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In 1994 friends Tom Kehoe and Jon Bovit established Yards after producing their own homebrews since 1988. Within the first few months, "the Yards Guys" were producing one six-keg batch at a time out of their 3.5-barrel brewhouse, and supplying ESA, Entire Porter, and several other cask-conditioned ales to bars. After several partnership changes, Kehoe has continued expanding the Yards brand by moving to larger locations and incrementally increasing the overall output capacity. In 2015, Yards was capable of brewing 55,000 barrels. Yards is currently planning yet another expansion, which would almost effectively double their brewing capability, raising the annual production volume to 200,000 barrels.

Yards ESA was first publicly poured at the Philadelphia Craft Beer Festival on April 29, 1995 in booth 406. Many people refer to this day as "Ground Zero" for today’s Philadelphia beer scene.[citation needed] Dawson Street Pub purchased one of the first ESA kegs from Yards, and offered hand-pumped pours to customers during a happy hour on Friday May 19, 1995. The remaining ESA kegs were self-delivered by Bovit and Kehoe to Khyber Pass, Cavanaugh's 39th Street, and Sugar Mom's

The first facility was a garage-sized brewery located at 219 Krams Avenue in Manayunk. By the end of 1996, Yards had grown to a production capability of 795 barrels.[3] In 1997 Yards moved to 5050 Umbria Street in the neighboring section of Roxborough. This larger facility allowed Yards to bottle its beer for the first time, and to contract brew for Manayunk Brewing Company, Dock Street Brewing Company, Barley Creek Brewing Company, and Gravity Brew Co., which has since closed. At the height of this location's production, Yards had brewed 2100 barrels.[4]

Yards Brewing Company moved in 2001 to the old Weisbrod & Hess Brewery in Kensington. Tom Kehoe partnered and signed the lease for this property with Bill and Nancy Barton. At this new location, Yards was capable of brewing 10,000 barrels.[4]

Yards - Northern Liberties Tasting Room

This partnership was short lived, and in 2007 Kehoe and the Barton family split ways. This allowed Kehoe to sign a lease on the current location property located in Northern Liberties. Within the first year at this new location Yards had brewed 6,500 barrels. This location was the first brewery in Pennsylvania to be powered, entirely, by wind.[5] It features a 100-person maximum capacity pub-styled tasting room, featuring a 12-tap system, a century old billiards table, and a shuffleboard. The same year Yards "went 100% green" (2011), they achieved status as a "Regional Craft Brewer" by the Brewer's Association and reintroduced the original 3.5 barrel system, "Yards One."[6] As of 2015, the Northern Liberties location reached a capacity of 55,000 barrels and had successfully brewed 41,500 barrels.[7][6]

Despite the large output capacity, Kehoe desired an even larger facility. In 2016, Kehoe had stated that Yards was looking to move to a location on the 500 block of Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia. Out of the proposed location's 200,000 square feet, Yards' new facility would occupy 80,000 feet. Due to concerns of what would happen should Kehoe and the Yards team decide to move yet again, the zoning committee needed to further deliberate the location approval.[8] As of March 2017, M&T Bank granted Yards Brewing Company an $8.5 million loan to begin constructing their new 70,000 square foot facility located in the now vacant Destination Maternity headquarters. The estimated cost for the completion of the project is $19 million. The remaining financial backing is reported to be coming from local and state financing. Construction is estimated around $6 million, while equipment is estimated to cost $13 million. Tom Kehoe stated that this "labor of love" would bring "new life to this area of Spring Garden" when it opens. The tentative launch date is set sometime between October and December 2017.

Yards had been a self-distributing brewery, from Kehoe and Bovit's first keg deliveries of ESA to Dawson Street Pub, Khyber Pass, Cavanaugh's 39th St, and Sugar Mom's, until 2008. Yards then partnered with Muller, Inc to begin regional and interstate distribution.[12] Currently, Yards' products are distributed throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with 80% of its nearly 40,000 barrel production being distributed in the Philadelphia tri-state area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware). As of May 2015 Yards is the largest brewery operating in the city of Philadelphia.

Friends Jon Bovit and Tom Kehoe had a long-standing history of brewing beers for their friends while in college. After completing a brewery internship with British Brewing Company in Maryland, the duo partnered and signed a lease for the original Manayunk facility.[2] Despite the long-standing history between the two, and the brand gaining recognition, Bovit resigned from the company in 1999. While no longer a financial partner, Bovit is still reported to collaborate on certain brews with Kehoe.[4]

In 2001, Kehoe found new financial and business partners, Nancy and Bill Barton.[4] The trio moved on to open the Kensington location, in the restored Weisbrod and Hess brewery, which allowed Yards to construct a bottling line, and open a tasting room for the general public.[7] Although this partnership only lasted until 2007, the company had gained financial stability, increased brand recognition, and quadrupled the brewery's output capacity. After their formal resignation in July 2007, the Barton family leased the space to Kehoe until he could find a new location for Yards. They then went on to transform their facility into the headquarters of the Philadelphia Brewing Company.