The new Yard House near Fenway Park is something else. Everything about it screams enormity. The space is massive, with room for several hundred people and tables as far as the eye can see -- and past where the eye can see are outdoor patios where patrons can stand while drinking and eating. The beer menu is huge: I counted 140 beers on tap, which makes it the biggest beer lineup in the Boston area. And big flat-panel TVs are everywhere: From my perch at the bar this weekend, I could view 13 screens.
The California-based chain, which has three dozen spots across the United States, including one in Dedham, moved into the old Boston Billiard Club building on Brookline Avenue and threw open its doors a week ago. The food is upscale pub far (I highly recommended the Mediterranean vegetable sandwich with portobello, eggplant, and roasted red peppers), and the focus is of course on craft beer.
All styles are well represented, from hoppy ales like Green Flash West Coast IPA and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA to Belgian beers like St. Bernardus Abt 12 and Gulden Draak, with several local brews scattered about, including Pretty Things Jack D'Or and Wachusett Green Monsta IPA (naturally, given the location).
As for criticisms, I have two, both having to do with the beer menu: (1) There are no prices, and (2) alcohol contents are not listed. People who enjoy craft beer like to know how much booze we're putting in our systems. We also like to know how much we're paying for that glass of beer, since prices can vary widely. Virtually every craft beer establishment lists prices and ABVs these days. Yard House can do it too. (Prices seem normal for Boston: A pint of Green Flash was $6.50, and a tulip of Jack D'Or was $6.75.)
The place wasn't very busy on a mid-March weekend afternoon, but you can be sure it will be hopping before and after a Red Sox game. One hopes there is enough room in the neighborhood for another great beer spot, since Yard House sits only a couple of blocks from Boston Beer Works. Although it's impossible to get in the door at Beer Works before a Sox game, one might worry about how the two places will coexist at other times. On the other hand, maybe this will free up some space in my other favorite Kenmore Square spot, the Lower Depths on Commonwealth Avenue.