One might expect a "pugilist style ale" to pack a knock-out punch, but the Brawler, the latest hit brew from Yards, scores points like a crafty lightweight with distinctive style and malty finesse.

The Brawler is a "session" ale, a relatively low-alcohol approach (about 4 percent) that's part of a growing trend in craft brewing to counter the high-octane extreme beer movement. It doesn't sacrifice flavor, though, with a malt-forward amber richness that won't cloy or weigh you down after a few rounds (thus the name.) Technically, it's a "dark English mild," which is a fitting return to the British styles (like the ESA) that made Yards a force to begin with. As the signature new beer to emerge from Yards' new facility in Philadelphia, which became operational in the fall after several months of off-site contract brewing, this bantam brew delivers the satisfaction of a comeback worth the wait.

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Yards Brawler is available at local beer distributors for around $27 a case. It's also available in local bars, including Pub & Kitchen (1946 Lombard St., 215-545-0350), for $4 a pint.

- Craig LaBan