Choosing beers at the Yard House: Part 3
I decide to to buy a Yard House “six pack” – six small glasses of different beers – and invite Kip Snider to pick my poisons. He first asks me what I normally drink. Though I’m a physically stout drinker, I rarely drink stouts. I tell him that I’ve got a lot of India Pale Ales in my near future. It’s also early afternoon on a Thursday, and I’m not looking to call it a night before sunset. Blonds, ambers, hefeweizens – despite the June gloom, it’s almost summer.
The first two beers Snider chooses are from the restaurant’s house selections, which are brewed exclusively for Yard House by Firestone Walker.
No. 1 is the house blond. “Obviously, blonds are one of the biggest sellers for us because it allows everybody to step from that first Coors Light, Miller Light that they’ve had before on to the next stage of beers,” Snider says. “Women like it. Men like it. Just a good, refreshing beer to drink.” It’s an easy, friendly drink.
No. 2 is the house hef. Snider says that, at the time the Yard House asked Firestone Walker for a hefeweizen, the brewery had never done one. “What I told them was that I was looking for something that transitions from an American style to a European style,” Snider says. “A lot of times when people get hooked on the American style, when they try a Bavarian style, it’s too much for them, it’s too spicy for them – too much clove in there, you know, you’re getting all kinds of hints of even banana.” As I take my first sip of it, he says, “It’s got all the wheatiness you want from the American style, but it’s still got that spiciness – not over the top – that you get from a Bavarian style.” And he’s right.
No. 3 is Brugse Zot, a Belgian blond, which Snider calls “one of those introduction beers into the Belgian styles – you know, the Leffes of the world that are just very easy, not over the top. Doesn’t have all that champagne like you get from like a Chimay sometimes. But it’s got all the character you want in a Belgian-style beer.” It has as much character as its logo.
No. 4 is the Affligem Blond, which I’ve had before. I ask Snider how he would explain the difference between it and the Brugse Zot to a customer. “More crisp on the tongue, a little more bubble than the Brugse, more champagne-like,” he says.
No. 5 is a mutual favorite: Kwak, a Belgian amber, though it’s not served in its specialty glass as it is at Wurstkuche. Describing my six-pack progression, Snider says we’re “getting into the Belgian strongs, so obviously it’s going to have more alcohol flavor to it, a little more kick in there. You’re going to taste it on the back of your throat more than the front,” adding that it has sweeter characteristics than the blonds. As I enjoy a long drink, Snider’s enthusiasm bubbles up: “I just want to drink one of those now.”
The final in my mini-tour is the present seasonal beer from New Belgium, the Skinny Dip summer ale, which Snider notes is good for after yard work.
Looking over at the bar, Snider says, “There’s not a bad thing up there. I’ll drink Pabst Blue Ribbon.”
-- Blake Hennon
Photo credit: Blake Hennon / Los Angeles Times