We cut the road to Philadelphia in two by sleeping in Albany on a Friday night. Mahar’s was packed. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the place with its random, old beer smelling furniture and general dirtiness, but people seem to be having a good time, so that helps. I like the express service bar area though. Crowd consisted mostly of late-20s, early-30s. As far as beer goes, they had a solid tap list for upstate NY stuff and the few broad distribution imports, but I was still happy to try Celebrator on tap, though I could have lived with a cheaper price than 9$ per pint. Middle Ages is particularly well represented. The bottle selection, while good, does not contain so many rarities. The 300 suggested bottles on the ratebeer page must be outdated a fair bit. It must be closer to a hundred and the times of the odd bird from Captain Lawrence seems to be past. Not particularly friendly service, but chracaterful. Still a solid selection, but this would not be top 10 in NYC.
I like this place...try to get here whenever I pass through (which is not easy as it isn’t that close to the main highways for a traveler). Part of why I may like it more than others is that I only get here a couple of times a year. I get this place...and the atmosphere...love the selection...and don’t find things too expensive coming from north NJ and often drinking in NYC. I agree with the reviewer that says this place would rank a bit lower if in NYC...given the competition it would face there...but for the area it is quite good. The word "eclectic" comes to mind too. Any true craftbeer traveler needs to check this place out while passing through and decide for themselves. They will likley be glad they came as long as they are not in a rush or come when it is too crowded.
Great bottle list, but after some investigation, most of what they had there was available in bottles at Oliver’s. The taps were a bit disappointing that day (mostly mid-range and easily accessible imports and locals), but I did manage to find a few rare ones in the bottles. Not quite up there with Blue Tusk in Syracuse or even Smokeless Joe’s in Toronto, but still the kind of bar I’d like to have in my city.
A very nice, relatively quiet, clean, mature-audience English-style pub that was surprisingly subdued on a Friday night when we (myself,CapFlu,MartinT,Tiggmtl,Lubiere) rolled in. Scanning the taps, disappointment set in; only 4 I’d not had. The bottle list, while large, wasn’t terribly exciting. We managed to get some interesting stuff (Welsh and Armenian beers, woo woo), and don’t get me wrong this would be a fine bar in most cities, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the top beer bars in the US I’m afraid. Still, top choice in the NY Capital region as far as I know.
A bit disappointing after reading the over-hyped reviews on another site. The tap selection was no better than OKAY and the huge beer bible was mostly standards that were easily accessible in a well stocked bottleshop. The crowd was mainly college-kids hanging-out and behaving drunk. The Welsh beer on-tap was cool but I got tired of this place somewhat quickly... or maybe I’m just bitter because I couldn’t find a chair?
Cletus (233) Connecticut | January 1, 2006| Updated December 11, 2006
Looks like a European pub with taps all over the walls. Decent tap list and nice bottle selection. Better than other bars in Albany, but not near the selection I was anticipating given the hype surrounding this place.
The nice thing about the throng of people surrounding the door smoking is that once you have crossed the threshold the air becomes clean. Long narrow bar almost the length of the establishment. Fairly functional seating areas although not nearly enough seating available. (Don’t know what CapFlu is complaining about - he was the first to sit down!). We were there late on a Friday evening and the bar was surprisingly not crowded. College age crowd buzzing and chatting but generally not rowdy. Main complaint is that they closed at midnight which seemed a bit early. Service was prompt and they were fairly knowledgeable about their beers and used appropriate glassware. I found the selection to be good although as noted by MartinT, most of these beers are available at Oliver’s. Still it was nice to sample some new beers in a social environment and the prices were generally not outrageous. Perhaps not a world-class establishment but definitely the type of palce everyone would wish to have in their city and a must if you’re visiting Albany.
I have been to Mahars when visiting Albany. The place alwyas has a good selection usually with a few oddballs and things you don’t see often. The bartender is not the nicest guy and seems to have a bit of an attitude and is kind of scary but if you get your order in fast and get the beer and go drink at a table you should be fine. I like that you are able to print out the list of the beers they currently have so you can attempt to try them all. Worth a stop if you are in the area.
shadey (89) Nashville, Tennessee | December 1, 2004| Updated December 17, 2004
This is a very small pub with less than a dozen tables, but it has a huge selection of beers. There might be a dozen or so beers on tap, with many more available in bottles. The staff was very knowledgable but quite arrogant. He was far more welcoming to the folks I was with, but he was almost contemputous when he found out I knew a little bit about beer. I felt like I had offended him in some way, because he started bragging about his regular clients and how BeerAdvocate said he was the best in the country. I would have truly loved the place if the bartender hadn’t been so arrogant.
Typical ,taps on the wall, decor of many beer bars. Didn’t really like the set up, unusual stables that interrupted the flow of the place. Fairly crowded when I was here and it was hard to find a seat. Some fairly interesting taps and huge selection of bottles. Not alot of mind blowing beers, but you are sure to find plenty of great stuff. I managed to get a bottle of 2004 Heavyweight Old Salty. There are better beer bars, but this place aint bad.