The scene: It’s almost as if Rock Bottom were created from a brewpub playbook — it’s housed in a large brick building with a cavernous ceiling, copious dark wood, views of the enormous brewing tanks and an abundance of flat-screen TVs tuned to sports. Rock Bottom is a chain with locations from Boston, Mass., to Long Beach, Calif. Its menu offers American brewpub standards, including salads, pizza, burgers and entrees.
What we ordered: I ordered a mug of the red ale, a copper-colored, medium-bodied brew with a distinct malty aftertaste, which is only $3 during happy hour. My drinking partner had a honey ale, a light brew featuring subtle undertones of clover honey, sourced locally from Spring Valley Honey Farm in Perry. We also tried the jalapeno spinach dip appetizer, a steal at its happy hour price of $5. The dip itself, which we’ve enjoyed previously, was a bit loose, a disappointment in its inconsistency from previous visits. It wasn’t enough to quell our hunger, so we opted for the nachos, a mammoth board covered with tortilla chips and smothered in meat, melted cheese, black beans, jalapenos, tomatoes and red onions, with salsa on the side. It’s impressive in size and flavor, well worth its full price at $11.25.
What we saw: We visited during Friday happy hour; the inside bar was buzzing with groups who appeared to be nearby white collar types looking to loosen their neckties and drink to the end of the work week. The restaurant section filled with families piling in for dinner. The covered patio was less popular, with only a couple of tables occupied. The L-shaped patio curves around the front and side of the building, offering views of a small pond, a parking lot and the Macaroni Grill. Mediocre views aside, the patio would’ve been packed had it been about 5 degrees cooler, as options are few in this area of West Des Moines.
Why you should go: The beer is handcrafted and brewed o
n site, and the ample, covered patio allows patrons to enjoy the outdoors while protected from the elements.
Rock Bottom Brewery
Find it: 4508 University Ave., West Des Moines
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday
Info: 267-8900; rockbottom.com/des-moines
Patio highlights: It’s covered, protecting patrons from sun or rain.
Best for: A handcrafted beer that’s been brewed on site and a mug club that will save you some dough.