We recently visited the original John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House in Harvard Square to check out renovations made this past September. Not only has the chain of brewpubs drastically changed in the 20 years since its flagship's opening (thanks to new ownership and staff, rebranding, and the aforementioned makeover), but so has the beer market and its consumers.
"Ten years ago, if you wanted to try two or three craft beers in one sitting, you went to a brewpub or were lucky enough to have a beer bar in your city," explains head brewer Walker Modic. "Now you can go to just about any restaurant or bar and find three to four craft beers. Moreover, today almost everyone lives reasonably near a beer bar where there are five lines dedicated to IPAs alone. The spatial constraints of our brewery make it a challenge just to keep five to seven beers on tap at once."
So how does a brewpub compete in a market spoiled with options? Modic's answer is to create a niche that's unique to brewpubs: "craft food and beer that doesn't cost an arm and a leg." John Harvard's doesn't have to deal with packaging, distribution, and other associated costs, so it can share the savings from brewing beer for onsite consumption with patrons.
That's where their new Brewer's Prix Fixe menu comes into play. Created by chef Aldrin Asencio, it's available every Wednesday from 5 to 10 pm and changes monthly. "Turnout for the prix fixe has increased each week," says Modic. And get this: it's only $22.99 for four courses or $29.99 if you want beers paired by the brewer; we're guessing you will.
John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House :: 33 Dunster St, Cambridge :: 617.868.3585 or johnharvards.com
THE JANUARY LINEUP
Omega Hop IPA paired with tower of lobster and avocado with cilantro and roasted jalapeños, dressed with a lacto-saison vinaigrette and served over crispy lemon cracker
Tripel Bottom Line paired with New England lobster risotto, slow-cooked with Plate Factory Pilsner, green peas, and mascarpone cheese and served in a red-onion bowl
Oatmeal Stout paired with surf and turf: grilled Wagyu strip steak and butter-poached lobster over Midwinter's Russian Imperial Stout–braised Belgian endive and roasted ﬁngerling potatoes
Mordre Bleu (sour-mashed saison aged on whole Maine blueberries) paired with mixed berries marinated in balsamic vinegar and row sugar and served with vanilla-bean ice cream
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