Photo by Iowa Foodie.
BY SHANNON RABOTSKI
In recent years, craft beer has been gaining popularity throughout the United States.
An American craft brewery is any brewery that is small, independent and traditional, producing fewer than 6 million barrels a year, according to the American Brewers Association.
Despite being behind many other large cities in the brew scene, Des Moines’ brewery count has been growing in the past decade, and today the city is home to over 10 breweries, with six of them nestled downtown.
“We’re a little behind the times in the brewing world,” said Mark David, taproom director at Confluence Brewing Company. “If you look at Denver, there’s probably 100 plus breweries just in Denver alone, so I think there’s a lot of room for new product and breweries in the market.”
The growing youth population of Des Moines is what makes it a good area for breweries to be popping up, David said.
Des Moines’ breweries range from small, locally based breweries to large commercial companies that ship beer all over the state.
Peacetree Brewing Company is one of Des Moines’ smaller breweries. Opened in 2009, Peacetree prides itself on bringing craft beer to Iowa.
Peacetree has grown from a small brewery that hand-delivered their beers to stores around the state to one of Des Moines’ most well-known breweries, with 14 full-time employees and product distribution throughout Iowa and Nebraska.
“When we started, we wanted to make some styles of beer that nobody else in Iowa was brewing at the time, and now we try to stick to that same plan. We try to have something a little bit different that nobody else is doing,” said Joe Kesteloot, Peacetree’s head brewer since its opening in 2009.
Despite its growth and development since opening its doors almost a decade ago, Peacetree plans to remain a small, local brewery.
“Right now, everybody really supports small and local businesses,” Kesteloot said. “I think that for us, our size has really helped us out.”
On the other hand, Confluence Brewing Company opened in 2012 and has since grown from a small brewery to a large commercial brewery that ships beer to over 550 towns in Iowa.
“We’re here to be a production brewery, not just a little small town taproom-only thing,” David said. “We focus on distribution.”
They started in a small section of a large warehouse, but were able to take over more space as they grew and other tenants left, leaving them three times larger today than they were when their doors opened.
“We were very much about slow growth, instrumental growth,” David said. “We didn’t open up as this huge brewery. We set ourselves up for growth, but it took us a few years to get there.”
Confluence Brewery is the third largest brewery in Iowa in terms of production.
They offer a variety of beers, both year-round and seasonal, with their most popular being their Des Moines IPA.
“I think something that people don’t realize is that we’re not just making the same handful of beers year-round,” David said. “We’re constantly making new products, finding new stuff.”
Though Des Moines’ brewery scene can pale (ale) in comparison to that of larger cities, it is up and coming and has been growing every year.