Six weeks. That’s how long until we get to sip beers beneath the giant fermenters at the new Yards Brewing tasting room at Fifth and Spring Garden.
Ok, that’s if things continue to go relatively according to schedule, of which there’s no guarantee. But Tom Kehoe, Yards president and founder, is willing to peg “mid-November” as the likely time frame for when the consumer-facing part of the new facility might open to the public. The $19 million-plus project was originally slated for an October launch, so it’s not far off. Workers and contractors are even telling Kehoe it could be done by later this month.
If you visit the new brewery right now, you might not believe that’s possible. The 70,000-square-foot space appears mostly empty.
Behind the fermentation tanks, where a roll-up garage window will one day separate a beer garden from the tasting room, the open air can still come through. To the left, at the future main entrance, glass panels have yet to be installed. Blue construction fences guard the perimeter, covered with “Hard Hat Area” signs. Yet everything is much closer to being finished than it looks.
“When things get done and closed up,” said Kehoe, “it’ll happen quick.”
The brewhouse is one part that’s already installed, and it’s impressive, with lots of bells and whistles the system on Delaware Avenue doesn’t have.
Some of those components, like a new vessel for dry-hopping, will allow brewers to create more interesting beers. Some make the system more energy efficient, like instant steam heaters (instead of having to keep a full tank of boiling water at the ready, steam can be produced on demand). And some will make it easier for Yards to continue its current custom of sending spent grain and protein sloughed off during fermentation to local farms for use as animal feed.
But the public tasting room will probably open before all that goes operational — while the finishing touches on the canning, bottling and kegging lines are still being made.
“Instead of watching them make beer, you’re going to be watching them do a little bit of welding for the first week or two,” Kehoe said. “I think people would love that.”
The bar area will be fronted by a small retail shop, and to the side is a separate lounge area, which can remain open or be closed off for private events via a set of rollup garage doors.
“That lounge area is just about exactly the size of the entire original Yards Brewery,” Kehoe said.
This will be the fifth home for the brewery, which was founded in 1995 in a row home garage on Krams Avenue in Manayunk. It will likely be the last, per its president, who made this definitive statement last week: “I’m never moving again.”
For a brief time, people might get to choose from two Yards locations, since the Delaware Avenue spot — which is slated to become Craft House, a multi-concept food and drink destination from FCM Hospitality’s Avram Hornik — will continue operation for at least a couple weeks after the new one is complete.