Bar Great Harry, a snug den of craft beer, opened with little fanfare in August of 2007, in the former home of creepy and decrepit Bar Bar. As Mike Wiley (who co-owns the place with his brother Ben) wrote on the bar’s blog (more on that in a bit), “The real problem was that it had never been cleaned. I don’t mean that it was cleaned infrequently. I really believe that it had never been cleaned.” But the Wileys cleaned and they polished, and they rewired and they sweated, and lo, a new bar emerged, a clean one, with pleasing features and plentiful beer.
It’s particularly good for happy-hour specials, which change daily but stay in the 2-beers-for-$5 or a-beer-and-a-shot range. The inside of the bar feels like a clubby hobbit den, hale and hearty, nestled into the side of a hill. True to a rustic fairytale, Bar Great Harry welcomes animal friends and will serve you plump meat pies, toasty ones from Red Hook’s DUB Pies ($6 each), that they keep hot in a special pie oven until they’re all eaten, which usually happens before 8pm. The beer, however, never runs out. They have more than 70 bottled brews, several of which they offer in flights of three (for instance, a Canadian Flight, for $18, of three 12-ounce bottles: La Fin Du Monde, 9% ABV; Maudite, 8% ABV; and Trois Pistoles, 9% ABV). Then they have 12 beers on tap, and if you’re curious what’s there on any given day, check that blog I mentioned (bargreatharry.com/blog), which features frequent posts on beer flavors, special events, customers who ordered Franziskaners and then decided against drinking it out of the special glass ha ha they’re nuts! and, if you go far enough back in their blog archive (which is simultaneously boring, addicting and endearing), how many layers of polyurethane the tabletops have — seven! — and how many special chairs they own — 28!
The low ceilings, stacked board games and exposed brick add to the cozy, wee-person hideaway feel, and warm winter specials like mulled wine emit a spicy perfume. Someone has since asked me, however, “Didn’t it smell like a bathroom?” And no, it didn’t, but maybe it used to? [Former resident] Bar Bar’s drunken baby-talk name didn’t disguise the fact that it was unusually disgusting. But that’s (recent) history, so here’s to the success of a friendly, earnest bar with thoughtful beer and good intentions.