate other beers in and out pretty frequently. A great place to come with the family, the kids, or whoever! If you're there on a Friday, you're likely to see me at the bar!

 1,527 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Some may say that all John Harvard's are alike, but I say not. This location was the first in the Philadelphia area and it remains the best. The parking lot is huge (thanks to the old Main Lion that was here previously) and the building is nice. It's decorated with the "traditional" John Harvard's regalia; and it's kept well (although the "stained glass" windows/pictures are starting to show age. The food is good (although there have been some rough spots), and the beer follows suit. I love the fact that I can stop in almost any night of the week and get a plate of fries and a cask-conditioned ale that's in good shape!!!! The menu and regular beers might be the same as other J.H. locations, but the specialties are what gives the place character! Definitely give the seasonal beers a try!!! The only drawbacks are that the service can be lacking (some of the servers are great - others are pathetic - management doesn't seem to care) and that it gets packed on weekends... so come early, or come during the week. Enjoy!

Update: This store has slowed down quite a bit on the restaurant side, so it's no longer busy; and they've even removed the dinind area adjacent to the bar and put in two pool tables. For a while it was looking quite run down, but now it's been cleaned up and the only flaw that remains are the now washed-out 'stained-glass' light panels. The beers are still top-notch, and the brewers here are quite creative, always keeping a few interesting beers on tap. Still recommended.

 1,509 characters

Photo of ecoboy
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

My companion and I were on a Middle Atlantic brewpub tour and after an exhausting January first, finding four pubs in a row closed on the holiday, we dropped our arms by our sides and went back to this old standby.

Now I can do this one of two ways: for the JH newbie or for someone with chain familiarity.

Newbies should know that John Harvard's Brewing started in Cambridge, MA with one of the holy grails of brewing: the original JH location. A must-visit in Boston. The menu is extensive at every location and Wayne did not disappoint with terrific fish and chips, potstickers and a house salad with dressing choices beyond the italianfrenchbluecheese1000island. The beer selection is British Isles-centered and consistently excels in quality.

Two issues may color my review. It was happy hour and the place was only sparsely filled. Price and service does matter after all. But the bartender (Steve) went way beyond, in terms of respecting a beer traveller, giving us directions to the Liberty Brewing company (really NOT easy to find) and discussing what he though were the worthy Philadelphia area pubs.

The IPA (Nor'easter, not Old Willy) was my companion's choice. I went with the pale: Extra malty/extra hoppy if compared to the British counterpart, but neither overpwered each other or the drinker. Had an oatmeal stout for dessert and, while disappointed that it was served at 35ish degrees (kept the flavor too subtle, so that it couldn't keep up the fight against the vinegar and lemon of the fish and chips,) id did seem like a good example of a classic style.

Nothing will surpass the mother church in Cambridge, but this is my second favorite JH of the five I've been to.

 1,703 characters

John Harvard's Brew House in Wayne, PA
Brewery rating: 3.58 out of 5 with 937 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.