Beer Bar Review: Russell House Tavern, Cambridge

It is probably not a coincidence that the rise in popularity of craft beer has coincided with the rise of the gastropub. Bars that serve yummy food and a great selection of drinks in a non-pretentious atmosphere fit right in with the attitude of many craft beer enthusiasts. One of the best gastropubs I’ve found in metro Boston is Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square. Russell House sits in a prime location on JFK Street, just steps from the Harvard Square T stop on the Red Line. The restaurant is divided over two floors, with a smaller bar and dining room upstairs and an expansive room and larger bar downstairs. The food is excellent, from hearty entrees to delicious appetizers. I also highly recommend the pizza, perfectly prepared thin crust pies with a variety of creative toppings. It is no surprise that Russell House Tavern has a full bar, with a wide range of specialty craft cocktails and a range of wines by the glass. The bar is typically busy on weekends and despite the proximity to Harvard the crowd consists of mostly young professionals as opposed to college students.

What sets Russell House Tavern apart is their stellar beer menu, with serious focus on local craft beer. Russell House has rotating taps showcasing many of the heavy hitters in the local beer scene, including Pretty Things, Backlash, and Jack’s Abby. Nearly every beer on draft is from New England. This past weekend featured Pretty Things St. Boltoph’s Town Brown Ale, Backlash Death Imperial Stout, and Jack’s Abby Mass Rising Hoppy Lager, a great variety of styles. There were also selections from Notch, Allagash, Rising Tide, Blatant, High and Mighty,  BBC, Rapscallion and Harpoon. The styles also covered the gamut, from light session pilsners to dark stouts and everything in between. In addition, there is a wide selection of bottles (12 oz and 22 oz) and cans (12 oz and 16 oz) that cover a range of breweries and styles throughout the US. Macro-lagers need not apply – you don’t see anything Bud, Miller or Coors, even in bottle or can. It is clear that the people in charge of the beer program know their stuff and take pride in having an impressive selection of local and national standouts. So the next time you visit Harvard Square I highly recommend stopping into Russell House Tavern for a drink and a bite to eat, it has become one of my local favorites.

For their beer menu see:

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