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The Shepherd & The Knucklehead Pub

Not Rated.
The Shepherd & The Knucklehead PubThe Shepherd & The Knucklehead Pub
BA SCORE
98
world-class

52 Ratings
Ratings: 52
Reviews: 43
rAvg: 4.52
pDev: 9.51%
Taps: 90
Bottles: 0
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

529 Belmont Ave
Haledon, New Jersey, 07508-1627
United States
phone: (973) 942-8666

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @theshep_

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: slander)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 52 | Reviews: 43 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by slander:
Photo of slander
4.2/5  rDev -7.1%

This was a "stumbled across" bar. Jed read about it somewhere, knew about it somehow, heard about it from a guy who knows a guy; don't know really. We lunched locally on Columbus Day and just showed up as they opened at 4 PM. It was just Jed and I, and the owner Chris, so we got to chew the fat a bit about the bar, the beers, the whole deal. Thought, "This could be my secret bar", but then (Evil) Davo found out about it and, well, he ruined it like he does things...

Um... interesting little joint out there in Passaic County. Small and tight; real tight. Long "L" bar seating a dozen with a cut through for them to, you know, cut through (They've got to get back there somehow, you know). A single tap on the bar pouring Lindemans (usually the Framboise), and 20 Taps on a long tower on the bar back, with the plumbing extending down through the ceiling in a not-so-pretty fashion, with its hoses labeled for the arteries which bring blood to the heart. Yeah, that's different.

First time up, we caught about 1/3 of the taps occupied by Rogue, and some good micros otherwise, regional (DogFishHead, Victory, Weyerbacher, Magic Hat) and not (Sierra Nevada, Anchor) and your standard German & UK imports. The bar being in such close proximity to William Patterson U. just up the hill, the kids will need a "cheap draft" on which to spend their laundry money. As such, Chris "prostitutes himself" with Dundee's Honey Brown, the lowest he'll go on the beer food chain. Also, a glass front cooler full of bottles to the rear, some kind finds there.

Booze shelved behind the bar amidst a total chaos of bric-a-brac, pictures, bottles, toys, decorations, license plates, madness, everything. The walls are plastered with Jack Keroauc posters and pics, he's got a heavy beatnik thing going on here. Books on the shelves and board games for play. Killer jukebox; live Floyd, Dead, good 60's stuff, lots on mixed discs and that great Dylan '63 show. 3 booths on the wall adjacent to the bar and past there, darts in the tight corner where they can only serve to injure someone at sooner or later. Apparently they do poetry readings & live music, but I haven't seen it so I can't speak to it. Likewise, I think they do very light toaster ovenny foodings but I ain't 'et 'em. Good quality bathroom graffiti, most notably the "women = evil" equation on the inside door. Finally, the owner Chris has indicated that he is looking to build a brand new bar a stone's throw away within a year's time. The new bar would be a combo steakhouse/brewhouse/beerbar with more than enough room to accommodate live entertainment. Can't wait to see it done up.

...And that was 6 years ago. We've been back through over the years, most notably the night before Jed's wedding ("there's still time to escape"). That steakhouse dream never happened but the place has been massively renovated. The door and front windows are the same but just about everything else has been done up; it's about damn time. New wide wood "L" bar with a big lip & copper foot rail. Brick barback wall you can now see with shelved booze & beatnik books over the taps; now 24 of them in a row, and glassware shelved below. Plus 2 more taps on the bar and a handpump there, as well (1st beer on cask was the River Horse Burnt Sugar Amber).

Drop red lamps over the bar and drop bell lighting over the taps. Pressed tin ceiling and spinning fans, that's new. Brick walls, the far one painted olive with white molding and lightly decorated with some residual Keroauc & vintage concert poster pieces but otherwise, it's cleaned up nicely. Even the aorta lines are now encased in some sort of black ductwork. A single flatscreen sits in the corner above a board of the dry erase listing tap selections. The juke is still as kickin' as ever, and the dart zone has thankfully been relocated to the rear.

And the beer's good. 2/3 of the taps were made up of craft beer; 6 from River Horse on the heels of a recent promo, plus regionals (Troegs, Weyerbacher, DogFishHead, Erie, Smuttynose, Allagash) and not (Founders, Lagunitas, Stone); the other 1/3 your standard imports Belgian, German & UK, nothing crazy but no Stella/Hoe, you know? I started with Founders Red Rye, and then moved to the DogFishHead Chicory & Smutty IPA. Beers were clean and fresh.

It's still our hang when out that way, the crowd a decent mix of college kids and grown ups, some solid taps & excellent tunes. It's about all I need, 'cept that steakhouse would've been nice.

slander, Feb 09, 2003
More User Reviews:
Photo of 27Tripping
5/5  rDev +10.6%

If you're anywhere near Haledon NJ I cannot recommend this fine pub enough!
Selection: Overwhelming! Whatta tap list! Mamma Mia!
Food: Veggie Spring Rolls, Mac & Cheese was last night's choice. Outstanding.
Great vibe, great people, extremely good 1st impression.

27Tripping, Oct 01, 2014
Photo of VicBorghiani
5/5  rDev +10.6%

VicBorghiani, Sep 07, 2014
Photo of muskiesman
4/5  rDev -11.5%

muskiesman, Aug 18, 2014
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -11.5%

djrn2, Aug 17, 2014
Photo of TimmyFTD
5/5  rDev +10.6%

TimmyFTD, Jul 31, 2014
Photo of markgugs
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%

markgugs, Jul 07, 2014
Photo of mk_ultra
4.75/5  rDev +5.1%

mk_ultra, Jun 20, 2014
Photo of DrRambis
3.93/5  rDev -13.1%

Visited for the first time after hearing many good things so expectations were high. Place is definitely inconspicuous and mostly just street parking. By just looking you would never think they have about 90 beers on tap. Upon entering you would also say the same thing until you actually look at the bar taps. Hard to believe they can squeeze so much into a tiny space. There are two bars there...a small bar with a pool table and a little more space and then the bigger bar with much less room and a couple small cafe style tables and two booth style tables. Place is dark and blasts pretty terrible music (imo) so the ambiance is reminiscent of a collage town dive bar. When I went (around 8 thirty) it was busy but not at all packed, basically a butt in very seat. Didn't appear there was anyone to greet you or take you to a table, you just fend for yourself. Had to flag someone down several times just to put in an order, so essentially we didn't have a waiter, which would be fine if it was just a bar but it seems they are trying to cross the line into a gastropub. That being said everyone there was very helpful...The service issues seem to be born more out of form than function. The food came out quickly and mine was delicious (pork pouttine) although my friends chicken fajita wrap was a greasy mess.

OK the beer, duh that's what yall care about and same goes for me. Absolutely no complaints...There were a ton of great beers to be had, they all tasted fresh. Nothing crazy limited but the variery alone was fantastic and i know they do tap rarer kegs w some regularity. But there are no craft imatators or macro crap taking up any tap space so thats a huge plus. Very much liked the number of carton and kane beer on tap...represent NJ! Would certainly come back again...maybe when its not so busy so i can actually get a seat at the bar and not have to deal with the awkward waiter setup. All in all it was a pleasant experience.

DrRambis, Jun 19, 2014
Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.58/5  rDev +1.3%

Great spot with an incredible selection. And the food is top-notch. The only negative thing I can say about this bar is that I've ordered several beers that kicked in the middle of my pour. On the bright side, I got those half-full beers for free.

Beware of hipsters...

MakeMineADoubleJack, Apr 17, 2014
Photo of motothrillz
4.75/5  rDev +5.1%

motothrillz, Feb 02, 2014
Photo of Cfeezy
4.04/5  rDev -10.6%

Great place in the burbs right on Belmont ave, where one may not be expecting to come across such a quality establishment to get a quality beer. Love the selection on tap and the shep has everything else you could need without any additional frills. The food is spot on for bar food. Recommended for sure.

Cfeezy, Jan 22, 2014
Photo of NYR2
4.61/5  rDev +2%

This place can certainly be considered Mecca, Eden, Utopia, Narnia, etc., for this area. They have 70 plus craft beers on tap and a menu to accompany the selection. I had been wanting to visit for some time and finally got there last weekend. I will be going back very soon. The selection is ridiculous, the service was on point, and although I only got a simple snack of chicken fingers, it was tasty and from what I could tell the other people in my party enjoyed their food.

As the night went on the crowd changed a bit from a "family like" atmosphere to hipsters, but with William Paterson University up the road I guess that's to be expected. Either way, it didn't take away from the selection of beer. Also, they are constantly changing their taps so I will be back soon to see what is new.

Highly recommended!

NYR2, Jan 19, 2014
Photo of PeterLPeter086
5/5  rDev +10.6%

Awesome experience the other night. This is a great place to have a steak and sip on some great craft beers. I saw a decent mix of individuals there that night. Mostly couples and families eating dinner, but as the night grew later the crowd got significantly younger (reminded me of myself in the good old days). I will definitely be back and have already recommended it to several of my co-workers and their wives. Pool table is a plus! If I had to list a negative it would have to be the parking but the good thing is there is plenty of room on the streets parallel to the bar.

PeterLPeter086, Dec 05, 2013
Photo of JHS123
4.85/5  rDev +7.3%

Amazing place and great bartenders. Sasha and Joe. Ironically Joe's dad Chris the owner of this amazing bar created the Create your own 6 Pack which makes him a Nobel Laureate plus if you Google him he's got a book the Shepherd and the Knucklehead... Bar was a pre-event stop for a couple of brews and this place does not disappoint. Its 100% Craft Beers of Substance not one of the taps held any poisons like Bud, Coors, etc. Choices included diverse mix of Southern Tier including the Warlock, the last keg of Victory Hop Wallop and their beer of the day was the Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin.

Were I not headed to an event I would have stayed and enjoyed what appeared to be exceptional craft foods in a Gastro pub setting without the pretense.

This is the type of place I might actually make a trip around. They could use a hotel in Haledon within walking distance to make this one of the great craft bars and pubs in the East. I wish them the best as its top tier.

Good luck from a Knucklehead...

JHS123, Oct 24, 2013
Photo of Varkias41
4/5  rDev -11.5%

Varkias41, Oct 16, 2013
Photo of Paul68
3.75/5  rDev -17%

Paul68, Oct 12, 2013
Photo of Skibum211
4.21/5  rDev -6.9%

This used to be a hole in the wall, but they have expanded. The beer selection has always been fantastic! I used to meet a lot of friends from town here when I lived back in NJ. This place opened up my world to beer! They are always having beer events with breweries! They support local breweries, and have the best selection of craft beer in the area!

Skibum211, Sep 28, 2013
Photo of Brewlvr27
4.95/5  rDev +9.5%

This is hands-down my favorite craft bar in North Jersey. I've been here several times and always had great experiences. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and down to earth. This isn't a bar for pretentious posturing, but rather a place for the dedicated beer fan to sample many great beers. I mean, c'mon, 90 taps with nary a macro in sight? Perfect. I've spoken with both the owner and the owner's son, not because I had a complaint, but because they take care of their customers and actually listen to feedback to continue improving their offerings.

Beers are constantly changing so there's always something new to discover here. If you're in need of a growler fill, they got you covered. Sampler flights are also available, which is good for me, since I often want to try 4-8 brews when I visit. The food menu could stand to be a bit bigger, but what they do offer they make well, and certainly helps soak up some of the booze from all the beers you'll want to try there.

The atmosphere is low-key and focused on the beers and the company you're with (if you're not solo). Overall, this is a fantastic establishment.

Brewlvr27, Aug 14, 2013
Photo of abcdefghijkyle
4.8/5  rDev +6.2%

This is easily the best craft brew place I've been to. It was also the place that gave me my introduction to good beers. Some of the usual suspects they have there are Bluepoint, Founder's, Carton, Kane, Allagash, Bear Republic, Rogue, Terrapin, etc.

They recently underwent renovations to make it bigger and they turned the place next door into the kitchen. It's definitely changed the atmosphere to being a bit more impersonal but on nights that you would've been packed like a sardine in the old the Shep, you're thankful that there's a ton more space... not to mention 50-60 beers to choose from.

abcdefghijkyle, Oct 26, 2012
Photo of PTSacco
5/5  rDev +10.6%

Chris, the owner, has recently improved The Shepherd and the Knucklehead by adding a steak house directly adjacent to what already has a near legendary status in the beer pouring world.

Now you can enjoy great food including fare not often found anywhere but among the most high-end eateries alongside their as many as 50 craft brews - many nearly impossible to find.

The impeccably knowledgeable staff has spent the time to learn my tastes to make recommendations on selections that I might enjoy.

S&K is not just an experience not to be missed. Hopefully you are lucky enough like me to experience it over and over again.

PTSacco, Jul 11, 2012
Photo of NickSpringDale
5/5  rDev +10.6%

This has been my favorite bar for about a decade. Top notch beer and food selection. My buddy and I have been coming for the beer for years and now we can bring our wives for the dinner. This place has something for everyone on tap and the menu was unbelievably eclectic and outstanding. If you go in make sure you say hi to the owner, Chris... although he'll probably find you first because he's always talking to all of his patrons...very well spoken guy. Had the Delirium Tremens, Spaten Optimator, Tommyknocker Saison and the Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar. Beer was fresh and bartenders were great. Always a great time

NickSpringDale, Jul 09, 2012
Photo of rkcrozier
5/5  rDev +10.6%

What a great place! Went there with the wife and some friends this past weekend and experienced the newly opened restaurant - great menu and reasonably priced. This was my third time at The Shep, once before the renovation, once during and this last time and the difference is really amazing. The staff is so friendly and got to meet Chris the owner and his son Joe who tends bar; both were very nice and was great to be able to tell them about our awesome experience that night. They have 60 beers on tap and I am happy so say that NJ was well represented with taps of Carton, Kane, Cricket Hill (oddly no Flying Fish or Ramstein). I can't wait to go back as this is my favorite bar in the area.

rkcrozier, Jun 25, 2012
Photo of ms3945
4.95/5  rDev +9.5%

Read about this place in the Ale Street News and I must say this place is awesome...60 taps loaded with breweries scattered about the United States and around the world. They really have a beer for everyone, even my girlfriend who is not a beer drinker at all. She loved the Founders Cerise and the Bluepoint Blueberry. The Shep is nice inside, its walls are all brick with cool framed newspapers dating back all the way to the 60s. They also have a sick Great Divide Yeti wooden poster with actual fur coming out. The restaurant next door is beautiful and the bathrooms are a HUGE step above the ones in the bar. As far as the taps go... they're breath taking, I took several pictures with my phone. I wouldn't call myself a craft beer nerd but I was really impressed with the layout and the selection on tap. No bottles though... but I guess you don't need any when you have so much good beer on draft. Def one of the best bars in NJ

ms3945, Jun 20, 2012
Photo of PJackson559
5/5  rDev +10.6%

I don't know how I haven't reviewed this place already---right away when I walked in I couldn't believe at how much this place has changed. years ago i would come in to this "whole in the wall" and now it's turned into a beautiful, brick-walled craft beer utopia. At first I was a little sad to see my old hang out had changed, but that feeling went away after sitting down and seeing that this place now has 60 taps. The bartender was very friendly and gave me a tap list menu with all the beer and it also had a food menu. The Shep now has food! (who would've thought?) Let me tell you---I've been to many bars in my day and The Shep has the best selection on tap I think I've ever seen. All sixty of the taps were beers that in my opinion were very solid! Not only was the beer spectacular, but so was the food. The pulled pork poutine and the chorizo street tacos hit the spot to go along with my Rogue Shakespeare Stout (on nitro!) and North Coast Old Rasputin on nitro. Finished my night off with a Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti and left knowing that my old place is gonna be just fine! If you're a craft beer nut, YOU MUST GO TO THIS PLACE!!! best selection in the state, may even go toe to toe with the NYC bars, it's that great

PJackson559, Jun 19, 2012
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The Shepherd & The Knucklehead Pub in Haledon, NJ
98 out of 100 based on 52 ratings.