New drafts are flowing at every Yard House as the restaurant introduces The Official Yard House 2014 Draft. Nationally, more than 1,000 new tap handles have been introduced based on beer trends such as the popularity of India Pale Ales (IPAs), expansion of the wheat and fruit beer categories, and consumer demand for gluten-sensitive beers. As a result, each of the 51 Yard House locations has debuted a custom beer menu with 20 or more new drafts reflecting local selections and flavor preferences.
Selecting new beers for each Yard House location is a rigorous process. The Yard House beverage team began by meeting with distributors and breweries to identify the newest available beers. Next, the team compiled input from regarding guest feedback, sales, and trends. Finally, the team tasted and rated over 2,800 beers. The result is a customized beer list for each Yard House restaurant, reflecting the best local, national, and craft offerings, as well as up-and-coming breweries.
"The beverage team spends months tasting and rating beers, as well as identifying new, popular, or up-and-coming beers from all over the world," says Kip Snider, beverage director for Yard House. "The result is a hand-crafted draft list for each restaurant that features the very best beers for our guests whether they are sharing a Happy Hour drink and appetizers with friends or looking for the perfect beer to enjoy with their meal."
IPAs continue to be one of the fastest growing categories in beer. At Yard House, the number of IPAs on the menu has increased more than 10-fold over the last decade. The selection has grown to include variations such as black, white, and imperial, as well as sessionable IPAs, which have lower alcohol content. Additions to Yard House draft lists include Founders All Day IPA, Clown Shoes Hoppy Feat, Deschutes Fresh Squeezed, and Green Flash Le Freak. Yard House offers an IPA six-pack sampler to allow guests to explore the traditional styles alongside more adventurous IPAs.
Yard House has seen the fruit beer and cider category expand rapidly, with a variety of flavors ranging from melon to berry to tropical fruits, as well as sour ales. Brewers have infused fruit in beer for centuries, but the process has changed over time. Historically, brewers used fruit to generate a second fermentation in the cask. Today, the category is experiencing a surge in popularity thanks to new flavors and techniques. New fruit beers and ciders debuting at many Yard House locations this year include Ace Pineapple Cider and Lost Coast Watermelon Wheat.
Nationally, wheat beers are one of the most popular categories. Also known as white, wit, or weissbier, these brews are crafted with a large proportion of wheat to barley. Often flavored with spices, herbs, and fruits, the hallmark of these beers is a crisp finish and lively carbonation. New offerings in the wheat/wit/weiss category on Yard House menus include St. Feuillien La Blanche, New Belgium Snapshot, Konig Ludwig Weissbier Dunkel, and Ayinger Brau-Weisse.
The surge in popularity of gluten-free foods has not gone unnoticed by brewers. In addition to its gluten-sensitive food items, Yard House has added gluten-sensitive beers, such as a pale lager, pale ale, and IPA from Omission, as well as Brunehaut Bio Blonde.
This year, Yard House partnered with Uinta Brewing Company to introduce three house beers. Located in Salt Lake City, Uinta began brewing in 1993 and has received awards and medals from regional, national, and international competitions, including the North American Beer Awards, World Beer Cup, and Great American Beer Festival. Yard House is now pouring a House Honey Blonde, an IPA and a White Ale from Uinta.
All of Yard House's new beer offerings are available in traditional pints and goblets, but guests can also try a 9.3-ounce shorty or Yard House's signature 32-ounce half-yard.