Huge News in the U.S. Beer World

If you live in the United States and drink craft beer, chances are you’ve come across, or at least heard of, one of the 39 outlets of the Yard House, a chain of beer bars each of which typically boasts one hundred or more taps. Based in Irvine, California, the company has been experiencing huge growth of late, opening new restaurants and breaking into new territories at a torrid pace.

And now they’re been sold. For $585 million. To Darden Restaurants, operators of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains.

Nation’s Restaurant News has all the details here, but the pressing issue for me is what Darden will do with the Yard House concept and how it will proceed with regard to its beer selection. I’ve known Yard House’s existing head beer guy, Kip Snider, for many a year, and whatever else might be said about the man, he has always placed quality beer and staff knowledge high on the agenda at the company, no matter how fast they opened new outlets.

Will Darden maintain the same focus on the “craft” part of craft beer? Time, I suppose, will tell, but in my opinion they’d be foolish to pursue any other course.

11 Replies to “Huge News in the U.S. Beer World”

  1. Never been to a Yard House. But whatever happens, I like the idea that folks who busted their butts to keep beer diversity and quality a high priority will now be taking money showers.

  2. From their beer menu: Amstel Light, Bud Light, Budweiser, Carlsberg,
    Coors Light, Dos Equis Lager, Foster’s, Kronenbourg 1664, Michelob Ultra, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite, etc.

    This is evidence of “beer quality”? It looks to me more like some opportunists hoping for a profit.

    1. Along with Deschutes Mirror Pond, Firestone Walker Reserve, Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout and many, many, many others, Mike, yes, it does. What you’re highlighting is breadth. You know, a lot of people like those beers and 100 plus taps allows for a lot of diversity.

      1. If I go to a pub which claims to specialise in quality, I don’t expect to find crap beers. Certainly not in that number. They are casting their net wide, hoping, as I wrote, to make money, not to celebrate and promote good beer.

  3. I’ve been to a Yard House, and have (of course) been to restaurants operated by Darden. I am extremely worried about this. However, I remember people freaked with Miller Coors bought a take in Terrapin. The results of that remain to be seen I think, but I’m hoping Darden leaves the beer selection to the pros and doesn’t try to infuse macro crap into the selections.

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