The Shepherd & The Knucklehead Pub
Taps: 90 / Bottles:
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 47 | Reviews: 42 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by slander:
4.2/5 rDev -6.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
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.
02-09-2003 19:22:22 | More by slander
More User Reviews:
3.93/5 rDev -12.9%
vibe: 2 | quality: 5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
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.
06-19-2014 02:08:06 | More by DrRambis
4.58/5 rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75 | $$
Great spot with an incredible selection. And the food is top-notch. The only negative thing I can say about this bar is that I've ordered several beers that kicked in the middle of my pour. On the bright side, I got those half-full beers for free.
Beware of hipsters...
04-17-2014 13:58:20 | More by MakeMineADoubleJack
4.04/5 rDev -10.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75 | $$
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.
01-22-2014 06:48:54 | More by Cfeezy
4.61/5 rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
This place can certainly be considered Mecca, Eden, Utopia, Narnia, etc., for this area. They have 70 plus craft beers on tap and a menu to accompany the selection. I had been wanting to visit for some time and finally got there last weekend. I will be going back very soon. The selection is ridiculous, the service was on point, and although I only got a simple snack of chicken fingers, it was tasty and from what I could tell the other people in my party enjoyed their food.
As the night went on the crowd changed a bit from a "family like" atmosphere to hipsters, but with William Paterson University up the road I guess that's to be expected. Either way, it didn't take away from the selection of beer. Also, they are constantly changing their taps so I will be back soon to see what is new.
01-19-2014 03:11:04 | More by NYR2
5/5 rDev +10.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
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.
12-05-2013 18:53:08 | More by PeterLPeter086
4.85/5 rDev +7.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75 | $$
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...
10-24-2013 02:13:33 | More by JHS123
The Shepherd & The Knucklehead Pub in Haledon, NJ
98 out of 100 based on 47 ratings.