Court Avenue Brewing Company
309 Court Ave
Des Moines, Iowa
Visited on May 10 and September 17, 2007
Very early on in my brewpub tour escapades, I had the opportunity to drive across the country – twice. Once on the way out to California from Indiana and the second on the way back to Ohio. Both times I stopped at Court Avenue Brewing in Des Moines, Iowa.
On the way out, I was with my father. The way back was with my mother. Both experiences were excellent. I remember a giant brick building in a downtown that looked way cooler than anything in the middle of Iowa should be allowed to appear. The city seemed to be going through a renaissance of cool, hip places and things to do downtown.
Anyways, the building was beautiful, the interior was massive, and I really liked the look and feel of the place. The food was spot-on. I remember eating a ginormous French dip one time and some sort of ginormous bowl of gumbo the other. This place doesn’t skimp on portions, and everything tasted great. Also, the dessert was to die for.
But then there’s the beer. I think at the time I was so eager to find a diamond in the rough on my travels that I over-hyped their beer to begin with. Looking back, I don’t remember having anything all that great. So while this place remains fond in my memories, the beer score will keep it from rising to the cream of the crop now that I have a lot more experience under my belt.
The building, located in downtown Des Moines, reveals none of its inner grandeur. But once you come in, you know you’re somewhere special. There are two distinct areas for dining: a bar room and a couple of dining rooms. I can speak for the dining rooms best since I ate there twice. The ceilings are soaring, the tables are large and comfortable, and the decorations are simple yet elegant. You can tell the place has class. The bar room rivals some of my favorite decorations from any bar, brewpub or simple watering hole. Plasma screen TV’s adorn the walls of a brightly decorated bar and high-rise tables. It seems like an ideal place to watch a game or get some brews after works with some friends.
The largeness of the dining areas and tables must have rubbed off on the food. Either that, or they had to make the rooms and tables bigger to accommodate the size of your stomach after a meal here! The roast beef sandwich served with au jois was simply amazing. The jambalaya my father ordered was spicy but not overly so, and so large he couldn’t finish it. The blackened steak sandwich my mother and I ordered on my way back from California (this place is so good I had to stop at it a second time) was decent but nothing spectacular. However, the Chocolate Stout Cheesecake was. A portion big enough to satisfy at least three sweet tooths, I nonetheless put it down by myself. I just couldn’t help it. It was so rich and deep in taste.
I didn’t remember being very impressed with the beer selection on my first visit. However, on the second I was more impressed. So the beer is better than average, however, several months later, nothing stands out…
I was looking for a beer recommendation on the second visit so I prefaced the request to the rather-cute server by asking, “Do you like beer?” The response was an incredulous, “Of course I like beer!” That’s the best answer I’ve ever heard. And then when she recommended the Black Hawk Stout or the Pointer Brown Ale (both of which turned out excellent), I was in love.