Des Moines, IA: A United States Craft Beer Destination

Millennials love Des Moines. Thanks to such affordable housing, the past few decades have seen an influx of young people moving to the Iowa capitol. As a result, the Des Moines nightlife and bar scene has become one of the biggest brewery regions in the nation. Why Des Moines? Thanks to the supple farmland and farming community throughout Iowa, it’s never been easier to access locally grown produce and grain. That means a rise in the number of craft breweries and locally-sourced restaurants using the best Des Moines craft beer.

This ease of access to grained has also led to a rising popularity in homebrewing. And thanks to a 2009 Iowa law allowing breweries to start brewing high-alcohol content (over 5%) beers, higher alcohol content craft beers have become a staple in the average beer consumer repertoire. Today, there are nearly 1.2 million home-brewers in the Midwest alone. By 2019, Iowa is expected to have produced more than 123,000 barrels of craft beer.

Best Des Moines Craft Beer

Even before the law had passed and the alcohol level was raised, Iowa was seeing a dramatic effect from craft breweries on the local economy in the Midwest, with personal incoming rising $42 million in 2014. But their creations couldn’t remain theirs alone. By 2017 there were over 70 registered breweries.

But don’t let these daunting numbers overwhelm you. Here are three of the best craft breweries in Des Moines, Iowa that every local and visit must place on their bucket list.

Iowa Craft Beer, Best Des Moines Craft Beer
Craft Beer at 2016 Iowa State Fair: Image on Flickr by Phil Roeder / CC BY 2.0

Confluence Brewing Company

Ever since high school, John Martin has had a passion for brewing. He began his roller coaster of a journey with his home product – an almond raisin homebrew. Sadly, things did not go as planned.

But his passion never diminished, and after years of extensive hobbying – bordering on obsession – he met his future partner and Confluence co-founder, Ken Broadhead, in 2012 and together they began their next journey by opening a “confluencing” tribute to two aspects they loved, beer and Iowa.

Now going on 6 years strong, Confluence remains one of the most welcoming breweries in downtown Des Moines. Just a hop and skip from the bike path, Confluence is the perfect place to ride your bikes to on a beautiful Sunday. And, of course, dogs are welcome on the deck and in the beer gardens. Want to check out the brewery itself? Tours are on Friday at 6:00pm and Saturdays at 3:30pm for $10 and come with an exclusive 16 oz. custom chalice glass.

Craft Beer in Iowa, tent, des moines
Inside the Iowa Craft Beer Tent: Image on Flickr by Phil Roeder / CC BY 2.0

Exile Brewing Company

Known for both its beer and its delectable pub fare; Exile Brewing Company is one of the most popular Des Moines breweries for those looking for a more trendy experience. Located in an old industrial building north of Racoon River; guests are treated to one of the most avant-garde experiences dining experience in Des Moines.

Did I mention the delectable pub fare? In addition to a wide variety of the best Des Moines craft beer – such as the Zotan Session IPA and Beatnik Sour – Exile’s signature menu ranges from the traditional pub favorite of Four Cheese Mac to their mouth-watering Gnocchi. They even do weekend brunch. Thinking of trying it out? You better make a reservation – Exile Brewing Company is one of the most packed craft breweries in town.

515 Brew and Pie Party
515 Brew and Pie Party: Image on Flickr by Yelp Inc. , CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

515 Brewing Company

Looking for a more family-like, relaxing atmosphere? Make your way to 515 Brewing Company, located in West Des Moines. Originally, owners Ryan, Dave, Brandon, and Bailey began their pastime as nothing more than a simple group project, and before they knew it their hobby was “snowballing” into a full fledged business venture, opening in 2013. By 2015, their popularity had grown so quickly that they had to continuously add on new equipment to meet demand, such as switching from a 3-barrel system to a 7-barrel system.

Not only is this craft brewery a local favorite, but a 2017 national favorite as well. 515 Brewing has won two gold medals in the Great American Beer Festival; meaning that it’s award winning beer are on the list for any true craft beer aficionados.

Fire Trucker Brewery, Des Moines
Fire Trucker Brewery, Des Moines: Image on Flickr by Yelp Inc. / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Firetrucker Brewery

Still not convinced of Des Moines’ excellent choices of craft breweries? Then finish your tour at the Firetrucker Brewery, located just north of the center of Des Moines. As one of the cities more colorful breweries, Firetrucker brewers believe crafting beer is an art; and they bring that ethic into everything they do. In addition to hosting live music for local and national artists on Fridays and Saturdays, they often display the work of local artists, like Van Holmgren and Chris Vance. Artists on displayed are invited to hang around the breweries and discuss their work with patrons; making Firetrucker a true artistic community. Top that off with friendly staff, plenty of outdoor and dog-friendly space, excellent beer selections and a choice location in downtown Des Moines; Firetrucker Brewery easily earns its place as one of the top craft Breweries in Des Moines.

About Haley Kieser

My name is Haley and I am originally from Arizona. I have lived also lived in Minnesota and South Dakota. Among my favorites are being outdoors, traveling, Arizona sunsets, Midwest greenery, craft beer, and the Green Bay Packers.

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