The amount of local breweries that are popping up in the Des Moines area is seemingly overflowing the local pint glass. With over 200 different types of local beers being brewed, it’s tough to decide on which Des Moines brewery to visit. We’ve rounded-up the data based on Untappd monthly check-ins to give you the best breweries to visit in Des Moines.
Here are the 7 best breweries in Des Moines.
1. Exile Brewing
Despite its brief existence (Est’d. 2012), perhaps no brewery has become more ubiquitous with Des Moines then Exile Brewing Company. But with a 60 year pedigree in the business, it’s hard to expect anything less from Des Moines’ first family of restaurant entrepreneurs. Stop in for a brew in the industrial-chic beer hall, or dine in for some of the best brew-pub fare you’ve had (insider tip: get the Exile fries with truffle oil and garlic aioli…you can thank me later.)
Try this: Gigi, a german style dark lager that recently took home gold at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
2. Confluence Brewery
1235 Thomas Beck Road Des Moines (map) www.confluencebrewing.com From the outside, it looks just like any other nondescript storefront. But the commitment to brewing delicious craft beer is evident from the minute you set foot inside Confluence Brewing. Rather than a lavish entry into a lofty taproom, an immense wall of stainless steel tanks and fermenters greet you before an awkward hallway leads you around the brewing floor to the comparatively compact taproom in the rear. Which, on most nights (thanks to its close proximity to downtown and a highly traveled bike path) is a hive of activity. The diverse output of high-quality beers this homebrewer-turned-pro brewer team regularly release keep both old and new Iowa craft beer fans coming back for more. Try this: Thomas Beck Black IPA. Black wheat rather than roasted grains keeps this dark pouring beer light bodied, while a special hop blend make it easily drinkable.
3. Firetrucker Brewery
716 SW 3rd Street Ankeny (map) www.firetrucker.com Beer is art. Yes, there is an art to making good beer (as any homebrewer can attest), but Firetrucker brewery in Ankeny takes this theme to the next level. The brewery doubles as an exhibition gallery, regularly showcasing works from local artists like Van Holmgren and Chris Vance throughout their tap room. Their beer style line-up cards dazzles with brilliant customized designs. And the brews rolling out of this firehouse turned brew house continue to get better. Try This: Tropical Burn, a Double/Imperial IPA with a mango and citrus punch
4. 515 Brewing Company
Started by four homebrewers, no Des Moines brewery has made more waves than 515. Output has tripled since opening in 2013, having outgrown their original 2-barrel brew system and installing a new 7-barrel system last year. With beers this good though, it’s hard not to see why. From their juicy OJ IPA to their continued phenomenal outpouring of single-hopped Pale Ales…these beers compete with any others in the state. Decorah’s Toppling Goliath may have had Iowa’s first ISO beer, but 515 has (unofficially) claimed that title for the metro.
Try this: The aforementioned OJ IPA drinks like fresh-squeezed orange juice from a roadside fruit stand in Florida. And I mean that in the best way possible.
5. Madhouse Brewing
Originally based in Newton, Iowa, this brewery has found its spot near the East Village area. Since establishing in 2014, Madhouse pours five year-round beers from their taps, plus a selection of seasonal beers. Inside, the tasting room seats about 40 along with a patio allowing additional seating in the summer. The owner, Mason Groben doesn’t just know how to make beer. He also owns Jasper Winery.
Try this: Sumatra Stout, a coffee stout featuring Zanzibar’s house roasted Sumatra coffee beans. The coffee is cold pressed and added just prior to carbonation.
6. Court Avenue Brewing
This was and is Des Moines’ original brewery since prohibition. It was 1996 when Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Company began to utilize brewing equipment and start the craft beer scene in Des Moines. The building that it is currently in, the Saddlery Building, has some history to it: It was built in 1881 by Mr. J. Rubelman of Muscatine, Iowa. The building has also been home to a shoemaker, rubber company, stove manufacturer, glove company, the Krispy Kone Company and the Kaplan Hat Company. Most of the pictures, posters, signs and bottles are antiques from historic Iowa breweries.
Try this: Pointer Brown Ale, a balance of several hops surrounded by caramel and chocolate notes will lead you to pointing at this brew consistently.
7. Fox Brewing
What does the (Brian) Fox say? He says let there be a brewery in West Des Moines! This place is truly all about blood, sweat and hops. After fighting the local laws of West Des Moines, Brian won and opened his taproom. Since winning, he has been able to showcase six outstanding beers. His dependable lineup consists of the Foxy Blonde Belgian Ale and Fox Tail Irish Red Ale along with a few other seasonal beers. It’s the latest spot in Des Moines and the votes show Fox Brewing is on the hunt to be one of the best breweries in the Des Moines metro area.
Try this: Fox Trots, a chocolatey 8.2% milk stout that will keep your sweet tooth happy.
Don’t worry, I’ve been there too…but we’ve got you covered. Want to see a movie instead? Check out Flix Brewhouse: one of the movie theaters in the country serving you house-made brews during the show. Or if you prefer a night in, stop by Hy-Vee and grab a bottle of Freedom. That’s Freedom IPA by New American Brewing Company, a two-barrel brew house in Ankeny specializing in high-quality hand crafted beers and distributing only in central Iowa. Do you agree with this list? Would you swap the rankings of several breweries? Let us know in the comments or tell us on Twitter (@dsmbrewster or @dmfoodster)