Irvine, Calif. (April 24, 2013) — After putting together a panel of beer experts, Kip Snider, beverage director for Yard House Restaurants which helped to spawn the craft beer revolution when it opened its flagship restaurant in Long Beach, California, in 1996 with 250 tap handles, has completed the company’s annual Beer Review resulting in the addition of new brands, emerging styles and individual menus for each of the company’s 44 locations.
“People think I have the best job in the world, and I do,” says Kip Snider, who, for the past 14 years, has been instrumental in the creation and development of the Yard House beverage program. “But conducting our annual beer review is a major process. I compare it to being a CPA at tax time — it’s intense and all consuming.”
Snider assembles a team of Yard House beer experts to both taste and rate the current beer offerings, as well as potential new labels and styles to possibly add to the menu. The group gathers for a few hours daily over a four week period to partake in blind beer tastings and individually rating each beer on a 1 to 5 scale — anything that scores a 3 or below does not move forward in the process. Next the ratings are entered into a spread sheet, which then returns an individual score for each beer. A low score doesn’t necessarily result in a beer’s removal, while a high score doesn’t necessarily guarantee a tap at the Yard House’s signature oval bar.
“If it was purely about taste, the process would be much simpler,” added Snider. “But we need to look at how well a beer is performing along with what are guests are telling us. If we have a barrel of a particular beer just sitting in our Keg Room and it’s consistently not moving–for whatever reason guests just aren’t gravitating to that brand or style–then we need to consider removing it from our list. We’re all about offering a fresh product, from our food to our beer, and those that just don’t perform well, no matter how good they taste, are likely to be removed.”
After the most recent review, which took place at the company’s Home Office in Orange County, California, Yard House now offers more than 950 domestic, craft and imported beer brands company-wide with 6,300 tap handles shared by its 44 locations. While each restaurant has its own individual beer list and between 100 and 250 taps, depending on the location, they all share a core list of about 25 of the most popular brands.
Snider added that Yard House used to create regional beer lists, but he discovered that beers that perform well in Boston might not be as well received in nearby Dedham — a suburb of Boston. While each location shares a core list, the more well-known brands and styles with nationwide distribution, that’s where the similarities end. After that, each restaurant’s beer list is purely its own.
“You might have two Yard House restaurants that are geographically close,” added Snider. “And you would think that they would share the same beer list because the demographics are likely similar, too. However, what sells well at Fashion Island in Newport Beach doesn’t necessarily resonate with guests who frequent The Triangle in nearby Costa Mesa. Both restaurants are located in Orange County, California, and located less than five miles apart. Still, they each have their own individual beer lists and offerings.”
Yard House, which offers six-pack samplers featuring six different styles that rotate every Tuesday, allows beer enthusiasts to try different brands and flavors. The beer menu also includes a six-pack of Belgian-style samplers as well as a new IPA six-pack sampler.
“IPAs have been trending for quite a while,” stated Snider. “They are by far the most popular style at the moment. Our guests have been asking us, both in-person and through social media, to add a six-pack sampler of IPAs, so we did and they’re selling extremely well.”
Guests can also create their own flights with the popular Yard House Shorty, a glass containing just 9-ounces of beer instead of 16 ounces found in a traditional pint. In addition to IPAs, Snider said that session beer, full flavor beer with an alcohol content of 5% or less, are also becoming extremely popular. Yard House also recently introduced its Chalkboard Beer Series, which features a selection of small, limited releases from mostly craft brewers that rotate frequently keeping the selection both innovative and fresh. These featured beers are listed on a digital chalkboard prominently displayed above the island bar. Guests can check what is available in real time by visiting the Yard House website (www.yardhouse.com) and selecting the location of their choice.
Beer enthusiasts can also join myyardhouse.com, which serves as a virtual “file cabinet” that only the user can access. Within this site guests can keep track and rate the various beers they’ve tried at Yard House, leave tasting notes and even see what music is currently playing in real time at the Yard House of their choice.
Yard House team members, from the bar manager and bartenders to the servers, recently participated in beer education courses to better assist guests with selections and recommendations. The new individual beer menus are now available at each of the 44 Yard House locations, from Southern California to southern Florida.
As for the best strategy for making a beer selection, Snider says everyone approaches it differently.
“There are no hard and fast rules for selecting a beer, lager or ale,” he said. “I’ve seen guests study the beer list intensely for several minutes before making their selection. I’ve met guests who have been loyal to a brand and style for decades and they’re going to stick with what works for them. And I’ve seen people walk around the entire bar and make their selection based on the design of the tap handle — the brewers can get rather creative to make their brand standout. It’s all good. My advice: Do what works best for you, and enjoy!”
For hours, directions and information on the Yard House nearest you, call 800.336.5336 or visit online at www.yardhouse.com.
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