Subscriber Exclusive

Pick Six with Tom Kehoe of Yards Brewing

For his 6- (ahem 7-) pack, Tom Kehoe of Yards Brewing Company still finds inspiration from the beers that formed his early opinion of craft beer, but he also takes the time to explore new flavors and search for something that could become a new favorite.

John Holl Jun 13, 2018 - 9 min read

Pick Six with Tom Kehoe of Yards Brewing Primary Image

Tom Kehoe knows British beer. As the founder of Yards Brewing Company, which recently moved into its fifth (and largest yet) space in the City of Brotherly Love, he made his name and built the brewery on the backs of styles that had long been popular across the Atlantic and indeed in the early days of this country. A sucker for malt-forward recipes and quite a few that pack a punch either in ABV or flavor, Kehoe still smiles at his earliest memories of beer and even a few that only recently came into his orbit. A student of history with a healthy respect for process, he chose these beers for a variety of reasons, but each has its own story.

Theakston Old Peculier 

(Masham, England)
“Old Peculier is one of the England’s best-known beers but one that doesn’t get a lot of love over here today. It’s an old ale, with a rich caramel color and a beautiful aroma from the Fuggles hops. It has this dark-fruit, cherry—and more—ester, and it’s very much what you think of when it comes to a classic English ale. My wholesaler introduced me to it. I think he was bringing it over in the early nineties. After I had it for the first time, I’d call him and find out where he sent it, and then I’d go there and drink all they had. Sometimes it was on tap, other times in bottles, and I’d just drink whatever the bar had. I’ve had a fondness for English beer for a long time, and this beer just represented all that I thought of when I thought of the country. There’s nothing sexy about old ales (or older English beers in general) right now, but back then it was a revelation. This is a comfort beer. It’s the beer you want when you want to relax. It’s malt-forward, a little sweeter, and not very strong (5.6 percent ABV) so it’s not like some 90 Shilling where it beats you up. It’s easy.”

Young’s Special London Ale

(London, England)
“I’d say that we have a beer that’s a lot like Young’s Special London Ale, but this one is perfect. This is my style, what I like to drink regularly. This ale is more of an aggressive ESB than some others of its time and even for the overall style. I remember back in the late nineties, I was getting this in Fells Point in Baltimore. Back before the brewery was Wells & Young’s, places like Max’s Taphouse and Bertha’s both had this Special London Ale in bottles and on tap now and again. I’m not sure it still comes over today, but back then, it was a sturdy beer. It had enough body and heft where it wasn’t destroyed by the journey across the ocean. I had a chance to meet Sir John Young when he came to the States years ago and was able to compliment him on this beer, even just the look of it in the glass, with its orangey-amber color, with the sharp bitterness that wasn’t citrusy—it was almost Parmesan with some malty toffee flavors. By today’s standards, it might not be that aggressive, but back then, it was a bigger and stronger flavor than most everything else on offer, and it got my mind thinking about beer and helped push me toward eventually opening my own brewery.”

Stoudts Honey Double MaiBock

Make & Drink Better Beer

Subscribe today to access all of the premium brewing content available (including this article). With thousands of reviews, our subscribers call it "the perfect beer magazine" and "worth every penny." Your subscription is protected by a 100% money back guarantee.

John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.