John Harvard’s Cambridge Officially Ceases Brewing Operations

The original location of the brewpub chain hasn't been making beer in house since the fall.

John Harvard's

John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House is ceasing beer making on-site. / Photo courtesy of Armando Uribe

A longstanding brewpub in Cambridge is taking the “brew” out of its daily operations. John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House in Harvard Square hasn’t been brewing on site in a few months, and it’s closed this week as crews remove the serving tanks from the premises.

John Harvard’s opened in Harvard Square in 1992. Since then, the brand has expanded to locations in Framingham, Providence, Rhode Island (Union Station Brewery); Lake Grove, New York; and ski mountains Holiday Valley in New York and Jiminy Peak in western Massachusetts. In 2010, hospitality services company Centerplate took over corporate operations of John Harvard’s.

The Cambridge brewery was producing less than 1,000 barrels annually. General manager Ashley Tart said the decision to cease production stems from various maintenance expenses, including a request from the property manager to reroute the ventilation system through three levels of the Garage mall above. It was venting directly out of the basement brewhouse, onto Mount Auburn Street.

When John Harvard’s reopens, five, six-barrel grundy tanks will be gone from behind the bar, replaced by a cooling system and kegs from other breweries. The conditioning tanks and other brewery equipment are staying in place, but will no longer be used, Tart said.

“It’s definitely closing a chapter,” she said.

The eight draft lines will still continue to pour some John Harvard’s beers, including the Dunster Pale Ale, Brattle Blonde, and Spyhammer IPA, developed by the Framingham brewery. The restaurant will contract brew its recipes locally, Tart said. She anticipates offering four John Harvard’s brews and four, rotating guest taps. John Harvard’s assistant brewer Riley Markey left Cambridge for Wormtown this fall; the Worcester brewery’s flagship Be Hoppy “is going to be pretty consistent, as we want to stay true to our people,” Tart said.

John Harvard’s Cambridge is no longer offering flights of its draft beers, and it has also stopped growler sales.

The restaurant is closed through January 6, she said. Keep an eye on Facebook for updates.

John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House, 33 Dunster St., Harvard Square, Cambridge; 617-868-3585 or

Editor’s note: The author of this post is a former John Harvard’s Cambridge employee.