Saturday, August 20, 2022

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Belly Up To...

Regress into a night of play at Brecks


The Beer Ball skee ball game is one of several offered at Brecks that are sure to take you by the hand and guide you back to childhood for the night.

The Beer Ball skee ball game is one of several offered at Brecks that are sure to take you by the hand and guide you back to childhood for the night.

Bar staff and patrons care about their health at Brecks. For example: “We drink so our livers have a job to do — we don’t want the little guy getting lazy,” is one of the bar’s recent Facebook status posts. How thoughtful they are of one of the human body’s most valuable organs. Aside from its clever way of justifying ingesting intoxicating elixirs, Brecks has brought something to downtown Des Moines that it hasn’t seen since All Play closed up shop: a diverse selection of arcade games.

It would be misleading to compare Brecks to All Play, however, because All Play was an arcade with a bar. Contrastingly, Brecks is the inverse. Its primary identity is a bar, and the games are a fun, identifying attribute that sets it apart from its neighbors. Without the games, it would be like any other basement bar that could be found anywhere in Des Moines, in Iowa, in the country or even in a buddy’s house.

It’s like a man cave you’d find in someone’s basement or garage. The all-wood rooms, provides a perfect platform for stomping your boot when you miss a shot on the NBA Jam, for slamming a shot down after a gulp of Wild Turkey and for soaking up the spills as a busy bartender tosses a towel over top to mop up the mess.

Even on a bustling night of gamers howling from below deck (most games are quarantined to a lower level adjacent the bar) surrounding a beer pong table and taking full-bodied jabs at the Ultimate Big Punch Deluxe game, Brecks is a comfortable belly-up spot, well-equipped for quiet drinking, friendly conversation and fierce competitions all in a two-room tavern.

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“Weak Man! Ha ha ha ha! Weak Man!” one guy taunts his friend before slipping another dollar into the machine to prove his alpha status. Actually, the Big Punch doesn’t give pugilist participants enough credit for their power. It takes a lot of strength to summons a 500-some score, earning one the “Weak Man” status. And drop-kicking it Chuck Norris-style isn’t as easy — or as effective — as a pitcher of beer might have you think.

For the mellower gamer, the Beer Ball Classic skee ball game is a better speed, or a round of darts could settle a friendly wager to see who buys the next round. And, when no one’s looking, one might slink up to Ms. Pac Man for a nostalgic maze chase — the eternal search for the vitamins she needs to make it to the next level.

Brecks is the kind of place that’ll make a grown man or woman regress. And that’s part of the fun. Other than to give the liver a job to do, part of why people like to drink is to break the chains of the workday and the stresses and pressures of everyday life and simply not care for a moment or two.

The old Showbiz Pizza once claimed to be a place “where a kid can be a kid.” Well, Brecks is a place where the rest of us can be kids, too. CV

207 Fourth St.
(515) 943-4995

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