Tom Kehoe of Yards on ‘Brews Cruises’ and the next big thing in beer

What’s better than a cruise in the summertime? A beer cruise, mateys — that’s what. Philadelphia’s own Yard’s Brewing Company has teamed up with Spirit of Philadelphia for a beer cruise that sails once a month from June to October, featuring popular Yards’ brews. Guests will enjoy an open beer bar and a Brews Cruise Dinner Buffet all while taking in gorgeous views the city skyline and the Ben Franklin Bridge. We chatted with Tom Kehoe, Founder of Yards Brewing Company, on the fun collaboration as well as what’s the next big thing in beer.

How did you get your start brewing beer?
I started making beer in my dorm room in college at Western Maryland College, which is now McDaniel. We found a beer marking kit and wanted to see if we could do it. It was fun. It turned out decent, at least we thought so at the time! [laughs]

What led you to make beer your business?
We went to a brewery to visit in the late ‘ 80s. It was such a great experience, and we saw that it was a lot like how we were making it at home. I started working for this brewery and realized this is what I really wanted to do. Eventually, I ran up my credit card and got my equipment.

Why the name Yards?
The company we worked for was the British Brewing Company. The style of beer we really liked was English Ales and we wanted a name that was very British or English and we thought of Scotland Yard. It took three years for us to get a location, but we started calling ourselves Yards during that time.

Why is Philly such a great beer city?
We were the beer place of American before Milwaukee. Back then, people weren’t drinking soda. They were drinking beer on their lunchbreak. It was really rooted in this town. Then when imports started coming in, it was very readily accepted by the restaurants and distributors here.

What is your favorite beer to drink in the summer?
Summertime for me it’s definitely Philadelphia Pale Ale. I also love the Saison, it’s our Belgian-style. Your mood changes when the warmer weather hits. The lighter beers are so much nicer to drink. When it’s cold out I definitely go for the darker ones.

You guys have a whole line of beers dedicated to the founding fathers. Which founding father do you relate to most?
I’d have to say Thomas Jefferson and not just because his first name is Thomas! [laughs] He was an innovator and was constantly thinking about where the country is going. I try to think about where is beer going. What’s the next fun thing that people are going to jump on. That’s what we try to do at Yards.

So what is the next fun thing in beer?
Beer is going to come back to some of the simpler beers. The Pilsner and the lighter Pale Ales are going to be the beers people are going to gravitate towards. The IPAs have done really well on the market, they’re delicious, but they’re high in alcohol content. People don’t want to go out and have two or three beers and not be able to drive home or walk home. Maybe you want to stay out with friends and have four beers or five beers. You can do that when you’re having a Pilsner that has great flavor or a Pale Ale that has a little hoppiness or crispness to it.

If you could have beers with any Philadelphian, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Wow. Haven’t really thought about that. That’s pretty cool. Chuck Bednarik. He was a football player for the Eagles, one of the last 60-minute men. He was apparently a total character — the kind of guy who would have great insight into why the world is the way it is. He’d be great to have a beer with.

For more info on the Yards Brews Cruises, visit:

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