A few weeks ago I was in Philadelphia for a good friend’s bachelor party, and took a tour of Yards Brewery as part of the festivities. I’ve pretty much reviewed all of their beers, and am a huge fan, so I was beyond psyched to check it out.
We entered through their tasting room, which features a massive wall display of all their beer labels, and after a short wait, entered the brewery. A healthy sampling of their Love Stout and India Pale Ale awaited us, and we all enjoyed our tastings. The stout was chocolately and smooth, and the IPA was a balanced mix of sweet malts and mellow hops.
Our tour guide (I didn’t note his name, sorry) was very cool and quite funny, and shared lots of interesting tidbits about the brewery, starting with their name. Yards was a compromise between owners who wanted to name it Scotland Yard (because their beers are English-style) and Camden Yards (after Baltimore).
The brewery still has the first equipment they used to brew beer, now referred to as “Yards 1.” The unit is still used to brew Yards’ test runs of new beers in small batches, but isn’t to be confused with their massive array of 100-barrel fermenters.
In addition, Yards is sustainably operated, which appeals to my greenie side. Yards is Pennsylvania’s first wind-powered brewery, and they donate their used grains to both a local bakery and a bison farm. The bakery makes bread with the grain, the farm feeds their bison with the grain, and both donate their products back to Yards, who serves the bread and meat in their tasting room.
After touring the brew room, we got to check out their adjoining bottling and keg filling facility, which was once an indoor skateboard park. There’s a wall of graffiti and seats in the rafters left over from the room’s past life, and the massive pile of bottles and kegs waiting to be filled attest to Yards’ growing success.
We got to enjoy a second round of samples, this time Yards’ ESB and Brawler Ale, and were free to check out the bottling line in greater detail. After that, our tour was done, and we returned to the tasting room for some more beers and a little food. I enjoyed a flight of Yards Ales of the Revolution and some of the sustainably grown bison chili.
Overall, I’m even more of a fan after touring the brewery. Great beers, cool staff, and an awesome atmosphere. If you’re in the Philly area, or even just in town, I definitely recommend checking it out!