Why Yards Still See Viability in Virtual Tastings

Put together in sort of a rush during the pandemic, now about four years later Yards founder Tom Kehoe still likes to sit and talk about his Philadelphia brewery and its beer to a computer screen.

“I’m so proud of our story, and I think most people in the company loved to tell it,” he said. “We built the brewery, we want to bring you on tour and show it to you. Being proud of something doesn’t get old.”

Yards continues to find new connections by utilizing virtual tastings and Kehoe still finds them a viable way to introduce the brand to both new and old consumers. 

“You’re finding some people are craft beer addicts that are part of it. And for some people, it’s like, look, I don’t know if I like beer, because I haven’t had the right beer,” Kehoe told Brewer in a recent Brewer Mag Video Podcast. “You got to show them that we’re a local company, you should buy from us because of that, but you just should also buy what you like. 

“Some aren’t beer savvy and just by doing the virtual tasting, we try to speak to everybody’s level. That’s one reason I like to have two-way communication with the people that are part of the virtual tasting.”

A lot of the meetings are set up as a corporate event for a company’s employees. Even to this day with remote work becoming more of a norm, having a beer tasting over Zoom is the new way to have drinks outside of the office. Kehoe has hosted up to 100 people on a virtual tour — in which he typically goes over the history of the almost 30-year-old company along with running over four different core brands available in cans from the brewery — but typically it will be about 15-20 people connecting in, which gives a chance for everyone to chat and share their thoughts on the beer and the brewery’s story.

“I’ve got sort of like a script, just because I know the product so well,” he said. “It’s like a script, but it’s really just me talking off the cuff. I really try to get some people talking and answering questions and seeing how well they’re into beer. 

READ MORE: The Ways Tröegs Creates a Virtual Beer Shelf to Entice, Educate Consumers​

“You can do that virtually because you’re not virtually tasting the beer. You’re actually tasting the beer because you have it in front of you. That’s kind of a great thing about it. The conversation is virtual, but the actual tasting and what you’re doing isn’t. That is what makes these virtual tastings successful.”

Coordinating the effort can come in a variety of ways. For more local companies in the Philly area, they can go and pick up the beer from the brewery or the brewery will ship it to the main office and everyone can pick up a four-pack which the brewery specially creates for these events. Having the cans be brands that are most likely available locally can mean a repeat sale of something that clicked with a consumer who may have tried it for the first time during the virtual tasting.

For Kehoe, the bonus of doing this virtual means he isn’t tethered to the brewery for tours — which he still loves to do as well — but he can be in his office, at home, or even on vacation.

“It’s getting your name out there,” he stressed “And I’m thinking that if we go into new markets, things like that, that this might be a really great tool, just to try to give some people that don’t know enough about our company, but are willing to try the beer. 

“And if they can get a tutor tasting with that, that would be awesome.”

Yards still get some response from advertising; they will continue to do these events online — even as a hybrid for people who can’t make an in-person event. Kehoe added that doing this can turn into seeing someone who was online first make their way to the brewery to experience it in person as well.

“When you do it, there’s really good energy, and I like doing it,” he said. “I think that’s something that comes across, but it hasn’t flamed out. It’s still something that fits.”

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