Located in downtown Des Moines within crawling distance to several good beer locations, El Bait Shop gets style points for being unique. Kitschy-cool, this place is smeared with mounted fish, beer signage, a working shower, a barber’s chair, bright colors, a “Where the Wild Things Are” mural and a pro-wrestling wall of fame.
If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, then I should mention that they boast over a hundred taps on the wall–all American micros, and local where possible. I sure hope Rogue is paying attention to their distributor’s reports, because El Bait Shop maintains a ridiculous 20 Rogue tap handles, everything from the Dead Guy to their chipotle to big guns like the Imperial Pils and RIS. To be honest, I think they ought to knock about 15 of those suckers off the wall and round out with a few across-the-pond offerings, but hey, it is beautiful to see such a commitment to the local color.
And I do mean color. Did I mention the decor? I suppose some folks would call this place goofy-looking, but if one walks in with a sense of humor and a sense of adventure, there’s no bloody reason a person can’t have a spanking good time.
It was quiet on our Sunday afternoon before a concert outing, so we bellied up to the bar and covered some ground. The bar. One of my favorites. There’s something to be said for a grand, old, dark wood bar. And I like the slick commercial look of stainless now and again. But this bait shop looking beauty was styling–fishing lures and bottle caps in the perfect proportions.
Our bartender was friendly and informative about a few of the local beers and breweries that we have yet to encounter. He set us up with nachos, even though the kitchen was closed, and navigated my questions and his regular bar flies with grace. With a ton of beers in a fun environment, I look forward to my chance to hit this little gem.
As we weren’t headed out fishing afterwards, I didn’t think to ask if they actually sold bait. Probably.