501 Collection Blvd.
There once was a bar that lived beyond its reputation. Back in my young days as a professional drinker, Yard House beckoned me with its 125-plus taps and the promise of a half yard of beer of my choice. What’s not to love? The closest Yard House, unfortunately, was in Los Angeles and the trip was never made — until Oxnard received its own branch of the chain. Yard House was no longer a day-trip away.
On a Friday evening at The Collection in Oxnard, Yard House was thriving. The first thing I noticed was the chalk-board specials (let’s be real: can it be called a chalk-board when it’s actually a digital screen?) promising several pumpkin ales and porters.
Dogfish Head’s Punkin, a seasonal pumpkin pie-flavored beer, failed to disappoint. That cinnamon and nutmeg combo that makes pumpkin beers the fall classic hits your nose first and is followed by a malty sweetness reminiscent of a pie crust.
After my first, it was on to the next — or so I thought. The chalk-board promised Alaskan’s Pumpkin Porter. After ordering and waiting five minutes, we were disappointed to learn that the keg had run dry. No matter, on to the next! Clown Shoes Genghis Pecan Porter!
Disappointment has a flavor, and it is the taste of no beer in your mug. The Clown Shoes porter had also run dry.
At what point are the specials taken off the menu? I settled on Ommegang’s Hennepin saison, a classic, but I couldn’t help but feel stung.
Otherwise, Yard House offered up a large selection of mostly generic brews. Think of the most popular craft breweries and you’re guaranteed to find it on tap at Yard House. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but in this the age of craft beer bars, it’s hard to make an excuse to drive out to the Yard House in search of seasonal brews.
Unless your party is a large, amorphous mix of various drinkers for whom beer is an afterthought to a good cocktail. After all, Yard House’s cocktail menu is extensive. It has just enough beer to keep a geek satisfied — if it doesn’t run out before you can get your share.
As with the pumpkin beers that seem so fleeting in Ventura’s short fall, timing is everything with Yard House. If it’s a party you’re after, however, look no further.
Chris O’Neal is sad to watch as pumpkin beers go the way of the dodo. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.