Good things come together at Confluence Brewing Co.11/14/2012
John Martin gets asked a lot of questions when customers belly up to the sleek, blue concrete bar at Confluence Brewing Company — questions about how he came up with the vast range of craft beer flavors, where the names came from, how long he’s been brewing his own beer and how in the hell can he afford to feed a family of nine?
He’s patient and friendly as he explains his answers — often repeatedly — to newcomers who are there to check out the new brewery on Des Moines’ south side.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Where’s the TV?’ ” he laughed.
Aside from hanging decor created by local artists on the walls, the new building is bare compared to well-established taverns in the area. There are no TVs yet, but after a few tastes of the beer brewed in-house, it’s easy to see why they’re not missed.
“We’re all set up for TV, and we’ll get one in here soon, but it’s kind of nice not having one,” Martin said. “It leaves more room for conversation. I like to get feedback from customers. That’s very important to me.”
Conversation flows as easily as the flavors Confluence currently offers on tap, including Capital Gold lager, Farmer John’s multi-grain ale (named after Martin’s father and grandfather with an appreciative nod to his agricultural roots in southern Iowa) and the powerfully-potent Des Moines IPA, at 7.1 percent alcohol by volume. Also offered for a limited time are the seasonal Gray’s Lake Nessie Scottish ale and High Water oatmeal stout. The flavors are named with an affection for Des Moines, including the name of the brewery itself.
Confluence literally means “the place where two streams meet,” such as the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. It also means “a flocking together.” Both are fitting descriptions for the taproom that connects to an outdoor deck overlooking the southeastern edge of Gray’s Lake with the downtown skyline in the background.
“That’s why our motto is ‘Where good things come together,’ ” Martin said.
People and beer — two good things that come together in the Confluence taproom. But upon first entering what was once a mail sorting building for the U.S. Postal Service, guests are met by tall, silver towers full of fermenting beer. It’s almost as if you accidently came in the back door. But Martin said he and co-founder Ken Broadhead like it that way.
“We have nothing to hide,” Martin said. “So many places hide the brewery, but we have it right in front so people automatically get a tour of it when they walk in.”
Much like watching a chef cook your food while you wait, taproom guests can watch Martin work like a scientist in his lab, checking samples, measuring temperatures, mixing ingredients and whipping up an elixir that is sure to remedy whatever ails you after a hard day’s work. CV
Confluence Brewing Company 1235 Thomas Beck Road, Suite A (515) 285-9005 www.confluencebrewing.com Hours: Wed., Thurs., 4 – 10 p.m.; Fri., Sat., 12 – 10 p.m. Capacity: 155, plus 40 on patio Other amenities: DJs and live music