Pub Review - Shepherd and Knucklehead, Haledon, NJ

member_headshots_20081217_1815175631Tucked into a niche on a Y-Street off of Main St., Haledon, NJ you can find a beverage nook respectively reminiscent of a prototypical side street NYC pub. Newly renovated, the brick walls, eclectic but balanced d├ęcor, and laid back, likable staff ensures that the "Shepherd & the Knucklehead" is sure to please. Sporting a 10 stool bar and a few tables ready a few steps, cozy is a proper definition, but it adds to the ambiance of patrons rubbing up against one another in the effort to grab just one more beer under the reddish orange bar lights.

With promo nights galore, I find myself here on a night of Victory beers. Lon Lautario, the founder of Ruffian Brew pub and current craft beer account manager for Nash Distributing, was on hand to speak about the night's offerings, Braumeister Pils, Donnybrook Stout, Wild Devil, Abbey 6, Golden Monkey, Whirlwind Wit, Prima Pils, Storm King, Uncle Teddy's Bitter (Cask), Unfortunately there was a issue with the hop devil, it seems the keg clearly stated HopDevil but poured Whirlwind Wit, strange. The night started off slow, but soon gained much more momentum as the twenty-something crowd of musicians and college students poured in.

This place is like a backwards McSorely's without the sawdust on the floor and the dust cakes on the ceiling. Abe Lincoln never took a leak in the bathroom here, so be it, I'm here for the beer. There's no sitting area in the back, as no food is served by the S&K. It seems they have an arrangement with the little food shop next door who make a cheese steak that could clog a valve in your heart in one sitting, and they'll bring your food right over to you. The beer gods were with me that night, as I was lucky enough to have a young woman named Christina next to me who insisted I eat half of that behemoth of a sandwich with the works, and there was much reciprocation and rejoicing.

The two men tending bar, Darius and Greg, held down the shop like seasoned veterans. On an interesting spoilage note, Darius had said that through the first six months of the year he had only gotten 2 off kegs, but recently over the last two weeks has gotten eight, what's up with that? Anyway, Pete Danford, a sales rep from Victory was there to slang his swag, glasses and shirts, and talk up the beers. I gave him a brief summary of the WHALES and what we do, which then led to talk about their next promo on July 1 at the Blind Tiger Alehouse. Apparently every line available will be flowing with Victory offerings.

My favorite offering of the night had to be the Braumeister Pils, which is the same recipe as their Prima Pils, only it is single hopped with tettnanger and unfiltered unlike the Prima, delicious. Then the blending began. I ended up talking about blending beers with Pete, and by the way, these guys behind the taps are down with blending. I went 50/50 Donneybrook/Storm King, 50/50 Aprihop/Cider (although I think 75/25 is the proper mix), and Allagash White with a healthy splash of sweet peach lambic, all winners. A good time was had by all, and I'll be sure to get back for the next promo night, I think it's Dogfish Head!

Their current tap list consists of Allagash White, Lancaster Rare Rooster Rye, Troeganator, Spaten, Original Sin Cider, Franziskaner, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Weyerbacher Blache, Flying Fish Farmhouse, Wolaver's Oatmeal Stout, Guiness, ApriHop, Troeg's HopBack Amber.

Quote of the night- "Drinking Pilsner is like ordering pasta at a restaurant, basic, but it takes care of your needs without complications" Anonymous

Thanks again to Darius and Greg for their immense hospitality, I had a blast.

-Nate Monk