WHY WE FIGHT: Clash Of The Beer Barons


Yards sold just under $2 million in beer last year and had recently begun to turn a profit. So what caused the breakup? Depends on whom you ask. “There was a difference in our opinions of work ethic,” said Bill Barton, formerly in the auto-auction business. He, his wife and McBride joined Yards in 1999, after [Yard’s co-owner Tom] Kehoe’s original partner and co-founder, Jon Bovit, bowed out. Barton said he and his wife were out selling the beer, persuading bars to set up Yards taps. Kehoe would show up late and leave early. “He was on a free ride,” Barton said.

Kehoe laughed at that. “We’re still cordial,” he said. Kehoe said Bill and Nancy Barton were more committed to their Kensington building than they were to the brew. When Yards, which fermented its first beers in 1994 in a 900-square-foot brewery in Manayunk, outgrew its second location in Roxborough, it moved to Kensington in 1999. The firm set up at the Weisbrod & Hess brewery, which last produced beer in 1939. Now restored, the building at Hagert and Martha Streets houses the brewery plus an eclectic mix of businesses.

But, said Kehoe, it is too small and too awkwardly configured for a growing beer firm. “We’re maxed out there,” Kehoe said. He said that Yards did not have the capacity to produce much more than its 10,000 barrels a year at that building. As is, manufacturers have to saw the legs off the tanks to fit them in the building, he said.

INQUIRER: Bickering Beer Barons Break Up Brewery

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