Great Beer Bars in Belgium, New Jersey, and Connecticut

Here are the three beer bars that we explored in the “Love Handles” department in Issue 24 of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®.

John Holl , Cat Wolinski , Tyler Plourd Apr 25, 2018 - 4 min read

Great Beer Bars in Belgium, New Jersey, and Connecticut  Primary Image

Photo by John Holl


Namur, Belgium
A new beer-centric café that celebrates not only traditional Belgian beer styles and breweries, but regularly showcases the offerings of newer breweries.

What it is: From the outside, there’s no mistaking what’s on offer inside Barnabeer. Large windows facing the sidewalk are stacked with beer bottles of various sizes and styles. Inside is a sprawling bar that leads to a large courtyard. Comfortable chairs and solid tables invite long drinking sessions with friends. Edison bulbs and wood give a classic-yet-modern feel to the bar that is helped along by great service.

Why it’s great: Visitors to Belgium can be overwhelmed by beer choice and experience FoMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to trying as much as possible. Pours of various sizes from a diverse lineup of the country’s brewers make sure you can try a little bit of everything from a lot of places. With Barnabeer’s rotating list, it’s hard to stop in for just one. —John Holl

The Shepherd & the Knucklehead

Haledon and Hoboken, New Jersey
What it is: With two locations about twenty miles apart in northeastern New Jersey, The Shepherd & the Knucklehead is the place to go for beer. The original location in Haledon, now approaching its twentieth anniversary, offers a homey, cozy vibe, while the Hoboken location, opened in 2016, brings a trendier sports-bar vibe. Both locations dazzle with ninety taps in Haledon and sixty in Hoboken featuring a rotating mix of local, regional, and international brews.

Why it’s great: This father-son business is a people-pleaser that leaves pretension behind. The Haledon location attracts a melting pot of bar goers—professors and researchers from nearby William Paterson University, youths bellying up to the bar to see their favorite bartenders, and elders looking to try their next NJ pint (at least twenty of the taps pour something local). The Hoboken location caters more to the “going out” scene, while both locations offer plenty of local brews (Brick City, Carton, Kane). Then, there’s the food—you won’t go hungry here, as the Shep also slings one of the most robust menus for a metropolitan beer bar, with standouts including steaks butchered on site, Asian-style wings, and a mean poutine. —Cat Wolinski

The Half Door

Hartford, Connecticut
Rustic Irish pub–inspired craft-beer bar that’s an absolute standout in Hartford’s up-and-coming West-End neighborhood
What it is: The Half Door delivers an authentic pub-like atmosphere coupled with a neighborhood vibe that the Hartford area has enjoyed for more than seventeen years. With more than eighty beers from Europe alone and a location that instills a neighborhood vibe, The Half Door is a gem hidden in plain sight just minutes from downtown Hartford.

Why it’s great: Locals flock for the happy hour every day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. featuring a weekly $4 Mystery IPA can special, while others ponder over an unrivaled selection of European offerings from Rodenbach to Pilsner Urquell to almost the entire Samuel Smith portfolio. In-state beer from Two Roads (Stamford), New England (Woodbridge), and Kent Falls (Kent) complement standard pub fare done right. Weekend brunch dishes range from pulled-pork hash to the fan favorite, Cobblestones—mini steak-and-cheese rolls topped with American cheese, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and mayo. —Tyler Plourd

John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.