Bar Sign by elvissa of flickr.com

Bar Sign photo by elvissa of flickr.com

Over the past few years I’ve made it a point to really visit different beer bars in Northern Jersey and branch out beyond my comfort zone of Jersey City, NJ. I’ve done a few write up on bars that I’ve been to and I must say that there are a few stand outs among the crowd. Now I will say the pickens are slim in North Jersey which is odd considering the population density up here but nonetheless I’ve been on a trek to find great bars here that I can frequent and continue to go back to and now share with you.

What do I define as a good beer bar? One word, selection! I could care less what your bar looks like, it could be a hole in the wall with wood paneling up and dirty floors, if you have a good selection you have my vote of confidence. See there are some bars that claim to have a great selection, but when you get there, they are out of everything and nothing boils my kettle more then a bar with a list of beers they don’t have in stock. Other factors I consider but aren’t factors for this list are food and crowd. Sometimes you don’t want to just drink, you need something in the belly to wash down that 18% Mephistopheles on tap and make sure that you can actually walk after leaving.

So here you have it folks my current list of favorite beer bars in Northern Jersey that I recommend:

1. Barcade

Jersey City, NJ

Great selection, awesome ambiance and retro video games that I grew up plying as a kid in the 80’s. They have some killer sandwiches to eat while imbibing  but you really go here for the great selection and great video games. The bartenders situation is hit or miss sometimes is great other times you have to wait so long at the bar (and its not always that crowded) and other times the bartenders can be very hmmm off putting, even so that didn’t stop me from putting this on the top of my list. BTW the Muffaletta sandwich rocks!

2. Copper Mine Pub

North Arlington, NJ

This is one of my favorite spots simply because they have great beer. They always have a great selection combined with their bottle selection makes this place that one spot in Jersey that you are going to love if you are a real beer geek. The place isn’t really anything to write home about and is really pretty meager  they don’t even have food you have to get delivery to the bar but they do provide menus of local delivery places. The meager ambiance and no food allows this place to focus on what they do best, provide high quality craft beer.

3. The Shepherd & the Knucklehead Pub

Haledon, NJ

Where else are you going to find 60 beers on tap in New Jersey? I’ll tell you, NO WHERE well except here. It wasn’t number one on this list for its location, its a little far from everything (about 20 minutes from the NY/NJ border) and the food is just ok. Where’s the burger and $11 for wings, really?

4. Cloverleaf Tavern

Caldwell, NJ

Great restaurant with a huge selection of good food and its The Masters of Beer Appreciation (MBA) program which takes learning about beer to another level. The program gives you incentives to try new beer both monetary and in status which makes the education of it that much more fun. This place gets it right, the family atmosphere with the great selection of beers and the quality food make this a stand out place to go with a group/family, eat good and have great craft beer.

5. Pilsener Haus & Biergarten

Hoboken, NJ

Talk about a great place to have a drink in glass steins with a German selection that’s only rivaled by a few other bars. They have some great food too but the bierhaus ambiance and the great lager selection won me over.If you are looking for a bar with a great selection of lagers, go here. If you are a hop head, you might be a bit disappointed. The times I have been there, there were gents in lederhosen pouncing around playing instruments. Once you get inside of this place you forget where you are. Be careful the glass steins are heavy on their own and don’t go there too late because you’ll be standing in the corner with your stein struggle to hold it because it gets so crowded. At least break out the shake weight before you go.

Honorable Mention

Iron Monkey

Jersey City, NJ

This place has a slew of tap handles (33 during the winter) with a great selection and very good food. With that said, their bottle list is consistently wrong and not updated, their wait staff should be just as knowledgeable about beer as the bartenders and this place can become very noisy and down right  overcrowded on special occasion nights. The food prices are great for the business district its in, but for those that just want to drink and have a reasonable priced meal $14 for mac and cheese or $11 for a burger is way overpriced.