Thursday, October 15, 2009

Des Moines Missives

I just returned from spending a few days in Downtown Des Moines while attending a public health conference. The beer scene around Court Avenue is heavily weighted toward Oktoberfest beers at this time of year.

As one would imagine, the Hessen Haus was pouring Spaten, Ayinger, and Paulaner fest bier. Unseen in Nebraska this season was the Becks Oktoberfest on tap as well. Raccoon River Brewing was serving up both an Oktoberfest as well as a German Pilsner as their current seasonals. The pils was fairly unusual with what I identified as a quinine flavor to the finish.

Down the street at Court Avenue Brewing, their seasonal Oktoberfest met with my satisfaction. Brewer Mike has an interesting take on Märzen in that he uses plenty of Mt. Hood hops in his fest bier to give it something of an "American" edge. While clearly not very German, this was indeed tasty. Finally, El Bait Shop was loaded with Oktoberfest beers made by US craft brewers. I tried Oktoberfests from Rogue, Bells, Goose Island (Harvest), and Great River. Of these, only Bells was reminiscent of a German Märzen.

I also had a delicious Old Speckled Hen on nitro at The Royal Mile, a Big Sky Oatmeal Stout at Fongs, and a bomber of Shipyard Barleywine at El Bait Shop.

One new beer spot to report in Des Moines is a hole in the wall rathskellar known as "Shorty's." It is located behind a restaurant on Court Avenue and below in the basement. I doubt that the place could seat more than 20 people and has only 4 micro taps. However, it has a real funky decor and feel if you like completely out of the way joints. Shorty's is owned by the same outfit as all the other Court Avenue niche beer places (Hessen/Royal Mile/Red Monk/High Life/El Bait/Fongs), but word on the street is that Shorty's is the "hidden" hangout for the owners and their pals. Sort of the kind of place that they wanted the High Life Lounge to be before it became so popular.

So while this is not Nebraska Beer to blog about, keep in mind that Des Moines is a great beer road trip from Omaha where one can get yourself a little somethin' that you can't get at home (to borrow a line from Tom Waits).

1 comment:

nickspies said...

Cool. Thanks for the write-up. Keep them coming.