Court Avenue Brewing Company (Des Moines, IA)

After our birdwalk at Neal Smith NWR, we were both hungry and thirsty.  What better time to visit a brewpub!  Once we located an exit to get to downtown Des Moines, it was not hard to locate the Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Company

The brewpub was near the IMAX theater and several bail bondsman storefronts (I’m not sure what that says about this town…)  The only “problem” was parking – we found a meter, but it was a little pricy.  Court Avenue does feature free parking after 5 PM.

The brewpub was in a building which is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Built in 1881, it is the former Des Moines Saddlery Co. where they made harnesses, saddles and leather works.  The downstairs portion has been restored into a busy downtown restaurant.  After the great flood of 1993 filled the first floor with 19 feet of water, the brewpub moved in.  There was a wait for tables in the more refined dining area, so we ate in the more informal bar area.  I can’t confirm it, but it may have been a non-smoking facility.

Our beers were fine; our food was terrific!  They generally carry 7 continuous craft beers and one seasonal, as well as homemade rootbeer (they list it as Zimmerman’s Rootbeer – 0% ABV).  We had:

  • Honest Lawyer IPA (4.3% ABV) – deep copper color with a dry hop aroma; very nice flavor for a low alcohol IPA.
  • Blackhawk Stout on Cask (4.9% ABV) – roasty but lacking full body
  • and the seasonal Honey Ale (ABV unknown) – non-descript copper colored ale

We didn’t try: Two Rivers Light, Capital Raspberry Wheat, Kaplan Hat Hefeweisen, Topping Pale Ale, Pointer Brown Ale, Blackhawk Stout on tap.

The Spent Grain Pretzels appetizer looked wonderful (served with caramel, beer cheese and stone ground mustard), but we didn’t have it.  I’d really like to go back again just to try that! 

D ate the Asian Chicken Salad with Thai Peanut Sauce (which he described as “way better than McDonald’s” – I should say so!  The orange ginger vinaigrette was fabulous with the mandarin oranges and wontons; he topped it all off with the bartender’s private stash of Sriracha hot sauce.)  I fell in love with my Vegetarian Burrito which featured a falafel, Spanish rice and black beans in a tomato basil tortilla topped off with sour cream and fire-roasted salsa with a side salad.

With time running out on our meter, we went down the street (a little tricky since Des Moines has several one-way streets that seem to start/end in random patterns) to Raccoon River Brewing Company.  Unfortunately, they took advantage of the long weekend and closed Monday, July 3.  D says they have an IPA that I would absolutely love.  When I come back to Des Moines for spent grain pretzels at Court Avenue, maybe I’ll check it out.


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