(Philadelphia, PA) – On January 28th, BeerPulse’s Chris Ferullo sat down with Yards Brewing Owner, Tom Kehoe, and then-Operations Manager, Steve Mashington, (reportedly no longer with the brewery) to discuss the industry as a whole, Yards’ 2012 outlook, and more.
Yards produced nearly 50% more beer in 2011 than it did in 2010, passing the 20,000 barrel mark. The brewery added capacity at the end of the year.
Part One is a mish-mash of questions focusing on Yards.
BN: You are expanding to Central Pennsylvania this year. Are any agreements signed yet?
SM: We don’t have agreements signed yet. There are a couple territories where we are waiting for agreements to be finalized before we start shipping beer there. There is another territory where we are still figuring out who we are going to go with. We hope to have everything settled by the beginning of summer.
BN: Are there any supply challenges that might affect prices in 2012?
TK: Barley prices have gone up across the board. We’ll be spending $120,000 more just on barley than we did last year. There’s a shortage in Amarillo hops, which is a signature hop in one of our beers, and it’s going to cause us to supplement some of the hops in that beer to make it taste the way we want it to…we’re not going to have enough. It kind of makes us think more to the future. Is a signature hop in a beer the way we want to do our beers? We might want to have a couple of different hops that make up our profile.
SM: I think it’s getting harder and harder for more beers in general to ride that one signature hop in a particular beer, because hops change.
TK: The Simcoe of today is not as green or as fresh today as it was in the first years of planting.
SM: Citra today might not be the same as fifteen years from now.
BN: Are there any plans for canning your beer?
TK: We feel it’s another package that we could use. We would love to do that in the future, and are weighing the expense of doing that. In the words of the President, we have ‘formed an exploratory committee’ to see if it’s a good idea or not. We’re expanding the brewery, and are taking that into consideration to see if we can do it.
SM: From a company standpoint, we want cans for our own personal use. We want ‘em for the concerts, and the football games…
TK: …and we also want them for the low impact to the environment, that’s a big part of our philosophy here. The other thing is getting over that “bottle versus can” mentality. There are advantages to both, and I think it’s marketing each the proper way.
BN: What is Yards’ top selling beer? Is it a moving target due to seasonals?
TK: It’s Philadelphia Pale Ale, and I don’t see that changing. The only thing that comes close is Brawler, because they’re both sessionable beers. Brawler has a marketable name that will translate into new markets and sell very well there before something called Philly Pale Ale.
SM: They’re going to be our top two beers for a while.
TK: Most breweries only have one sessionable beer; we have two that are complete opposites. It’s like a one-two punch. There’s no reason why you can’t have them next to each at a bar; they’ll both sell.
SM: As long as people continue to drink with their eyes, it’ll always be Philly Pale Ale. It’s light in color. It’s not much darker than a Miller Lite. What’s really picking up steam is the Thomas Jefferson (Tavern Ale), which has pushed up to become our #4 selling beer. It has got that allure for those who like big strong beers but it is also a drinkable beer for those who don’t.