Kip Snider knows Colorado beer.
"Great Divide does a bang-up job. I've always been a fan of New Belgium, and they are really stepping out of the box recently with some of their new beers," he says. "Odell, Left Hand. I like all beer. Some of Avery's stuff is my favorite."
So when the Long Beach, California-based Yard House restaurant chain opens its thirtieth location this October in downtown Denver, around a third of its 110 different beers (130 tap handles total, but some will be duplicates) will be local microbrews.
"It all comes down to the local market," says Snider, who is the beverage director and "beer guru" for Yard House. "We only deal with draft beer, so when I look a beer list, I want to make sure I add as many local beers as possible."
That's what Snider did for the Yard House at the Colorado Mills in Lakewood. But then something funny happened. "I got user submissions left and right saying, 'We can get these beers all over town,'" he remembers. "They were looking for unique stuff that they can't get their hands on. Stuff from the West Coast, the East Coast. They were asking for that instead of stuff from local breweries. And when guests speak, I have to go that route."
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There are now 28 local handles on tap in Lakewood, and while Snider says he'd love to run both Colorado Yard Houses off the same beer list, he doubts that will work.
"They are very savvy on their beer in the downtown area," he says, pointing to the Falling Rock Tap House, the Wynkoop and other places that have serious beer followings, and have helped educate people who spend time downtown about craft beer.
And he doesn't want to step on the toes of those establishments. "We want to be a partner with them," he explains. "The more beer bars, the more the public comes to know and understand what is going on in the beer world."
Yard House signed a lease earlier this month for the 10,442-square-foot former Bravo Ristorante space at 1550 Court Place, in the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel; the upscale place will seat 415 inside, with an additional 48 seats on the patio.