Scott Amdahl is one of about 100 members of
the Iowa Brewers Union, many of which give tastings
of their latest crafts at the Jimmy Carter Happy
Hour on Thursdays at el Bait Shop from 6 – 8:30
By Amber Williams
Long before many Cityview readers can remember
— or perhaps were born — the United States federal
government decided for us that beer was bad.
Bad, bad, bad. And they outlawed it. It was
a dark time, people — a dark time. But from
that a bootlegger culture was born in the American
“black market.” The crime proved to be lucrative
enough to justify the risk for many, including
my great-grandpa, so I’ve heard.
As we all know, eventually (in 1933) the 21st
Amendment declared alcohol legal once again.
But it wasn’t complete until one famous beer-drinking
politician, the president at the time, Jimmy
Carter, added to that law an important component
that had been missing for 40 years — the home
craft brewer. Thank-you, Jimmy.
Take that tid-bit of American history and impress
your friends while tasting locally-brewed craft
beers at the “Jimmy Carter Happy Hour” every
Thursday at El Bait Shop.
“I want to have everything to do with beer in
this town,” said Full Court Press (a group of
restaurateurs throughout Des Moines) partner
at el Bait Shop, Jeff Bruning. “I want el Bait
Shop to be one of the mentioned beer places
in America and put us on the map.”
With more than 100 beer flavors on tap, el Bait
Shop is definitely on the local map, and Bruning
said his goal to reach 130 is growing nearer.
They’ve added 16 new draft handles to the colorful
wall behind the bar — spots which are “always
moving,” he said.
“It’s a static area for our seasonals,” Bruning
said. “Now we can have beer invasions where
we add new flavors without taking any down.
It gives us room to expand and retract.”
The next “beer invasion” will feature Peace
Tree Brewing on Sept. 13, a Knoxville brewery
with flavors popping up all over Iowa (Blonde
Fatale and Red Rambler being two of its most
“We just found out Stone Brewing (out of Escondido,
Calif.) is coming to town on Oct. 1, so we’ll
have a ‘take over’ of their beers on Oct. 4
with nine flavors on tap. It’s one of a dozen
breweries that beer drinkers would like to see
come to Iowa.
“I’m hoping to have Greg Cooch here that day,
who’s one of the founders. If he was in acting,
he’d be Oscar-winning — he’d be Brad Pitt,”
And it’s not far-fetched for a home brewer offering
tastes of his craft at Jimmy Carter Happy Hour
to someday become the “Brad Pitt” of beer brewing,
which is why Bruning said he supports beer,
beer-makers and beer-drinkers at all levels,
from the bathtub to the barrel to the belly.
“About half, or more, home brewers have gone
on to work at breweries or started their own,”
So the Jimmy Carter Happy Hour gives the home
brewers a podium from which to tout their flavors
in one-ounce glasses, get feedback from el Bait
Shop patrons and hone their crafts accordingly.
“The whole night (Thursdays) is just a night
for beer,” Bruning said. CV
el Bait Shop
200 S.W. Second St., (515) 284-1970
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. every day; Kitchen: 11
a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.
Margarita Specials: 3-7 p.m., Mon.-Fri.
Entertainment: Live music Wednesdays and Sundays,
Capacity: 100-plus inside; 100 outside
Interesting fact: Jimmy Carter and his wife,
Rosalynn, will be at Drake University on Thursday,
Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Drake University Knapp
Center as part of the Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished
Lecture Series and the Slay Fund for Social
Justice… Maybe he’ll drop by for a beer.