When Bear’s Restaurant and Lounge in Ankeny closed its doors nearly two years ago, the community not only lost a longtime fixture but also one of the few local eateries in a sea of chains.
So it’s to Ankeny’s benefit that Number 7 Brewing Company is providing a local option in Bear’s place. In addition, it’s expanding the growing microbrewery scene to the northern suburb.
We visited Number 7 Brewing Company during a Tuesday evening dinner service and the 135-person capacity space was already two-thirds full. We were seated near the back of the dining room facing a window that peeks into an adjacent room housing the brewing tanks.
Number 7 does not fit the cliched description of a Des Moines area brewery: Its ceilings are high and ductwork exposed, but it’s painted a classy black; the floor is carpeted in lieu of cement; and its space is petite compared to some of the more cavernous options.
Along the south wall of the long, narrow restaurant is a stretched bar, behind which is a cooler housing what may be Ankeny’s largest selection of bottled brews. To help with selections, the two-page beer menu is sorted by type to help patrons branch out beyond the obvious. But we decided that while in a brewery, we should try the microbrew. Two are currently on tap: the KB Kolsch, a pilsner-style German beer; and the Number 7 American Amber, a darker, maltier option. Eventually an IPA and a milk stout will round out the regular options, which will be joined by seasonal and reserve ales.
We tried the Kolsch, which could easily act as a gateway brew for anyone who would normally opt for mass-produced light beers. It’s extremely smooth, crisp and void of aftertaste, making it equally sippable and chuggable. A 12-ounce frosty mug was $3.75; a 16-ounce pint goes for $4.50.
The majority of the microbrews in Des Moines serve menus of American fare or elevated American fare, but Number 7 sets itself apart by combining microbrews with barbecue. The concise menu features smoked chicken, pork, brisket and meatloaf (yes, you read that right: smoked meatloaf).
I decided to skip the sides and instead try three meats by ordering a trio of sliders. The pork, meatloaf and brisket arrived hot on roll-style buns. The pork slider was juicy and overflowing, making it best tackled with a fork and knife. The brisket had a beautiful pink smoke ring, but was not as tender as we’ve experienced at other Des Moines barbecue joints. The real treat on the plate was the moist, strange and delicious meatloaf slider; my dining partner likened it to an upscale version of a McRib sandwich, and I was happy to have had the opportunity to sample it.
Though the service was a bit sluggish (it took about five minutes to get the waters we ordered and another five to get our orders placed), the food arrived speedily, which balanced out the time we spent at Number 7.
Given its newness, it’s easy to forgive this offense, especially if it provides more time to enjoy the Kolsch.
Number 7 Brewing Company
Find it: 302 S.W. Maple St., Ankeny
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
Info: 964-5240; number7brewing.com