38 Amazing Tap Rooms You Need to Check Out

Thirsty? We've re-vamped our 2013 list of tap rooms and added 17 hopping new spots for you to wet your whistle.

River of Beer

133 Main Street, Bloomingdale

River of Beer derives its name from the nearby Pequannock River and, of course, its featured beverage. Fred Soules, wife Nancy and son Dave offer a rotating selection of craft beer, including several from area breweries High Point and Magnify. The kitchen was not yet open when we visited in January, but a simple-yet-satisfying menu is planned. Antique chandeliers from Savannah, Georgia, and a 100-year-old front door from a pub in Atlantic City help create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Locals are hopeful RoB will spark a revival in the town’s commercial district.—BP

The Shepherd & the Knucklehead
529 Belmont Avenue, Haledon

When Christopher Schiavo opened the Shepherd & the Knucklehead 15 years ago, he named it for his first novel—a meditation on the duality of man. You want duality? At this brick-walled pub, Jack Kerouac is commemorated as the patron saint but craft beer is clearly king. There are an incredible 90 taps, with special attention to local brewers like Cricket Hill (from nearby Fairfield), Kane and Carton. “We do not carry the big guys,” manager Adam Bird proudly declares. How does such sudsy sophistication play in blue-collar Haledon? “We’re a destination place,” says Schiavo—and a favorite of faculty from neighboring William Paterson University. The dinner menu is limited but well-executed.—KS

Surf Taco
21 Hope Chapel Road, Jackson

The only branch of the Surf Taco empire with a liquor license, the brightly colored Jackson outpost is an oasis for craft beer lovers. Surf Taco has 10 taps; eight rotate often to stave off aficionado apathy. The roughly 100 members of Surf Taco’s Growler Club receive discounts and VIP treatment at events like the monthly cask tappings when brewery reps pump away and are pumped with questions.—MN

Taphouse 15
75 Route 15 South, Jefferson

Sandwiched between Route 15 and Berkshire Valley Road, in what co-owner Tom Apostolopoulos calls a “phenomenal restaurant location,” Taphouse 15 has quickly become a popular spot; at times there’s a line to get in. The contemporary, 210-seat gastropub serves what the owners call “modern American cuisine with a global flair.” The 24 craft beers on tap rotate frequently. “We always feature four to six from New Jersey brewers,” says Apostolopoulos. On our visit, the Jersey brewers represented included newcomer Angry Erik, located up the road in Lafayette.— BP

Taphouse Grille
344 French Hill Road, Wayne

On a recent visit, this modern, busy neighborhood tavern had 24 craft beers on tap, including notable Jersey brews such as Kane Rye Head High, a fruity IPA brewed with rye, and Carton Epitome, a muscular dark ale with 10.3 percent ABV. A flight of four 5-ounce pours is $10. Each beer is succinctly described on a one-page sheet, but you can do just as well quizzing the knowledgeable servers. The food is top-notch.—KS

The Tap Room
200 Liberty Corner Road, Warren Township

Off the lobby of the Somerset Hills Hotel, a cherry-mahogany bar and lush brown carpeting beckons you to the beer room rated number 1 in New Jersey by beernexus.com. Beverage manager Kevin Torpey stocks his 11 rotating taps with lesser-known gems like Hibernation Ale from Denver’s Great Divide Brewing Company. Be sure to ask about Kevin’s secret bottle stash, a trove of some 20 to 25 rarities. The pub food is rewarding, bands play on weekends, and in good weather you can roll a game of bocci on the patio.—MN

Twisted Elm
435 River Drive, Elmwood Park

Opting for freshness and quality over sheer numbers, Twisted Elm’s eight taps frequently rotate craft brews, often featuring New Jersey breweries like Carton, Kane and Brix City. Additional selections are available in cans and bottles. Owner Jim Rogers describes his bustling, food-forward establishment as a true gastropub. The connection between the bar and the kitchen is undeniable, with chef Al Scazafave using craft beer in many of his creative and highly satisfying dishes. Beer pairing dinners are offered on a regular basis. Scazafave’s lobster grilled cheese sandwich is especially good when paired with a hoppy IPA. Select drafts are $5 during weekday happy hour, from 3 to 6 pm.—BP

The Verona Inn
624 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona
The V.I. has come a long way from its origins in a basement in 1947. The current location, which opened in 2012, has a sleek look without sacrificing the tavern’s warm and friendly appeal. Beer lovers choose among 36 mostly craft selections on tap and another eight in bottles. The dining menu ranges from an assortment of terrific burgers to modern favorites like fish tacos and teriyaki grilled chicken. Fries (or tater tots) are served 12 ways. Select craft beers are half price off after 7 pm on Wednesdays, which is also $5 burger night.—KS

World of Beer
335 George Street, New Brunswick

How to choose among the 50 drafts and 600 bottles here? Use the app on the available iPads to sort by country, style, color and alcohol level. Or just chat up the knowledgeable bartenders. World of Beer, a chain, has 90 locations and is expanding to 200. New Brunswick’s WOB, which opened in late 2013 in the former SoHo on George space, is owned by Mitesh Patel, whose fifth franchise is scheduled to debut in Hoboken in late March. Some of those 50 taps, which change regularly, are dedicated to local brews. During a January visit, Linden’s Two Ton Brewing, which launched in November, was already represented. Highlighting the tavern menu are Guinness-infused bratwurst sliders, a Chimay burger and WOB’s signature giant Bavarian-style pretzel.—PT

Yankee Doodle Tap Room
Nassau Inn
10 Palmer Square East, Princeton

From the huge “Yankee Doodle Dandy” mural behind the bar—a gift from its creator, Norman Rockwell—to the photos of famous Princeton grads like Jimmy Stewart and Michelle Obama, the Tap Room exudes Tiger lore. Nurse your pint at one of the old oak tables where Princetonians have carved their names, a guy named Albert Einstein among them. Choose from 16 taps. Meet the Brewers events take place in spring and summer when the patio is hopping. In winter, pull up a chair before a roaring fire, admire the patina of the old oak ceiling beams and feel transported to a time before anyone knew that E=MC².—MN

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  1. Con Rad

    What does the Stirling Hotel have to do to get some love. They have 3 bars, two outside, 24 taps and have been rated the best bar in NJ by NJ.com and the Star Ledger.

  2. Johnny

    i agree, The Stirling Hotel has the best selection and best beer events in the state. by far the greatest bar NJ has to offer. this selection of “tap rooms” is a sham and is obviously fueled my corruption.