HobokenLife™

Where to Drink Right Now: The Shepherd & The Knucklehead

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Beer is sure having a Moment, isn’t it? Not that beer ever went anywhere, but for a long time you could safely predict what would be on tap at just about any bar you went to in Hoboken, with perhaps the exception of old, much-missed Helmers. That’s all changed, now, and you’re going to be dealing with a lot of Choice Paralysis when it comes to picking a draft beer to enjoy when out and about in the Mile Square. One of the key pieces of evidence for The Beer Moment we’re enjoying is The Shepherd and the Knucklehead, the dubiously-named spot on Willow and 14th, next to the Sunoco Station.

Back in The Day

If you’ve lived here long enough you might remember this location at 1313 Willow as the old pool hall, where a lack of ambiance and charm was made up for by the ability to pretend you were an old-school pool hustler. Then it was the unfortunately-themed Smokin’ Barrel, which lasted just about two years before realizing no one wanted to sit in an ersatz horse saddle to eat BBQ.

The Shepherd & The Knucklehead moved in a year ago, opening their second location (the first being in Haledon, NJ). The unusual name comes from a novel co-owner Chris Schiavo published in 2006 (https://www.amazon.com/Shepherd-Knucklehead-Christopher-M-Schiavo/dp/0738859850/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488300665&sr=8-1&keywords=shepherd+and+the+knucklehead), and represents the duality of man, something they also explore by donating part of their profits from the bars to the poor and for cancer research.

On Tap

For our purposes here today, though, we’re less concerned with the odd name or the good deeds, and more concerned with the beer. And my goodness there is a lot of it—more than sixty beers on tap in the Hoboken location alone.

SIXTY. BEERS. ON. TAP.
SIXTY. BEERS. ON. TAP.

First of all, the space is great—it’s large, roomy, and the decor is what I like to call “unfussy.” There’s no overwhelming and slightly silly theme, it’s just a classic pub feel. Lots of tables, a big glorious bar, and a small stage area make this a place you’ll almost certainly be comfortable in no matter how crowded it gets. There’s parking in the garage across 14th street, too, so if you’re coming from out of town it’s a great place to start your Hoboken adventure, too.

That's a glorious bar.
That’s a glorious bar.

I once again dragged my suffering brother along, and together we once again tried six beers on offer: Mine were the Victory Golden Monkey, the Magnify Search Saison, and the Sunday Morning Stout (I resisted the urge to grab a Fat Tire, one of my current favorites, in the interests of journalism). The service was fantastic—we had two bartenders just sort of wandering the bar checking on us, and they knew a lot about the beers they were pulling. Then, they left us alone, which is something I definitely appreciate. The bar is also fully stocked, and they offer up cocktails and wine as well as beer—plus, they’ll fill up a growler with your favorite suds to take home with you!

Yes, that's my brother's hand.
Yes, that’s my brother’s hand.

The Bottom Line

I didn’t get to try out the menu this time, but it certainly looks good, so I will make my way there for dinner soon enough. In the mean time it’s enough to know that this is an awesome spot for beer-lovers and those who love them to have a pint or three.

The stage area.
The stage area.
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Jeffrey Somers

Staff Writer • Jeff Somers (jeffreysomers.com) is the author of 9 novels including We Are Not Good People (wearenotgoodpeople.com) and the publisher of The Inner Swine (innerswine.com). Jeff may be reach at [email protected] . Follow him on Twitter at @jeffreysomers .

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