BrewReview: Yards Brewing Company
Updated: May 29, 2020
By: Brandon Lawrence
Yards Brewing Company - Philadelphia, PA.
BeerSeeker on the Job: Brandon (AKA Bird)
If you’ve been around the Mid-Atlantic at all over the past few years, or have visited Pennsylvania during that time, then chances are you’ve had the option to try one of Yards Brewing’s signature beers. Living in Philadelphia for the past 5 or so years, I can’t recall a time that I’ve been out to dinner or a bar and haven’t heard someone order a PPA (Philly Pale Ale). Yards is a staple here, and its recent explosion makes it one of the larger brewers in Southeast Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia is a city rooted in history, and Yards plays off that. And I hearken back to a little of my own personal history with this brewery that keeps me coming back.
The first time the other three members of the BeerSighted squad came to visit me in Philadelphia after my move (plus another friend of ours who has since moved to Texas), I brought them to Yards at its old location on Columbus Boulevard. It was our first beer excursion in a new city. We took the tour, tried a bunch of samples (probably too many), and enjoyed some time in the smallest tasting room you’ve possibly ever seen. I’ve been back to Yards several times since, mostly at its new location, and it’s always a pleasure going back. So let’s dive into the brewery:
I mentioned during my live visit that Yards semi-recently moved locations (at the end of 2017) to a much larger facility on the 500 block of Spring Garden Street, which, if you visited their old digs on Columbus, was necessary. Yards now operates out of a big converted factory that essentially takes up an entire city block.
The taproom can hold a much larger crowd now, which is huge considering the lunch and dinner (and beer) menus are robust. There’s a nice all-the-way-around rectangular bar when you first walk in, with massive garage-style doors that open up to a gravel patio on the right and the dining room on the left. The dining room has a very ski-lodge feel to it with long wooden tables and benches, although overhead you get the industrialized pipes and metal of a factory. The patio sits underneath (and when I say underneath, I mean UNDERNEATH) four massive brewing tanks on Spring Garden, which likely help shield some of that sun during the warm months.
Don’t feel like sitting and chatting? That’s fine! Head to their game room and play some shuffleboard or shoot pool while enjoying a brew. Or feel free to take a tour of their brewery, which makes that taproom out front look like you’ve just come from the smallest room in existence. Seriously, it’s gigantic.
Listen, Yards' beer is good. It’s very good. Obviously it is, or it wouldn’t be found just about anywhere beer is sold in Pennsylvania. However, their strategy seems to be of the enticing nature, because in my opinion, their best beers are only found at the brewery.
Yards offers 20 beers on tap, with three different flight options. I tried two of those three upon my visit, because the third option was beer that is readily available and I have tried numerous times. And one super cool thing I learned during this recent visit: Three of their “Ales of the Revolution” brews are derived from recipes George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin ACTUALLY BREWED THEMSELVES. That’s right – our Founding Fathers were also BADASS BREWERS. What a way to spend President’s Day! I feel like I did it right.
Jefferson’s Golden Ale (Golden Ale) 8% ABV
Brewed with flaked oats and maize
Rye and wheat
I’m not usually a golden ale kind of guy. I’ll drink it if it’s front of me, but I won’t go out of my way to order a golden. I typically want something with more pop, more flavor and a higher ABV. That being said, I was wowed by this beer.
First of all, I think the color of this brew had more of an amber hue than being straight golden. Second of all, 8%? For a golden?? That’s not something you see every day. But I certainly did not taste the power of a high-percentage beer in this one.
The wheat smoothness was right up front where it should be, but the sweetness of the honey was what threw me off the most. When you think of a golden ale, sweet and strong don’t really come to mind. But I loved the flavor of the honey on the back end of every sip, which helped downplay the fact that a couple of these beers would knock you right on your ass. Because of this beer, I will now have to give more credence to goldens when I see them on menus during future BrewVentures.
MTWB IPA (Hazy IPA) 7% ABV
Us guys here at BeerSighted have one other major passion that unites us: sports. We’re all massive sports fans, and at least a couple of us tried to go into some realm of sports profession post-college. This MTWB IPA blends two of our biggest passions together.
For several years now, Yards has partnered with Connor Barwin’s Make the World Better Foundation to create this unique brew. Barwin is a former linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, and through this partnership, a portion of all MTWB IPA sales benefit the foundation and its playground revitalization projects in Philadelphia neighborhoods. Who doesn’t love that?
On top of that, the beer is damn good. I love hazy IPAs, and this one combines the characteristic citrus splash with a bit of a piney, hoppy flavor from the spruce tips to send your taste buds on a ride. At 7% ABV, you’re in that range of a strong but doable IPA where you won’t feel hesitant to go and get another.
Visiting Yards Brewing Company is one of those things that, if you’re a beer lover, you have to do while you’re in Philly. The tours they give are phenomenal, the taproom and dining menu are excellent and it’s the perfect place to go and grab some brews with a group of friends to relax. On weekends or as soon as the workday is over, you can count on this place filling up quickly too. Yards is and has been the model for consistency in brewing in this tri-state area, and for very good reason. Feel free to visit them online or check them out on social media @yardsbrew and show them some Philly-style love!