A little trip out to West Des Moines and one might stumble across Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, tucked amongst the stores and concrete. This being a chain of brewpubs found sprinkled throughout the country, I either knew exactly what to expect, or not. In any case, I donned my open mind and had a pleasant dining experience with my family.
I ordered the sampler, and found seven palatable offerings, with a touch of creativity by the brewer. At this RB location, I found Heartland Light, White Tail Pale Ale, Mud in Your Eye Red, Lumpy Dog Brown to be the standard offerings. In addition, RB offers a rotating wheat beer and stout. The wheat can range from hefe- to wit to dunkel, I expect, while the stout can be dry, sweet, oatmeal, etc. Today, they poured a “blanche” and a “black Belgian.” Of the two rotating taps, I preferred the wheat. This is largely because I am not a fan of licorice, and the black Belgian carried a solid anise/licorice character, both in the flavor and aroma. It gave way to black malt roastiness which I enjoyed.
My favorites among the others in the lineup were the English pale and brown, both nice session brews as far as I’m concerned, excellent go-to beers for the fridge, if only these guys bottled. But a growler works well, too. The Brewmaster’s Choice was an Evergreen Ale, packed with a minerally, dried-sweat (I mean that in a good way) pine aroma. The evergreen flavor was well-done (meaning not over-done) and it made for a nice drinker. According to our waitress, juniper berries and pine clippings came from the assistant brewer’s yard.
Our food was quite nice, and proved kid-friendly as well. My boys both ordered Make-Your-Own-Pizzas, while I tore into the smoked salmon fish and chips and my wife ordered the smoked salmon enchiladas. The boys built their pizzas while we sipped our brews, and everyone was happy.
The brewhouse looked great upstairs through the glass, and it’s always nice to see a Great American Beer Festival medal hanging on the wall (2004 Roggenbier Silver). Further, they maintain a lengthy calendar of special releases and events for the beer drinker keeping track of the latest offering and something a little more exciting than a quiet lunch with the family. Brewmaster Eric Sorensen is putting out a number of excellent beers, and I look forward to my next trip to Lowes (meaning my next lunch at Rock Bottom).