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Tuesday, June 06, 2006
John Harvard's Brew House in Cambridge, MA
Ah, the hallowed halls of Harvard.....Harvard Yard.....The Charles River.....The original John Harvard's Brew House in Cambridge, MA. The rich tradition of Boston's collegiate scene starts at Harvard University in Cambridge. And, there you will find the original John Harvard's Brew House, named for the clergyman behind this Ivy League University. I have already discussed taking the red line out from downtown Boston to Somerville for southern cooking and beers at RedBones. Now I will tell you about another beer destination along the red line, this one off the Harvard Square stop. Once off the train, you will only need to walk a couple of blocks over to John Harvard's on Dunster Street. Now I know what you might be thinking (and trust me, it went through my head too)...oh great, another John Harvard's. But, just like the John Harvard's in Wayne, PA, it takes a standout like this one to remind you that there is still some creativity coming out of this chain of brewpubs. You may remember the awakening that Adam and I had to this idea approximately one month ago when we were treated to some decent brews, and especially the Bourbon Sue, at John Rehm's location in Wayne. Well, I am happy to report that this original location of John Harvard's is serving up a respectable tally of beers, some standard fare, and conducive atmosphere for hanging out with good friends and beer. I think that the one thing John Harvard's here at the University has going for it is the fact that it's adjacent to the University and draws a student, post graduate, and alumni crowd. We were there on graduation weekend, so there were many out-of-state families gathering here too in a celebratory mood. Also, the bar is situated below street level. Not many bars pull this off well, but I really believe the subterranean bars hold a lot of appeal. Primarily because you can tend to get lost in the "otherworld" environment that a bar with no windows to the outside provides. Here you can let time drift by with your beer and friends without a care or distraction from the outside world. Service from Fran the bartender was just right. He was polite to strike up a bit of conversation, even in the midst of a crowded bar. He was interested where we were from and for more details about the Wayne, PA location that we are familiar with. He even knew that the Wayne area is part of what is known as the Main Line to the west of Philadelphia, even though he has never been to Philadelphia. Fran was happy to pour samples and contributed to our good experience on this particular Friday night. The beer itself practically measured up to the selection that we had at our prior trip to the Wayne location. On this night, we were able to sample the altbier and the porter. Both were nice representations of their respective styles, while though not overwhelming us. Growlers were already prepackaged available to go, though not entirely appropriate for us on this trip. From the handful of John Harvard's that I have been to, this one at Harvard in Cambridge, MA and the one in Wayne, PA set themselves far apart from the others with their mostly higher than average beer and their good times environment.