The Shepherd & The Knucklehead Pub

The Shepherd & The Knucklehead PubThe Shepherd & The Knucklehead Pub
Liked This Place
4.56 w/ 66 ratings
The Shepherd & The Knucklehead PubThe Shepherd & The Knucklehead Pub

Type: Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

529 Belmont Ave
Haledon, New Jersey, 07508-1627
United States

(973) 942-8666 | map

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Added by slander

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Ratings: 66 |  Reviews: 47
Reviews by slander:
Photo of slander
4.2/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

 4,501 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of SebastianMandeville
4.6/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Photo of CaskDevotee
4.73/5  rDev +3.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of Jsalz21
4.63/5  rDev +1.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

As far as nearby places in Bergen County go, the Shep is the best in my humble opinion. It's selection is pretty expansive and definitely provides enough options for what you might be looking for on any given day, but my only gripe with it is that most of their taps are pretty easy to find on the shelves of liquor stores in the area. Thankfully, they have enough that is outside the usual area availability that every other time you're there there is something new worth trying, or a solid go-to otherwise. People working there usually know their stuff and service, unless they don't, in which case you might end up waiting for a bad pour to settle. The food is also great, but personally, I think their produce is usually the best thing about whatever I eat there, so do with that what you will.
Overall I love the place, and I've spent a myriad of nights and days at the Shep and will probably be spending a lot more in the future.

 935 characters

Photo of Kopp
4.83/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Photo of plutoniumpete
4.13/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Great selection, friendly staff, growlers to go. Since I've been here they have had a KBS night, GI takeover, and a FW takeover. Parking can be a bit tricky if you get there when everyone else does. Tons of local taps on which is great and prices are reasonable. One or two of the staff could take a lesson on how to fill a growler properly, but other than that I will keep coming back here for more.

 404 characters

Photo of kkmiller76
4.8/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of catwoman
4.78/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Great neighborhood place in a nice little Business district area of Haledon. Sat at the bar by myself, quiet night. Bartenders were friendly and helpful, let me sample some of NJs finest before deciding. Good draft selection, mainly American craft beers, only one sour. Numerous beers from NJ which is what I wanted to try, as I live out of state. I was impressed by many of the NJ craft beers. I ordered the dinner special. Which was salmon with kale and as I recall (it's been a month) lemon and capers. It was absolutely delicious! They told me the chef had previously worked somewhere fancy. It was just a scrumptious dish, tons of flavor. Some people near me ordered a soft pretzel and it was as big as a dinner plate and looked yummy. This is an excellent place, casual, friendly, excellent beer and service. As a woman traveling alone they made me feel at home and very happy I made the effort to seek this place out.

 924 characters

Photo of thestoutmaster
4.73/5  rDev +3.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of njcraftguy
4.81/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Stopped in this weekend after hearing good things and I was not disappointed at all. Everything I heard was spot on. Amazing selection of craft beers with no crap taking up valuable taps. Extremly friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff. Owner came out and we chatted beer for awhile. Good guy. Food was excellent as well. I went on a sat afternoon and it was pretty slow but I'm sure most nights or for a rare tapping it gets crowded. Fairly small so that could be interesting how they handle that. Overall a great experience and I will def be back. Cheers

 566 characters

Photo of jkane101
4.78/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of Will_Rivera
4.98/5  rDev +9.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

One of the best beer spots around period

40 characters

Photo of ArkyVaughan
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Grizzynicky
4.04/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of Vivs85
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of 27Tripping
5/5  rDev +9.6%

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.

 263 characters

Photo of VicBorghiani
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of muskiesman
4/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of TimmyFTD
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of markgugs
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of mk_ultra
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of DrRambis
3.93/5  rDev -13.8%
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.

 1,948 characters

Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.58/5  rDev +0.4%
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...

 271 characters

Photo of motothrillz
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

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The Shepherd & The Knucklehead Pub in Haledon, NJ
Place rating: 97% out of 100 with 66 ratings
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