Bar Exam: The drinking yards

Get more beer for your buck—a lot more

Matthew Scott Hunter

Maybe it’s just me, but every time I stroll through the new Town Square shopping metropolis at the south end of the Strip, it reminds me of Disneyland at nighttime. The immaculately clean cobblestone sidewalks, the carefully soft-lit foliage and the trees permanently wrapped in Christmas lights conjure memories of Main Street USA. I half-expect to walk around the corner and encounter a giant Mickey Mouse or … a huge line?

Indeed, I round the corner to find about 30 20-somethings waiting in an immobile line. It’s even more like Disneyland than I thought. Only they’re not lining up for Splash Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean or Captain EO (a reference for those of you old enough to remember that Michael Jackson was once Disney’s idea of quality children’s entertainment)—they’re in line for a bar: Yard House.

The last time I waited in line to get into a bar in Las Vegas was … never. Waiting in lines for bars, as opposed to nightclubs, is something I thought was only practiced by Californians because they’ve gone crazy from too much silicone and too little nicotine. But apparently, this new bar—in only its second week of operation and boasting room for hundreds—is packed to capacity. But since the exiting patrons, who allow the line to progress a few steps every few minutes, seem to be all smiles, my fellow baffled Las Vegans and I wait.

Twenty minutes later, I’m inside, and the first thing I see is frat-boy utopia. The large windows of the hallway reveal a room filled with kegs upon kegs upon kegs. And leading from what I unoriginally dub “The Keg Room” are several thick silver tubes that run across the ceiling into the bedlam of the main bar. Across a sea of people, I see that the pipelines feed into a long narrow island bar, host to 160 taps, pouring 138 kinds of beer. Whoa.

Weaving my way between rowdy groups of patrons singing off-key backup to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” I miraculously find an unoccupied barstool. The guy next to me orders three Rolling Rock beers. Are you kidding? You don’t go to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory to eat a pack of M&M’s. I ask the bartender to surprise me, and he returns with a tall glass of Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale from Hawaii.

I glance around the room to note the décor, but I can’t really see any of it. It’s just wall-to-wall people, and they all seem to be young and attractive, and I’m only on my first beer. (See, in most bars, I can only make that kind of observation unreliably, after four or five beers.) Over the heads of the mob, I can manage to make out 20+ wide-screen TVs, most of which seem to be tuned in to the “People Falling Off of Things” channel. Mountain bikes, skis, skateboards, surfboards—you name it, they fall off of it. By my second glass of Lost Coast Great White, I’m beginning to see the program’s hilarious appeal.

Tuning in to the room’s background chatter, I’m able to ascertain that, in addition to the wait outside, there’s a substantial waiting list for the food. Perusing through the menu, it’s easy to see why. From burgers to steaks to ribs to fresh Hawaiian fish, the list of entrees is comprehensive, to say the least. Most places offer a drink selection to complement any dish. It looks as though this place offers a dish selection to complement any drink, and with 27 martinis, over 50 wines and the aforementioned 138 beers, that’s no easy feat.

Sam, one of the bussers (who’s way too qualified for his job), explains to me how the elaborate keg-to-tap system works. Since Las Vegas’ Yard House, unlike the other locations around the country, keeps its keg room far away from the taps, the pipelines have to be coated in some sort of glucose syrup in order to keep the beer cold on its long journey from keg to glass. I try to keep up with the science behind his explanation, but I’ve just had a very high alcohol content dark Belgian beer called Trois Pistoles, and I’m having trouble contemplating anything more complex than, “Cold beer good.”

Besides, I don’t want to know the mechanics behind it. I just want to enjoy the magic. Yard House may not be Disneyland, but for beer connoisseurs, it’s definitely the most magical place on Earth.

Yard House

6593 Las Vegas Blvd. S.


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