Britney Murray pours a tall glass
of Thunderhead Brewing Company’s finest, the
Golden Frau, a favorite at The Chicken Coop.
By Rebecca Bowen
Thunderhead beer came into this world in very
much the same way as the idea for the establishment
that touts it — from Nebraska.
The Chicken Coop originally hatched out of Kearney,
Neb., and its second location came to West Des
Moines in 2005. The third opened in Urbandale
in April, where “The Coop,” has already cemented
its name as a favorite in the area.
“My wife, Dawn, and I wanted to get out of
a corporate chain in Minneapolis,” said Ken
Beister, co-owner and manager. “It got to a
point where there was no room for advancement.
With Collin (Nabity), my friend from college,
already owning The Chicken Coop in Kearney,
it seemed like a good opportunity to move forward.
“We had to adjust our menu because one thing
we learned working at a chain is that food is
regional — what people like in Kearney doesn’t
necessarily mean people in a health-conscious
city such as Des Moines will,” he added.
So the famous sports bar staple, The Chicken
Coop wings, are flame-broiled rather than deep
fat fried and come with 15 different sauce choices
— a guilty pleasure which is almost sans the
guilt, as they’re just about as body-conscious
as it gets on a menu full of traditional bar
The difference in crowds has brought new favorites
to the top of the menu in Urbandale. One of
the favorites that has popped up at the Urbandale
Coop is the Rotten Apple bomb, a tastier-than-it-sounds
blend of Guinness with Angry Orchard cider beer.
“This new location gets a lot of patronage from
businesses over lunch and more families in the
evening. This isn’t necessarily the same crowd
as West Des Moines,” said Beister.
As a result, the Urbandale Coop closes at midnight
during the week, compared to West Des Moines,
which stays open till 2 a.m. to cater to a more
Both settings are the only two places in the
Des Moines area offering Thunderhead beer, including:
the Honey Wheat Golden Frau, which is in good
company with The Coop’s most unique nectar on
the list, the Peach Wheat; contrasting well
with the dark Corn Stalker; a double IPA coined
the Crop Duster; and Leatherhead Red, which
is good to drink — and eat, as it’s also used
as a fitting ingredient in some of The Coop’s
homemade dishes, such as the favored Drunken
It’s a toss-up to find the best reason to stop
in to The Coop, whether you’re drawn to its
one-of-a-kind beers, the handcrafted menu or
to watch the big game on one of its million
or so flat screen TVs.
“We’re still planning on growing and expanding.
One of our hopes is to add a patio here in Urbandale,”
Beister said. “Our biggest goal is to have two
or three more locations in the metro over time.”