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John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House

Your Rating: None
929 Ratings

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

2093 Smithhaven Plaza
Lake Grove, New York, 11755
United States

(631) 979-2739

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Ratings: 27 |  Reviews: 23
Reviews by vfgccp:
Photo of vfgccp
3.55/5  rDev +0.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3

Although they have a sweet happy hour consisting of $3 pints and half price aps, their beers, and their food just aren't that good. Their pride and joy, their Pumpkin Spice Ale is pretty good, including cinnamon and sugar around the edge of the glass, and they have a decent stout from time to time, but other than that it's usually nothing special. On the upside the servers are all nice, and there are a bunch of TV's by the bar if you're big into sports. If not there is a normal restaurant feel on the other side where you can grab a meal, a brew, and just relax, just remember that meal/brew will only be decent.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of crispy620
3.6/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

Photo of SwG237
3/5  rDev -15%

Photo of mmmbeerNY
4.25/5  rDev +20.4%

Photo of pjkelley82
4.25/5  rDev +20.4%

Photo of socon67
3.85/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Went here on Friday at 4pm. The atmosphere was solid. We were seated in the bar area and the happy hour crowd was filling up. Our waitress was prompt with service and I tried the sampler which she correctly mentioned which beers were included and the preferred order to drink them. Beers were interesting though not exciting. food was good and the price was fair; one appetizer, 2 entrees, a beer sampler and a soda was under $50.

I'd go back again for the experience and hope for a good mix of beer choices.

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Photo of cakeums
3.63/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

My husband and I live about 5 minutes away from this restaurant and order takeout a couple of times a month. The food is usually decent but I hadn't tried their beer since hubby didn't know if they sold growlers. (They do, he just didn't ask because - gasp - he doesn't like to drink!)

We finally went in last week for my brother's birthday and overall were happy with the experience. I have worked in restaurants for many years and thought the service and kitchen were both slow, but the waitress was friendly and competent, and the food was good (I had salmon topped with a pistachio mango salsa, hubby had the pulled pork sandwich) so that made up for it in my mind.

We had a party of 8 people and our bill, including an 18% added gratuity (which we added to for a 20% tip), was only $225. Considering we had apps, dinners, 4 of us each had two drinks and my brother had two brew samplers, it was pretty inexpensive. That same meal in the restaurant I work at would have cost at least $10 more per person.

After dinner, hubby and I went back to the bar while we waited to go see a movie at the nearby theater. I had had the Abbey Dubble with dinner, then at the bar I ordered an Altbier and the Crystal Ship. Bar service was much faster than dining room service, but the bartender was kind of at a loss for words when I asked him what the Crystal Ship was like - he was pouring a few beers (we sat in front of the taps) and all he said was that it was a "pretty good ale." I guess for a place that brews, I expected more of a description, but it was pretty busy so maybe he just had his mind elsewhere. I liked the Altbier best, then the Abbey Dubble a close second. The Crystal Ship was okay but probably not one I'd order again, it was a little lighter than I prefer.

Overall I would definitely like to go back, I think this would be a good place to just sit down at the bar, have a burger and a few pints.

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Photo of gskitt
3.55/5  rDev +0.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I live five minutes from this establishment yet never seem to have the time to go. Went there during a day of shopping over Christmas break, rather empty. Service was fine, attentive but on the whole, average. Food was good but did take a bit even though it was empty. Had a Milk/sweet stout that while thin was a tasty and enjoyable brew to have on a cold day. The place had 5 other beers available and none sounded as good as my stout. All in all, this seems to be a solid place to go and look forward to going again.

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Photo of SkunkWorks
3.1/5  rDev -12.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 1 | selection: 3 | food: 4

This is one of my favorite places to go around here. The atmosphere is great. It feels to kinda like a dive bar but with class. The food is great bar food. I love their hamburgers and fries. They also make a mean steak if you go that route.There are also always new beers coming and going. The beer tends to be on the flat side but there's usually a winner on the menu. I am generally a big fan of their red ales. It can be pretty slow at times and that's a big downside but from time to time they give you free deserts to apologize for their slowness if you're on the restaurant side. They also have a great happy hour deal... half priced beers and appetizers is hard to beat when its local beer. Worth checking out.

Edited Friday October 1, 2010.

Reduced the service to 1 because the hostesses lately have been absolutely terrible. They take forever to seat you even when its empty, they ignore you when you're waiting to be seated, and take forever to just take your name down when there's a wait.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.1/5  rDev -12.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

John Harvard's Brew Pub is a place near SmithHaven Mall around the Stony Brook University area.
Here, you really get what you'd expect. A decent selection of their own beers which sometimes will include something interesting like their own take on the Belgian dubbel and tripel. Otherwise, the food is decent and reasonably priced. Good nachos and bar food for the most part and they make a mean burger if you're into that kind of food.
Also, on Wednesday nights, there's trivia, where the winning table gets a prize, sometimes a t-shirt, other times a growler filled with John Harvard's beer.

Make no mistake... there's nothing super exciting about this brew pud, but at the same time, there's nothing to really complain about. At times, service is a little slow and unattentive, but then again, when its busy, what place isn't?

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Photo of OnThenIn
3.6/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

I have been to John Harvard's a few times now and have really enjoy it every time I have come. I really like the atmosphere, because you can choose to either sit in the bar section or the restaurant section, which are pretty well separated so the restaurant section isn't too loud. The service was fast and I was immediately seated every time I have come to John Harvard's.

The beer selection is not bad considering it is all John Harvard's beer and they rotate the selection often enough to keep it fresh. The beer is decent and so is the food, but for the local it really is one of the better bars. Both the pale ale and IPA are pretty good, but I am not sure if the quality of some of their other beers warrants getting a sampler. Overall, I had an enjoyable time every time I have gone there, but at the same time I have never gone to John Harvard's expecting very much from the place.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.48/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

This is my local brewpub and I really like it because the beer is decent, constantly rotating, and they have 1/2 price pints and 1/2 price appetizers on weekdays from 4-7. So it's worth it to go to the pub at those times especially.

Atmosphere: Very nice, casual place. Usually there's music in the background. They have several TVs and usually some sports event is on. When I go there, it's usually not very crowded and you can get a seat at the bar. But there are always people around and I've never seen it dead.

Quality: The beer is decent. It's not world-class beer but they usually have a few good options to choose from.

Service: Service is one of the low points of JH. Bar service is pretty good. But JH does not seem to do well with large parties and some of the servers have been terrible--ignoring the table, getting orders wrong, getting the bill wrong. So, sit at the bar and don't come in large groups!

Selection: Usually there are 5 or so beers on tap. They are constantly rotating, even if you go once a week there will probably be something new.

Food: The food's good. I wish they had a larger menu but I've always found something to order! The entrees are a touch pricey so I usually stick with the appetizers. Good portions, on the large side I would say.

Value: During happy hour (4-7 M-F), a pint is $3 and appetizers are probably $3-5. This deal makes it quite worth the money. So I would recommend going during those hours because you will be getting the best bang for your buck.

Overall: I love JH! I love trying their new beers and lately the quality of theirs beers has really been improving.

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Photo of steelerguy
2.95/5  rDev -16.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 2

This is one of those places that I really wanted to like but just can't say that I do. Let's rate it like I would do a beer...

A (Atmosphere) - A bit generic since it is a chain place, but honestly it is pretty good. Huge doors when you enter, lots of dark wood, glass windows to show of the brewing equipment. The bar has TVs to so you can catch "the game(s)" and lots of seating. Honestly, I like the look of the place.

Q (Quality) - Damn...this is where things go a bit downhill. I am going to lump the quality of everything in here, including the food. I don't want to nitpick, but if you go you will understand, there is just nothing special about the place and that feeling rubbed off on me on the first visit. You are a customer and nothing more, please order a beer, some food, and leave so we can seat the next person. No better than a Chili's or Applebees...maybe worse.

S (service) - No complaint here, it is what I would expect at a chain establishment. They do their job...some go a little above and beyond, others are there to collect a paycheck. For a chain place...not gonna knock it.

S - I was happy with their selection of beers. This is not a huge joint, but they do manage to offer a good number of beers, a good number of menu items, and all at a good price. They also switch up the offerings during the year.

F - Would you like a worm crawling around in your salad? No? Neither did my wife! Please wash the produce, at least get the worms out. The food is palatable but nothing special. "Well this is a chain!" you might say, well...there are chains that offer better food for the same price. This is in fact that point that kills the place for me. If they just offered really good burgers or a great sandwich that would draw me back...well...I would come back but that is not the case.

Overall, I really, REALLY wanted to like this place. In fact, I thought I did after my first visit. I soon came to realize that my sub par food was not simply a bad choice off the menu, but that all of their food was sub par. The beer is not great, but it is good and they do have a really good selection. They NEED to improve their food and they would have a winner. Who I am to judge too harshly though...I have lived here for 6 years and they still are around!

 2,278 characters

Photo of allergictomacros
3.25/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3

Came here twice over the course of a conference, and I would call it a solid OK. Has some 8 or so beers on tap, all brewed on premises. The sampler set if 5 of the less aggressive styles.

The beers themselves were all somewhat similar in some respects despite stylistic differences. All seems a high fruitiness and breadiness. Overall though, the beers are uninspired.

Being a chain restaurant, it has a faux feel to it, from the stale foccacia bread service to the restaurant/bar division. Menu is uninspiring and the food is only OK.

Servers didn't have a lot of beer knowledge, describing a honey ale as budweiser with honey. (Which incidentally, was nasty...) Small samples were volunteered so it's not quite a crapshoot. Not overly expensive either. No complaints about the service though, but I think the overall averageness of the establishment as a whole drags down the impression.

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Photo of libertysttav
2.33/5  rDev -34%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3 | service: 1 | selection: 3

We went to Long Island to visit Blue Point and Brooklyn Breweries.We thought we'd try to hit a few of the brew pubs while in the neighborhood. This one was listed on a map we got at the hotel. But the map was very confusing. Showed the pub on the south side of a major road but it was actually on the north side and behind some other malls. a call to the place was not helpful but our waiter at the japanese restaurant gave us good directions.

Anyway, on entering the place was pretty busy. We stood around for a minute but no one approached us. So we wandered into the bar area. There we found a small table filled with half drank beer glasses. we sat down and waited for the waiter to approach us. After walking past us at least a dozen times I asked if we could get a beer. he practically screamed at me, " PEOPLE ARE WAITING FOR THESE TABLES!!". then he turned and walked away. i asked , "were you gonna tell me or just let me sit here??" but i don't think he heard me.

so, i went up to the bar and got a porter.
it was dark,creamy and enjoyable.

Needless to say I will not return. But they are doing fine without my $$.

 1,128 characters

Photo of BrewMaven
4.13/5  rDev +17%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I've been meaning to go here for quite a while and Finally made it!

Interior was large and softly lit with dark wood tables and chairs. Brewing apparatus is visible in the center of the floorplan.

Service was prompt, courteous and pleasant. Menu choices were similar to the chains and the food was tasty, portions ample and priced fairly.

I ordered their IPA with my meal and it was hoppy, citrusy and not overly chilled...Good.

Midway through my meal my waiter brought me samples of the pale ale and a pils that were also very enjoyable. The pale ale was malty and smooth with a good hop kick and the pils was refreshing, slightly buttery and very drinkable.

I'm already planning to return here with friends. Highly recommended!

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Photo of maddogruss
3.43/5  rDev -2.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

This place took me by surprise from the get go. I've been to the John Harvard's in Wayne, but the one in New York was totally different. To start off, me and my girlfriend were welcomed with seasoned Italian bread and olive oil with pepper. This totally took me by surprise, as the other John Harvard's did not have this, nor any brew house I've been to before (I think it was due to the fact that there is a strong Italian cultural influence in Long Island). But now, for the important stuff. This place is pretty nice overall; typical brew house where you can watch them make the beer through a glass case in the middle of the restaurant (typical of a John Harvard's). The beer selection was pretty good; they have about 10 or 11 of their own on tap. I sampled a few of them and they were ok; I did like their porter, though. The service was pretty good; the waitress was asking my girlfriend and I if we wanted another beer when we were about 3/4 done with our current one which I liked a lot. The food was pretty good, typical of a brewpub type place. They had good burgers and fries, and my girlfriend said here salad was pretty good too. The pricing was reasonable - maybe almost cheap for a New York place. My burger only cost about $7 (and it was a solid, bacon cheeseburger) and my girlfriend's was about the same, but her salad was pretty good. I think the overall bill was around $40 or $50, including tip and 2 or 3 beers each. I'd go back again, as they didn't have a couple of their beers I wanted to try on tap. Overall, the place was pretty good.

 1,562 characters

Photo of rickcampie
3.25/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Well this is the 2nd John Harvard locationive been to. I live next the Union Sq in Providence. and it may well be the last. Boring, beers which like the Rock Bottom chain are named differently and confusingly at every location; the names are often the best things about them. Beer was good, so was the food but that's about it. Atmosphere and service were horrible. From the little electronic pager that alerted me that my table was ready even though I was standing right in front of the hostess who just took my name 30 seconds ago, to being waited on and served by a busboy .i wouldnt go out of my way to get here again.

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Photo of lehows
3.85/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

A buddy of mine lives down the street and we always hit this place when I'm in the area. The Smithhaven mall is also across the street so thats usually the trade off when im dragged to the mall. The place is a chain restaurant and the decor is much nicer than what you'd find in say, Applebee's or something of the sort. From the outside it doesnt look too inviting, a bland red lettered sign adorns a cement style building. The ivy growing on the outside actually makes it look better. But, its whats inside that counts. The beer is usually good and they are always rotating a good number of seasonals. Everything from the usual stuff like Oktoberfest to others like an Altbier, Old ale, barleywine, etc. Their most popluar brew is definitely the Pumpkin Ale, which they usually run out of. Last year they brewed a Christmas Red Ale, which was pretty good too. I wasn't that impressed with the Oktoberfest. Over the summer I had a Rocky Point Pilsener made with locally grown hops and it was great. If they have the Chupacabra Barleywine on tap while you're there, get it it's incredible. I would skip the food though, except for the pubfare/appetizers, which are decent. The head brewer recently stepped down and passed the reins to his assistant, and so far it looks like hes doing an equally good job. This place is worthy of a stop if youre in the area.

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Photo of BBM
3.7/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I've been here many times, mainly because the beer is always solid and always rotating (so there's many varieties to choose from). The atmosphere is dark wood and dimly lit, with minimal crap on the walls (ala most chain restaurants). There is a fairly large bar and plenty of seating. Huge brew kettles line the wall toward to middle of the place for a nice effect.

The beer is always quality, and the service is always fast and friendly. They're even pretty knowledgable about beer. The beer is the real reason to go, though. The food is OK, sometimes good and other times not. It is decently priced though. For me personally I keep coming back for their beer and desserts (pumpkin cheese cake, yum). The food I could take or leave.

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Photo of plaid75
3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 2.5

The bar area is large and comfortable. A nice rectangular oak bar with plenty of stools is surrounded by ample booth and table seating. Televisions are present, but grouped in one corner of the bar area. The stain glass with the Jerry Garcia face was a nice touch.

The selection was very good - nine John Harvard beers on tap, one being on cask.

They offer a beer sampler, which consists of five four ounce tastings.

The beer was generally of good quality as far as brewpubs go. They offer 10 oz, 16 oz, 22 oz and pitcher portions. Also, growlers and kegs are available as well.

The food was disappointing overall, although the nachos were good. A large dinning room with a viewof the copper tanks.

The service was supper friendly, as the manager and bartender were eager to get my opinion on the beers. They offer $5 off coupons for those who are there for the first time.

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Photo of ChuckD
3.4/5  rDev -3.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Had lunch at Harvard's today.

Typical wood and brass interior. Comfortable - but nothing new. Not very crowded so we were seated fairly quickly. The staff was very friendly and knowledgable.

They have 6-7 beers available from light lagers to winter seasonal. I stuck with two pints of the Impy - which is excellent.

Food was predictable but was hot and tasty. I'd say the overall cost was in the moderate range.

Overall - I'd go back. If you don't like imperial stout, the beers are somewhat pedestrian - drinkable but nothing special.

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Photo of oldirtycaffrey
4.08/5  rDev +15.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

Excellent brewery in Suffolk County on Long Island. The atmosphere is classy and cozy -- darkly lit restaurant, nice sized bar, dark brick walls. You feel at home as soon as you enter.

The quality of the beer selection is excellent -- from the amazing Imperial Stout, to ambers and lagers, to seasonal far such as the Pumpkin Ale and Holiday Red. There's usually about 6-10 different beers to choose from.

The service is also excellent - the wait staff knows their beer. Food and drinks come out quick and come out right.

I've had several different things here -- from a wrap to a burger -- and it's always been good. When dining with four people, everybody loved their individual meals. Also, the prices are reasonables -- with the beers ranging from $4-6 for a pint; and the dinners/entres ranging from $10-25

My favorite brewery on Long Island.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.25/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

Back when this place opened up, a bunch of my ultra-hip friends went all the time and even bought those pewter mugs along the bar with their names engraved..losers. Eventually, this place lost favor as others opened up but I still go every once in a while since the food isn't bad and the beer is at least worth checking on.
I went tonight with my girlfriend after she finished her night classes for a bite and a brew. It's located right along Rt. 347 dead in the center of the island, right next to the Smithaven Mall. The decor is English pub style with some cool decorations, including Jerry Garcia's face in a priest's robes, which is kind of cool. Also, they have the copper kettles out in the open, which is always a plus. Service was spotty at eleven at night but not horrible. The food is generally decent, although this time Meaghan only had a salad, which was predictably okay. I think our waitress had been sampling the goods for quality so to speak, but maybe that's just because my girlfriend thought the girl was hitting on me..
Beer was passable. Only six beers were available and one was the crappy Long Island Light Lager that's always there, which was slightly disappointing. I like the Pumpkin Spice Ale, which is served with cinnamon and sugar on the rim of the glass, which doesn't hurt. My girlfriend had the West Coast IPA, which I had to help her finish, which means it was good. Then I finished with a Mad Tom's Old Ale, which was also drinkable, but suprisingly sweet.
This is an old standby for a local like me but not really worth going out of your way if you're coming a distance.

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Photo of jakester
3.7/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

Got to the place on a Friday @ lunch. This was my first visit to a John Harvards. Most of the lights in the dining area were turned off, which was maybe a little weird, but it was lunchtime. Very spacy on the inside. The fermenters were in plain view from the dining area. I always think that gives a nice touch. I started with a Hoppopotamus DIPA, which was served way too cold. The Double Trouble Bock, although too cold, was excellent after it warmed up a few minutes.

The service was good, and the food was very good. My wife had lobster bisque and a portobello mushroom wrap which were excellent. The bread was outstanding. There were four of us, and we would definitely return. I would like to try the place for dinner. My only complaint was the beer was too cold to really taste unless you allowed it to warm up.

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John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House in Lake Grove, NY
Brewery rating: 3.57 out of 5 with 929 ratings
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