The new wave of pubs just seems to get bigger and bigger.
Last week, the Tampa-chain World of Beer tavern debuted in Renton with 50 beers on tap and 500 different bottles to choose from.
Next Monday, Portland-based Henry’s Tavern will open across from Safeco Field with 100 beers on tap.
A few blocks away, the local chain Lodge Sports Grille opened in Pioneer Square in March with 70 taps.
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A month earlier, the Orange County, Calif., chain Yard House opened in downtown Seattle with 130 beers.
(If you’re keeping score, the undisputed champ of tap beers remains The Tap House, which boasts 160 beers at both its Seattle and Bellevue locations.)
Just how big do we need the beer menu to be? Because I’ve sat at Yard House four times, and the majority of the imbibers aren’t beer geeks but downtown workers. And many seemed overwhelmed by the range of choices. (The menu is almost 20 pages.) I’ve seen folks ask: What’s the difference between a Belgian white and other Belgian beers? A white ale vs. red ale?
As with many mega pubs, the ambience here is too loud, and the staff too busy to give tutorials or engage in any lengthy discussion — unless you come at an off-hour.
While Yard House lacks the charm and comfort of a familiar watering hole, it does meet a need: Unlike downtown Bellevue, downtown Seattle doesn’t have enough big bars to accommodate large parties during happy hour. It can be difficult to find a hangout for you and eight co-workers around 6 p.m.
Yard House can seat about 470, and the staff is efficient in moving folks in and out. There’s an island bar with a low bar-top section for the handicapped. There’s high-top tables in the front, booths on the side and large dining tables in back.
You may have never heard of this popular West Coast chain, but you’ve been here before. Yard House bears a strong resemblance to burnished caverns like The Cheesecake Factory, Hard Rock Café and other variations of the mega-chain model.
Food comes in big portions (no surprise there) and is reasonably priced. The menu is all over the map: a little Italian, Tex-Mex, Asian fusion and comfort food. There are egg rolls and spicy tuna rolls; jambalaya and Caribbean chicken.
For happy hour, the poke I had was drowning in soy sauce and barely edible.
The best happy-hour dishes (and values) are the bar staples: half-off pizza ($6) with a nice flaky, thin crust; four sliders with a side of crispy shoestring fries ($7.45).
Yard House boasts a large list of Belgian and Belgian-style beers from dry to fruity, including most recently a few stellar Saison beers from Brewery Ommegang in Copperstown, N.Y., and Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City.
About 24 taps are devoted to Seattle beers, though the big selling point here is a chance to sample beers you can’t get in your neighborhood pub.
Yard House, 1501 Fourth Ave., offers happy hour weekdays 3-6 p.m. and at night Sundays-Wednesdays 10 p.m. to close. Half price on selected appetizers and pizzas and beer specials from $2.25 to $10. $2 off on wine and specialty cocktails, $6.50 martini and $4.25-$4.75 on well drinks (206-682-2087, http://www.yardhouse.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or email@example.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle