Yard House's Staggering Beer Overhaul Belongs to the People
One of the ideas of having a triple-digit tap list is to provide a beer for everyone. But what if everyone had their own beer? That was the thinking behind Yard House’s latest edition of its annual beer review.
Each year, the 20-year-old chain, which has 65 units, asks its beverage team and beer experts to take the pulse of its massive beer list. Given that each location averages around 130 taps, it’s no surprise the process typically takes upward of four months.
The brand wanted this year’s review to take an intimate step forward. Yard House asked guests to participate in an online survey featuring just two questions: Pick up to three locations you frequent, and choose the beers you’d like to see on tap.
This was coupled with Yard House’s eClub and social media channels. The response was far from meager. “We’ve always sought the opinions of our guests informally,” says Gregory Howard, director of Beverage Strategy for Yard House, in a statement. “This year we wanted to make them part of the process, so we invited beer novices and enthusiasts to take a simple, two-question survey that required them to select up to three Yard House locations that they frequent, and to name the beers they’d like to see on tap. We received thousands of responses, which really helped to shape and define the new menu.”
Yard House also tapped the knowledge of its local distributors, bringing a frontline perspective to the conversation. This included servers, bartenders, and brewers—anybody who has their finger on the pulse of craft beer fever.
The chain did more than listen as well. They swapped out a total of 1,800 taps of draft beer to satisfy the requests. Around 40 percent of the beers will be offered at Yard House for the first time, showing that the brand isn’t afraid to redraw its core formula.
The guest feedback was critical in producing regional beer lists that fit each location.
“We really try to showcase the local and regional brewers,” Howard says in a statement. “Even if you have a Yard House in the same county, their beer menus will be slightly different. We try to source the best local, regional, and imported brands available so that the menu is varied and has wide appeal.”
Yard House adds that while adding 25 to 30 beers at each location doesn’t seem like a lot, it also removes just as many. The review looks to identify the slow sellers as much as it targets the top performers. IPAs, Yard House notes, remain steadfast. Sours are on the rise.
It also leaned on the review to continue curating the “Chalkboard Series,” which spotlights seasonal and small-batch offerings. These frequently rotating brews are displayed on a digital chalkboard above the island bar.
Monday was the first day the beers were tapped. Now, the company says, the “intense training” with staff will begin.