Des Moines Beer Week II

Ain’t it funny how time slips away? A month has elapsed since the second Des Moines Beer Week (DSMBW) brought a celebration of the Des Moines beer scene to central Iowans, and with a fair amount of press interest and a lot of fun events, I’d call the effort a success (full disclosure: I’m on the planning committee, which is centered around the ladies of 818: a tiny design empire).

I spent most of the week in town for the festivities, attending the kickoff event at el Bait Shop on Sunday, June 14,, where the DSMBW collaboration beer, All Hands on Deck, debuted. Nine Des Moines breweries (Confluence, New American, Exile, 515, Court Avenue, Firetrucker, Madhouse, Rock Bottom, and Flix) gathered at Confluence Brewing Company in May to brew the English Summer Ale, which was light and sessionable and featured seven hop varieties, most coming from the southern hemisphere and especially New Zealand. The guest speaker and head toaster was Greg Edwards of the Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau.

I wound up at Confluence Brewing Company on Tuesday to try the cask version of All Hands on Deck at their special tapping. While the kickoff attendance was a little restrained (at least initially) Confluence was packed, and the beer was a hit.

On Wednesday, I attended the release of Rock Bottom‘s Barrel-aged Illuminator Doppelbock. This is the fifth year that brewmaster Eric Sorensen and I have collaborated on this Lenten beer, and the third time it’s been aged in a barrel (we took a silver medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers in Chicago back in 2011). The beer was great, but since Eric has moved over to Exile Brewing Company a few weeks ago, you’ll have to stay tuned on the fate of that illuminating elixir.

Yellow shirts: 818ers and me. And then there's Alexis and Chip, who didn't get the yellow shirt memo.

One of my highlights of the entire week was Thursday night at Flix Brewhouse. Reservations were restrained on a beer dinner I was helping with, so I was off the hook and free to attend the screening of Blood, Sweat & Beer. A documentary about two young breweries, the film was solid, and I’d highly recommend you checking it out. Filmmakers Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin were on hand to field questions from the audience before a team consisting of 818ers, Confluencers, and I showed them a loooong Iowa night. Not gonna lie: I slept on a couch…

Friday was the Iowa Craft Brew Festival Warm-up Party, held again at Confluence. For me, it was preceded by a long day’s work preparing for the festival as well as our Iowa Brewers Guild membership meeting. It was nice to relax with a beer and a ton of brewer-friends after a tough day at the office. Thursday night was long, but Friday night was short, as I had to be up and at ’em early for the beer fest the next day.

Though we had a glitch that slowed down entry for the general admission ticket holders, fifth annual ICBF was loads of fun, with buskers and educational seminars added to the mix of excellent food and beer this year.

Peace Tree Brewing Company's Joe Kesteloot talks about why freshness matters during a seminar at the 2015 Iowa Craft Brew Festival.

After a lot of work, DSMBW came to a close, and I, for one, am eagerly awaiting next year, which will be bigger, better, longer, and lovelier than ever. Stay tuned…



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