Beer Trip: Downtown Des Moines, IA

Headed to Des Moines this past weekend with my wife and her family. Was looking forward to hitting up the town a bit on Saturday night and get a chance to try some beers and visit El Bait Shop ( for the first time in my life. We decided to try to get in Fong’s Pizza for a few slices. We had never had the chance to go there and my wife and I really wanted to try the crabmeat rangoon pizza. When we arrived we were greeted with a 2-hour wait time; which was expected but we were hoping to be wrong. Since that plan feel through we hit up Court Avenue Brewery ( We had been there many times and their wings are some of my favorite all-time. I started out with the Honest Lawyer IPA.
The Honest Lawyer is a very solid IPA with the citrus and bitterness being nicely balanced by the malts. A good way to start the night. I moved on to one of their premium beers which was their 21st Amendement Ale which was an American pale ale aged in Templeton Rye whiskey barrels. The flavor was a tad sweet to me but overly it was enjoyable and I was glad to try it. Court Avenue is always a good place to stop in downtown Des Moines.

After that we headed to Hessen Haus. Really wanted my wife to check this place out; looks like an old German brew hall. They had the polka music going, some great spicy pickled eggs, and then the infamous BOOT. The last time I tried the boot I spilled half the beer on myself, but we went for it and conquered it. Cool vibe and fun experience at the Hessen Haus (

The last trip was what I was really looking forward to and that was El Bait Shop ( I’ve read and heard so much about this place and it did not disappoint. A dive looking place with a wall lined with tons of taps. Always great to see that. I tried for a Hopslam and they were out, which was no surprise. So I went the direction of a stout. I’ve never had a nitro beer and they had Summit Oatmeal Stout Nitro on tap. Went with that and I could have drank it all night. If a beer is on a nitro tap that means it replaces the carbon dioxide and makes your beer have a thick, creamy, head with a light, creamy texture. It was one of the best stouts I’ve ever had and look forward to trying it again. Summit needs to get some bottles of that stout around Eastern Iowa. Throw in a Sierra Nevada Celebration and finish with another stout and that was a night. My wife loved the Sam Adams Chocolate Cherry Bock. The place gets two thumbs up all around.
To top off the evening at El Bait Shop, they have a sweet pro wrestling shrine leading up to the crapper. Loved it!

The next morning we finally got to Fongs for pizza. It was as great as I had heard. The crab rangoon pizza is something that I will crave constantly and is deserving of quick trips to Des Moines just to eat. Great stuff!

One thought on “Beer Trip: Downtown Des Moines, IA

  1. Slim says:

    Downtown Des Moines has come a long way from what I’ve heard. I’ve only been here for less than two years but I guess it didn’t always these great offerings. Hesse Haus is a great establishment, good overall bar experience. Fong’s Pizza is phenomenal and they carry a lot of local brews. Court Ave Brewing has great food, good brews, and a fancy dining experience and bait shop’s selection of beer says it all. If you eastern Iowa folk are looking for a change from the ped mall in Iowa City, give Downtown Des Moines a try and you won’t be disappointed!

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