BEER CITIES: DES MOINES

All we want to do is drink your beer

I had the “opportunity” to travel to Iowa last week, a state so boring I feel bad even making jokes.* In three nights we hit three restaurants and a bar that were nothing short of fantastic for food and beer alike.

*Ok, not that bad. It may be the only state more boring than the one in which I currently reside.

Zombie Burger

Ok, this is not really a beer bar, though none of us would go thirsty. It is a zombie movie themed burger restaurant, but it is awesome enough that Aleheads everywhere need to know about it. The place is full of zombie pop art, has about twenty or so cleverly-named burger options, (e.g. the Boomstick and the Juan of the Dead), and a milkshake called the Tallahassee (of course, with a Twinkie blended into it). The burger I ordered (named They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara) came between two grilled cheese sandwiches instead of buns. Yeah, I’m going to let that sink in for a sec. Oh, and there were also about ten taps including Bell’s Two-hearted, and 40 or so craft bottle options, which means it was solid on the beer front as well. Nice work, guys.

Shouldn't the double come on three grilled cheese sandwiches??

Court Avenue Brewing

Downtown Des Moines’ premier brewery. Actually I think it is downtown Des Moines’s only brewery, although there are a couple others within city limits. The menu was mostly fairly standard fare, but very well executed and tasty. There were the standard four or five year-round session styles that just about every brewery produces. But from there, things got interesting–they have a “premier” line of more inventive beers including:

21st Amendment Ale– A dry hopped rye pale ale aged in rye whiskey barrels. Out of the glass a huge whiff of vanilla and oak, some spicy rye, and a big hop nose. 3.5 Hops

Infactuation– A Belgian-style dubbel blended with a Flemish brown that was brewed with raspberries. Though I appreciate the creative effort, it didn’t quite hit the nail on the head for me. 2 Hops

They also had a dry-hopped imperial brown and a saison on cask that we didn’t get around to trying, but sounded good.

Marco Polo should have been on this one.

Fong’s Pizza

This one came as a recommendation from a local. It’s an old chop suey restaurant that switched over to become a pizza joint, but never forgot its roots. We split an order of pizza rolls (mozzarella, pepperoni and sausage stuffed into a egg-roll wrapper and deep fried), and got a Mu-Shu Pork Pizza for the main course. There were about ten taps, and 50 or so bottles, plus a full service tiki bar for those looking for a beverage with a little more rum in it. We stayed local and drank beers from Peace Tree Brewing.

Rye Porter– The standard Peace Tree dark, a departure from your ho-hum porter or dry stout, bottle conditioned with Belgian Yeast. The rye added a slick mouthful and a touch of sourness. 2.5 Hops

Hop Wrangler IPA- The perfect name for an Iowan IPA. Again a bit of a departure from the norm, their standard IPA is brewed with Belgian yeast, and reminded me a bit of Little Sumpin’ Wild from Lagunitas, which should be considered high praise. 3.0 Hops

Not pictured: the cream of sumyungai.

El Bait Shop

A stereotypical dive bar with mangy taxidermied animals, wood paneling, live music, and 116 craft taps, plus more in the bottle. You know, the usual. I tried the Peace Tree IPA Hop Sutra DIPA which was good, (3 Hops) and then switched to Bells Expedition Stout (4 Hops) because it was 10 degrees outside and I wanted a 10% ABV beer that tasted like a chocolate milkshake. Got a problem?

While it may not be Ashville or Portland, Des Moines is a pretty good city for beer, and any Alehead should be happy if they are forced to visit at some point. Just wear your eating pants.

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4 comments

  1. All the food from this trip sounds pretty good. What the hell is on that pizza?

  2. “A tangy blend of house and hoisin bbq, diced pork, vegetables, cabbage and mozzarella, garnished with green onion.” aka pure deliciousness.

  3. The Des Moines food scene is getting better and better. The Flying Mango has great food. Regarding beer, check out Beer Crazy in Urbandale, IA next time your in the neighborhood. I’m just a happy patron of both places.

  4. Thanks for the recommendations Jazz1!

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