"Yeh get a lot o' funny folk in the Hog's Head...."
-- Rubeus Hagrid (PS16)
The Hog’s Head Inn is a slightly dodgy pub and tavern, located one or two streets off of the High Street. The pub has been a fixture of Hogsmeade for hundreds of years. A worn-out wooden sign hangs over the door, advertising with a “wild boar’s severed head leaking blood onto the white cloth around it” (OP16). It’s known for its cheapness, at least relative to the Three Broomsticks down the street, and attracts a “shall we say… interesting clientele,” at least according to Albus Dumbledore (OP37). The bartender, for at least twenty years (OP17), has been Albus’s brother, Aberforth Dumbledore (DH28).
Though they are allowed to on Hogsmeade weekends, Hogwarts students rarely visit the Hog’s Head. Even Hermione had to ask to ensure they were allowed, and when she did Professor Flitwick strongly advised they bring their own glasses (OP16).
The pub doesn’t seem to be a particularly popular spot among adults, either; even on a Saturday afternoon when the Three Broomsticks was full, the Hog’s Head was empty enough for Aberforth to be spotted out on the street (HBP12). Then, the night that Harry and Dumbledore walked through Hogsmeade before disapparating to the seaside cave, the Three Broomsticks was described as “raucuous” and the Hog’s Head “completely empty” (HBP26).
Those that do frequent the Hog’s Head seem to be of a particular sort, as described by both Hagrid and Dumbledore above. More specifically, they all tend to keep their heads covered (OP16). This, at least, explains why Hagrid did not realize who he was dealing with when he won a dragon egg from a disguised Qurrell here during Harry’s first year (PS16); it also explained how both Mundungus Fletcher and Willy Widdershins were able to spy on Harry and his classmates when they met here four years later (OP17, OP27).
The bar in the Hog’s Head is small and extraordinarily dirty and strewn with sawdust (DH28), with the windows nearly opaque and the floor all but invisible beneath the dirt. There is an “ancient wooden till” behind the bar that serves as cash register, and the entire room smells strongly of “something that might have been goats.” Even the rags behind the bar seem filthy; at one point, as Aberforth continues to wipe a glass, Harry notes that it seems to be getting dirtier (OP16).
Behind the bar is a “rickety wooden staircase” leading up to a sitting room, most likely an open area between the guest rooms, with a fireplace and a curtained window looking down at the street (DH28). The guest rooms themselves are located above the bar (OP37), and like the bar itself are not noted for being especially clean. Sybill Trelawney, for example, warns Harry against bedbugs (HBP25).
Above the fireplace in the upstairs sitting room is a portrait of Ariana Dumbledore (DH28). Through this portrait is a secret passage, leading into the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts. This passage “opened up” when Neville Longbottom began living in the room in the spring of 1998, though we have no way to know whether the portrait might have led to another part of Hogwarts prior to that time.
The Hog’s Head is an old establishment, with the “filth of centuries” accumulated on the floor of the bar. According to Hermione a goblin rebellion in 1612 was based out of “the inn” in Hogsmeade (PA5), and given that the Hog’s Head is the only self-labeled inn we know of in town, it seems likely that the rebellion centered here. Knowing the large number of goblin wars that have happened since, it seems likely that 1612 wasn’t the last time the inn served in this capacity, either.
The recent wizarding wars against Voldemort have thrust the Hog’s Head back into historical prominence. We know of a number of events that have taken place here:
In the winter of 1979-1980 Sybill Trelawney made a prophecy about the Dark Lord and a child yet to be born. She was partially overheard by then-Death Eater Severus Snape, setting in motion the chain of events that eventually led to the death of Lily and James Potter and the downfall of Voldemort (OP37).
In the spring of 1992 Rubeus Hagrid won a dragon’s egg from a disguised Quirrell in this pub, and let slip a secret he needed to get the Philosopher’s Stone, nearly bringing about Voldemort’s return (PS16).
In the fall of 1995 Harry and Hermione used the Hog’s Head as a meeting place and organized Dumbledore’s Army (OP16).
In May of 1998 Aberforth Dumbledore provided emergency refuge for Harry, Ron, and Hermione after they inadvertently set off the Hogsmeade Caterwauling Charm, drawing attention from Death Eaters. Aberforth convinced them that Harry’s stag Patronus was actually his own goat Patronus. Later that night Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix used the secret passageway in the Hog’s Head as an entrance into Hogwarts, allowing them to participate in the final showdown against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, while the school staff used the same passage to evacuate students in the emergency (DH28, DH30).
Possibly a reference to the Boar's Head Inn from Shakespeare's Henry IV plays. Young Prince Hal hangs out at this tavern with Falstaff and various other disreputable individuals. -BB
A hogshead is also a large container of alcohol (source: Wikipedia). -BB