Yards Brewing Company

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Yards Brewing Company
Yards front.jpg
Street view of Yards Brewing Company
LocationPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Coordinates39.9624° N, 75.1356° W
Key peopleBill Barton, Nancy Barton, Jon Bovit, and Tom Kehoe
Annual production volume55,000 US beer barrels (65,000 hL) in 2015
Owned byTom Kehoe

Yards Brewing Company is a craft brewery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, specializing in ales, particularly those in the English tradition. In 1994 friends Tom Kehoe and Jon Bovit established Yards after producing their own homebrews since 1988. Within the first few months, "the Yards Guys" were producing one six-keg batch at a time out of their 3.5-barrel brewhouse, and supplying ESA, Entire Porter, and several other cask-conditioned ales to bars. After several partnership changes, Kehoe has continued expanding the Yards brand by moving to larger locations and incrementally increasing the overall output capacity. In 2015, Yards was capable of brewing 55,000 barrels. Yards is currently planning yet another expansion, which would almost effectively double their brewing capability, raising the annual production volume to 200,000 barrels.

The first pour[edit]

Yards ESA was first publicly poured at the Philadelphia Craft Beer Festival on April 29, 1995 in booth 406. Many people refer to this day as "Ground Zero" for today’s Philadelphia beer scene. Dawson Street Pub purchased one of the first ESA kegs from Yards, and offered hand-pumped pours to customers during a happy hour on Friday May 19, 1995. The remaining ESA kegs were self-delivered by Bovit and Kehoe to Khyber Pass, Cavanaugh's 39th Street, and Sugar Mom's. [1][2]

Brewery locations[edit]

The first facility was a garage-sized brewery located at 219 Krams Avenue in Manayunk. By the end of 1996, Yards had grown to a production capability of 795 barrels.[3] In 1997 Yards moved to 5050 Umbria Street in the neighboring section of Roxborough. This larger facility allowed Yards to bottle its beer for the first time, and to contract brew for Manayunk Brewing Company, Dock Street Brewing Company, Barley Creek Brewing Company, and Gravity Brew Co., which has since closed. At the height of this location's production, Yards had brewed 2100 barrels.[4]

Yards Brewing Company moved in 2001 to the old Weisbrod & Hess Brewery in Kensington. Tom Kehoe partnered and signed the lease for this property with Bill and Nancy Barton. At this new location, Yards was capable of brewing 10,000 barrels.[4]

Yards - Northern Liberties Tasting Room

This partnership was short lived, and in 2007 Kehoe and the Barton family split ways. This allowed Kehoe to sign a lease on the current location property located in Northern Liberties. Within the first year at this new location Yards had brewed 6,500 barrels. This location was the first brewery in Pennsylvania to be powered, entirely, by wind.[5] It features a 100-person maximum capacity pub-styled tasting room, featuring a 12-tap system, a century old billiards table, and a shuffleboard. The same year Yards "went 100% green" (2011), they achieved status as a "Regional Craft Brewer" by the Brewer's Association and reintroduced the original 3.5 barrel system, "Yards One."[6] As of 2015, the Northern Liberties location reached a capacity of 55,000 barrels and had successfully brewed 41,500 barrels.[7][6]

Despite the large output capacity, Kehoe desired an even larger facility. In 2016, Kehoe had stated that Yards was looking to move to a location on the 500 block of Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia. Out of the proposed location's 200,000 square feet, Yards' new facility would occupy 80,000 feet. Due to concerns of what would happen should Kehoe and the Yards team decide to move yet again, the zoning committee needed to further deliberate the location approval.[8] As of March 2017, M&T Bank granted Yards Brewing Company an $8.5 million loan to begin constructing their new 70,000 square foot facility located in the now vacant Destination Maternity headquarters. The estimated cost for the completion of the project is $19 million. The remaining financial backing is reported to be coming from local and state financing. Construction is estimated around $6 million, while equipment is estimated to cost $13 million. Tom Kehoe stated that this "labor of love" would bring "new life to this area of Spring Garden" when it opens. The tentative launch date is set sometime between October and December 2017.[8][9][10]

Ales of the Revolution[edit]

Yards Brewing Company takes tremendous pride in associating the city of Philadelphia with the country's founding fathers, not only for history's sake, but also as some were brewers themselves. In 1999, Yards launched a collaborative effort with City Tavern, which specializes in recreating 18th century recipes, to lay the foundation of what would become the Ales of the Revolution series.[4] To create this series of history-inspired beers, Yards drew inspiration from brewing recipes originally belonging to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.[11] By 2004, Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale and General Washington’s Tavern Porter became available year-round. The following year, Yards began developing Poor Richards Tavern Spruce, in an effort to release an Ale of the Revolution for Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday in 2006.[7]


Yards had been a self-distributing brewery, from Kehoe and Bovit's first keg deliveries of ESA to Dawson Street Pub, Khyber Pass, Cavanaugh's 39th St, and Sugar Mom's, until 2008. Yards then partnered with Muller, Inc to begin regional and interstate distribution.[12] Currently, Yards' products are distributed throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with 80% of its nearly 40,000 barrel production being distributed in the Philadelphia tri-state area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware). As of May 2015 Yards is the largest brewery operating in the city of Philadelphia.


Friends Jon Bovit and Tom Kehoe had a long-standing history of brewing beers for their friends while in college. After completing a brewery internship with British Brewing Company in Maryland, the duo partnered and signed a lease for the original Manayunk facility.[2] Despite the long-standing history between the two, and the brand gaining recognition, Bovit resigned from the company in 1999. While no longer a financial partner, Bovit is still reported to collaborate on certain brews with Kehoe.[4]

In 2001, Kehoe found new financial and business partners, Nancy and Bill Barton.[4] The trio moved on to open the Kensington location, in the restored Weisbrod and Hess brewery, which allowed Yards to construct a bottling line, and open a tasting room for the general public.[7] Although this partnership only lasted until 2007, the company had gained financial stability, increased brand recognition, and quadrupled the brewery's output capacity. After their formal resignation in July 2007, the Barton family leased the space to Kehoe until he could find a new location for Yards. They then went on to transform their facility into the headquarters of the Philadelphia Brewing Company.[13]


Beer Name Year Introduced Style ABV IBUs Availability Description
Brawler 1998

Reintroduced 2008

English Mild 4.2% 11 Year-round.

6/12/24 pack

1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Malt-forward, delicately hopped.

Hints of caramel and toast.[14]

Cape of Good Hope 2009 West Coast Style

Double IPA

9.7% 75 Limited Release: August


1/6 keg, 1/2 keg

Yearly changing recipe.

Notes of citrus, melon, and pine

from Ella, Azacca,

Galaxy, Mosaic, Citra, Chinook,

Citra, and whole flower Cascade hops.[15]

Chocolate Love Stout 2013 Chocolate Stout 6.9% 25 Limited release - December


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Brewed with 100% cacao Belgian dark chocolate.

Rich chocolate, dark roasted malts, hints

of vanilla and caramel.[16]

Extra Special Ale (ESA) 1995 English Ale 6.0% 47 Year-round.


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Hoff-Stevens cask

British-inspired ale.

Subtle spiciness, floral, earthy, and smooth,

strong malt backbone.

Golden and Styrian hops.[17]

General Washington's Tavern Porter 1999 Porter 7.0% 40 Year-round.

6/12 pack

1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Brewed with molasses.

Dark, smooth, complex.

Hints of dried fruit.[18]

Golden Hop IPA 2016 IPA 6.0% 55 Limited Release: January


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Belgian yeasts, dry hopped Amarillo,

Cascade, and Mosaic.

Melon and citrus taste/aroma.[19]

IBG Grapefruit Pale Ale 2016 Pale Ale 6.1% N/A Exclusive Release

Philadelphia Independence Beer Garden

Golden-colored pale ale.

Grapefruit zest, Azacca, Centennial,

and Cascade hops.[20]

IPA 1998 East Coast Style IPA 7.0% 62 Year-round.


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Hoff-Stevens cask

Traditional-styled malty IPA,

Chinook and Amarillo hops.

Pine and Tangerine aroma.[21]

Love Stout 1997 Stout 5.5% 33 Year-round


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg (Nitro only)

Dark roasted malts, notes of chocolate

and coffee.[22]

Philadelphia Pale Ale 2000 Pale Ale 4.6% 37 Year-round


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Straw-colored pale ale.

Cascade, Centennial, Columbus

and Simcoe hops.

Crisp, hoppy, citrus.[23]

Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce 2005 Spiced Ale 5.0% 22 Year-round


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Influenced by Benjamin Franklin's recipe.

Barley, Molasses, and locally sourced

spruce clippings.[24]

PYNK 2001

Reintroduced 2013

Fruit Beer 5.5% 6 Limited Release: July


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Light body, sweet and tart cherries and raspberries.

Portions of sales go to breast cancer

research and awareness.[25]

Rival IPA 2016 West Coast Style IPA 6.2% 55 Limited Release: October


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Crystal and rye malts

Bravo and nugget bittering hops.

Whole-flowed Chinook hops

Centennial, Citra, Simcoe and Columbus hops.[26]

Saison 1996 Saison 6.5% 30 Limited Release: April


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Summer-wheat ale.

Belgian yeasts and Styrian hops.

Hints of banana, clove, and spice.[27]

Sons of Ben 2014 Belgian Pale Ale 5.0% 37 Limited Release: May


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Pale straw color.

Cascade and Amarillo hops.[28]

Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale 1999 Strong Golden Ale 8.0% 42 Year-round


1/2 keg, 1/6 keg

Based on Thomas Jefferson's recipe.

Brewed with oats, maize,

rye, wheat, and locally sourced honey.[29]

Washington's Reserve

Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter

2014 Barrel Aged

Strong Porter

7.0% 34 Limited Release: By batch General Washington's Tavern Porter,

aged for six months inside of bourbon barrels.

Crystal and chocolate malts, molasses.

Scent of vanilla.[30]


Year Presenter Award Winner
1998 Philadelphia Magazine Best Local Beer Yards
2000 Philadelphia City Paper Best Use Of Oysters Love Stout
2001 Philadelphia City Paper Best Guys In A Tough Town Brewery Staff
2003 Chicago Real Ale Festival Bronze Medal ESA
2004 New York Times Top Five Pale Ales in the Country Philadelphia Pale Ale
2009 Penn Future Green Power Purchaser Small Business Award Yards Brewing Company
2009 Philly Beer Week Best Beer with a Cheesesteak Philadelphia Pale Ale
2010 Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Green Business of the Year Yards Brewing Company
2010 World Beer Cup Bronze Medal in "Extra Special Bitter" ESA
2011 94WIP Beer Brawl Listeners' Choice Philadelphia Pale Ale
2011 610WIP Beer Brawl Best Seasonal Saison
2012 Atlantic City Beer Festival Best Light Beer Philadelphia Pale Ale
2012 Great American Beer Festival ESB Bronze Medal ESA
2012 Philly Beer Scene Best IPA/Pale Ale Philadelphia Pale Ale
2012 Philly Beer Scene Best Session Beer Brawler
2012 Philadelphia Magazine's Best of Philly Best Beer Philadelphia Pale Ale
2013 Great American Beer Festival Bronze Medal in Indigenous Ales Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce
2013 Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal in English Milds Brawler
2013 Philly Beer Scene Best Barrel-Aged Beer Bourbon Love Stout
2014 Philly Beer Scene Dark Beer of the Year Love Stout
2014 Philly Beer Scene Humanitarian of the Year Tom Kehoe
2015 Good Food Awards Beer Extra Special Ale[31]
2015 Philly Beer Scene Best Fruit Beer PYNK
2016 Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal in Irish Dry Stouts Love Stout


  • Smoke ‘Em if Yous Got ‘Em: A smoked beer and barbecue event on the brewery grounds takes place later in the year. The festival highlights smoked or rauch beers and features many other breweries as well as homebrewers.
  • Real Ale: A session focused around cask conditioned beers is offered once a year on site at the brewery. This event features a wide array of firkins of varied ales from a large selection of breweries in addition to the traditional Yards lineup and one-offs. Food and entertainment are offered.


  • Brewer's Desk blog ("No posts.")
  • Bryson, Lew (July 24, 2007). "Yards partners split up". Seen Through a Glass.
  • "Yards Partners Split; Kehoe Keeps Yards Brand & Bartons To Form Philadelphia Brewing Co". The Beeryard. Wayne, PA. July 30, 2007.
  • "Yards Distribution Rights Go To Muller Inc.url=http://www.beeryard.com/news/default.cfm?action=view&id=981". The Beeryard. Wayne, PA. December 6, 2007. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  1. ^ "It's been 20 years since the first Yards pint ever tapped". Billy Penn. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  2. ^ a b "Yards Brewing Co. - Manayunk (1994-1996)". Yards Brewing Co. - Manayunk (1994-1996). Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  3. ^ http://yardsbrewing.com/our-story/manayunk-1994-1996
  4. ^ a b c d e http://yardsbrewing.com/our-story/roxborough-1997-2002
  5. ^ Services, Yards Brewing Company; Washington Gas Energy. "Yards Brewing Co. "Goes Green" by Being the First Brewery in Pennsylvania to Use 100% Wind Power Electricity Supplied by WGES". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  6. ^ a b "Yards Brewing Co. - Northern Liberties (2008-Present)". Yards Brewing Co. - Northern Liberties (2008-Present). Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  7. ^ a b c "Yards Brewing Co. - Kensington (2002-2007)". Yards Brewing Co. - Kensington (2002-2007). Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  8. ^ a b "Yards Brewing Seeks New, Larger Home in Northern Liberties". Philadelphia Magazine. 2016-06-28. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  9. ^ "Yards crosses the Delaware on trek to new brewery site". PhillyVoice. 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  10. ^ "Yards Brewing on track to open new space this year after closing on loan". Philly.com. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  11. ^ Galster, John (June 2009). "Ales of the Revolution". BeerScene.com. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  12. ^ Bryson, Lew (2008-10-29). "Seen Through a Glass: Yards is thinking big". Seen Through a Glass. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  13. ^ Co., Philadelphia Brewing. "New Philadelphia Brewing Company Created With the Split of Yards Brewing Partners". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  14. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Brawler". Yards Brewing Co. - Brawler. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  15. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Cape of Good Hope Double IPA". Yards Brewing Co. - Cape of Good Hope Double IPA. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  16. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Chocolate Love Stout". Yards Brewing Co. - Chocolate Love Stout. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  17. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Extra Special Ale". Yards Brewing Co. - Extra Special Ale. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  18. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - General Washington's Tavern Porter". Yards Brewing Co. - General Washington's Tavern Porter. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  19. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Golden Hop IPA". Yards Brewing Co. - Golden Hop IPA. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  20. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - IBG Grapefruit Pale Ale". Yards Brewing Co. - IBG Grapefruit Pale Ale. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  21. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - IPA". Yards Brewing Co. - IPA. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  22. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Love Stout". Yards Brewing Co. - Love Stout. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  23. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Philadelphia Pale Ale". Yards Brewing Co. - Philadelphia Pale Ale. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  24. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce". Yards Brewing Co. - Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  25. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - PYNK". Yards Brewing Co. - PYNK. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  26. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Rival IPA". Yards Brewing Co. - Rival IPA. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  27. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Saison". Yards Brewing Co. - Saison. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  28. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Sons of Ben". Yards Brewing Co. - Sons of Ben. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  29. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale". Yards Brewing Co. - Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  30. ^ "Yards Brewing Co. - Washington's Reserve". Yards Brewing Co. - Washington's Reserve. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  31. ^ "Award Winners 2015". Good Food Awards. Retrieved 23 June 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°57′46″N 75°08′07″W / 39.9628°N 75.1354°W / 39.9628; -75.1354