Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Path To Philly Beer Week 2008 - A Profile of Yards Brewing Company

Yards is a Philadelphia story. I'd compare them to Rocky, but I'd probably get lost in the analogy along the way and find myself in a hole from which I could not dig out! But, make no mistake. Yards started as the little guy from the Manayunk and Roxborough neighborhoods and grew into a brewery with beers that are often referred to by outsiders as "the Philadephia beer." Along the way, they took the brewery into Kensington and became even more of a bonified neighborhood brewery by reviving the brewing ghosts of Weisbrod & Hess.

Back in the 90s, I knew the beer (personally, I say) but not so much the people behind Yards. Late in the 90s around the turn of the century, I began to follow the people and places more closely and finally visited the Kensington brewery for the first time just a few years ago. The passion for the beer shown by both the brewers and the consumers was always palpable during visits to the brewery. Rich Wagner's regular presentations about the history of brewing in Philadelphia added yet another element to the allure of Yards Brewing.

For some, after the management split became official in 2007, there were fears of possibly losing a piece of Philadelphia brewing history. Instead, it appears that we will end up gaining instead of losing. I don't doubt that some of this passion will carry over to the new location of Yards on Delaware Avenue. And, during Philly Beer Week, if you don't find yourself drinking a Yards beer at least once, then you must not be drinking beer. Tom and company are making sure that the Yards name will be in front of the beer-loving masses at every turn. Just check out the list of events below.

As you ready yourself for Philly Beer Week 2008, study up on some background notes on Yards Brewing Company and consider yourself lucky to be part of such a vibrant and rich beer region that PBW 2008 will celebrate.

Name: Yards Brewing Company
Location: 901 North Delaware Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19123
Phone: 215-634-2600

Tom Kehoe; Original Founder & Owner, President
Tim Roberts (brewer); Frank Winslow (brewer); Steve Mashington (business manager)
Andrew Horne (cellar); Mitch Albach (cellar); Steve Welsh (shipping/receiving); Andrew Rutherford (safety compliance officer); Rick Anstotz (night watchman)

Major Brands
Brawler; Extra Special Ale; India Pale Ale; Philadelphia Pale Ale; Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale; General Washington Tavern Porter; Poor Richards Tavern Spruce; Old Bart; Trubbel de Yards; Love Stout

Extra Special Ale
Bronze (Real Ale Festival)

Philadelphia Pale Ale
2nd Place (Manayunk Brew Fest Extravaganza) 2007

Trubbel de Yards
Bronze (Real Ale Festival), 2002

Best Local Beer
Philadelphia Magazine; 1998, 2001

Philadelphia and 5 county region. New Jersey. Western PA. Will expand distribution once new facility is complete. Potentially reentering Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Roughly 10,000 bbls/year (new facility capacity is 30,000 bbls)

History & Tidbits
  • Tom Kehoe and Jon Bovit opened the 3.5-bbl garage brewery in cramped quarters of Manayunk in 1994
  • Personal delivery of their kegged beers was a trademark service
  • ESA quickly took off as "Philadelphia's beer"
  • By 1996, increased demand brought about a move into larger space in neighboring Roxborough, where bottling took place for the first time
  • 2001 saw continued increased demand, Bovit leaving, Bill & Nancy Barton joining as investors, and the brewery moving to Kensington location of the former Weisbrod & Hess turn-of-the-century (1900s, that is) brewery
  • 2008 brings a new era with the Bartons leaving to open their new Philadelphia Brewing Company and Tom taking Yards to a new, larger location on Delaware Avenue

  • Major Yearly Events
  • Brewery tours will be regularly held once construction is completed
  • Anniversary Party (date tbd)

  • Where to Find Yards During Philly Beer Week
  • Joe Sixpack's book launch on the 7th will highlight the ESA
  • A firkin of the ESA will be at Good Dog on the 8th
  • Will feature their ESA at The Brewer's Plate food pairing event on Sunday the 9th
  • On the 10th at Allison's in Blue Bell, Yards beer will be included
  • The staff will feature homebrews in the Extreme Homebrewers Challenge on the 10th
  • Meet & Greets with Tom at The Bishop's Collar and Frank and Tim at Caribou Café, both on Tuesday the 11th
  • Tom will be conducting a "Beer Talk" at the City Tavern on the 12th; Beers of the Revolution to be poured
  • All of Yards brands will appear during the Local Brewers Self-Guided Tour on the 12th
  • A pin of the ESA will be at the Aspen for the Fairmount Beer Tour and Tom will judge at the Philly Beer Geek competition, both on the 13th
  • Tom will be participating in the Brewers' Happy Hour on the 14th at Nodding Head and later conduct a Meet & Greet at The Belgian Café
  • A firkin of the ESA will show up at the Ides of March event at Grey Lodge Pub on the 15th
  • Will co-host the real ale festival event at Triumph on the 16th and highlight their ESA

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